According to Hubspot, roughly 50% of local SEO-centric small businesses list Google+ as an essential part of their digital marketing strategy. The same Hubspot study indicates that 15% gained at least one new customer from Google+ in 2012. Beyond that, Google has developed its local search components in a way that makes Google+ and Google Local work magically together. In other words, today’s small businesses need to latch onto these two mediums and make them work together in a way that improves their local search engine rankings.
Sure this all sounds nice, but how do you go about that? We’ll attempt to answer that question in this post.
How to Use Google+ to Improve Local Search Rankings
Registering for a Google+ local page
Up until very recently, you pretty much had two choices for Google-based local SEO: you could either set up a Google Local page or a regular Google+ page, but there was really no real way to differentiate a business page from a personal page. Now you can register for a local page that can help you rank higher on local search.
With the recent unveiling of Google+ Local, it was revealed that these new local pages would be indexed on the Google search engine. It’s important to remember that Google+ Local doesn’t directly affect organic search rankings, but it does display a bit more information about your company to Google users.
Leveraging the power of Google Plus
First of all, Google+ is incredibly powerful because it’s free and it gives you access to a lot of incredible resources to help boost your local search marketing campaign. Secondly, the Google+ Local platform gives you a boost in rankings because it increases your capability for positive brand awareness. This is largely because you can intensively customize your marketing messages through the Google Plus segmentation tool. This allows you to create marketing messages for specific groups of people, which is an element of social media engagement that Google Plus has pioneered.
Optimizing your site for local SEO
As with any marketing plan, the very first step is research and development. This means you need to have a solid grasp on how people might search for your product or business online. Do some test search queries. Find out how competitive they are, and if people are actually searching for these terms in your local geographic area. All of this can be tested and researched in Google’s AdWords keyword research tool.
Optimizing your site for local search
Set up your site with Google Analytics so you can monitor search activity related to your business. SEOmoz recommends letting Google Analytics run for two weeks or more before even attempting any local SEO. From there you’ll need to ensure your site is flexible (compatible with all the major browsers – Firefox, Safari, Chrome, Internet Explorer, etc) and SEO-friendly. This means optimizing meta descriptions for local SEOs and adding any local information to every page of the site.
Always Be Monitoring
As has always been the case with SEO, the landscape is constantly shifting. The rules that are “hard and fast” right now will not be so hard and fast in six months. Google is always moving to improve their product by engineering innovative ways for users to engage with their search and social products. This means you’ll need to constant track not just your own site and digital branding, but how the world of local search is expanding.