Of course you’ve heard of Google-but, have you heard about Google Local? Google Local is the small business owner’s new best friend when it comes to marketing to the neighboring community.
Google Local can help you expand your customer base, create social interaction with existing customers in real time, and attract prospective customers. Google Local is free to use, and easy to set up. The goal of Google Local is to assist businesses with increasing their online presence while helping customers find, review, and engage with businesses in their local area.
Let’s get you started on setting up your own Google Local page and maximizing your search engine optimization (SEO) so you can level the playing field to play ball with the big businesses.
Creating Your Google Local Page
The good news is that setting up your Google Local business page is fairly simple.
1. Start here to create a Google+ page for your business: http://www.google.com/+/brands/thebasics.html
2. Select “Create A Google+ Page.”
3. Select either “Storefront,” “Service Area,” or “Brand.” A Storefront page is for a business with a physical location, whereas a service area covers a certain geographical location, such as for an insurance agent. Whether you create a Storefront or a Service Area page, you can also create a Brand page where you can post social updates about your business, which will link bank to your Storefront or Service Area page.
4. Type your business name and address into the search box. Note that consistency is key for this step! Take the time to ensure that your business name and address in Google Local appear exactly as they do in other marketing materials (for example, “Blvd.” versus “Boulevard” as your physical address), including your business website or any directories which contain your business information. If your business has recently moved or has a new name, now is the time to update this information across the board.
5. You will be prompted to enter specific details about your business. Click through these prompts until completion.
6. You’re almost there. The final hurdle is to verify your new page with Google. A verification code will be necessary for this step. Once you have your verification code, enter this code into your page to confirm all information and verify your new Google Local status.
You’ve done it! Welcome to Google Local!
How to Make Google Local Work for Your Business
Now that you’ve established your online presence with Google Local, what steps can you take to leverage that online presence?
2. Social media presence is key. With so many options, how do you best tailor your social media accounts to fit your target business audience? Accion has helpful tips on how to choose the right social media platforms for your small business and how to keep them active. If appropriate, establish a YouTube account for your business. Google Local can link to your business’s YouTube account. Once you’ve determined the best social media fit for your business, how can you best use these resources to reach your customers? Here’s how to focus your social media efforts and measure your results.
3. Google Local has comprehensive tips for how to maximize your brand presence across social media. Learning to speak the language of Hashtags can help drive customer searches toward your Google Local page.
4. According to Mary Bowling of Ignitor Digital at MozCon 2015, the four pillars on the “map to local search success” are “trusted location info, a good link profile, a locally focused website, and a good review profile.” Maintain a professional business website and ensure that all relevant information on your website matches your Google Local profile.
5. Professional service businesses, such as attorneys or accountants, can benefit from starting a blog. Sharing your expertise on your blog can keep your business in the forefront of social media. Learn how to associate your blog with your Google Local page.
6. Encourage satisfied customers to submit positive reviews about your business on Google Local. Organic reviews from your repeat, satisfied customers can drive more local business to your door.
7. How can your local business improve search engine optimization (SEO)? Study up on concrete guidelines on how to build a smart local SEO strategy. Keeping tabs on how Google Local is helping your analytics gives you a goal-oriented sense of what your customers are searching for so you can target your keywords appropriately.
Google Local can be a dynamic, cost-efficient strategy to enable your local business to maintain a strong online marketing plan. Knowing how to maximize the potential of Google Local can drive your business toward a successful future.