Where is the nearest Starbucks? What time does the office-supply store close? Where can I buy a handle for Moen faucet? These are all questions being commonly answered by Google Local, which combines the power of Google Map technology with up-to-date profiles of local businesses. Every business that sells products or services needs to have an updated profile on Google+ Local. As a business owner or manager, you’re responsible for updating the information. There’s no cost to update and enhance your profile.
Why is this important? You may have noticed that Google has begun to favor local results more often for many Web searches. About a year ago, Google moved up the relevancy of local results, above traditional organic search results. Search for “irrigation contractors Sayville,” and you get a map with pinpoint locations of nearby firms. Want to show up or be ranked higher in your area? Do this:
Claim your listing. If you have not updated your company’s Google+ profile before, you’ll need to go through a process to make it an owner-verified listing. Find your profile and click the business-owner link. Once you update the profile, you’ll be required to enter a PIN supplied by Google to verify that you’re the best person to provide the information about your business. Google will either call you with the PIN, or you can have it mailed to the location.
Write a keyword-rich description. Often your company name doesn’t carry the message. What services or products do you sell? What areas do you serve? What brands do you carry? Google gives you 200 words to tell your story.
Choose the correct categories. Help Google classify you. Are you a supplier or installer? What types of customers do you sell to? You’re required to pick one category from Google’s list. Then you can also write up to four categories of your own. Remember to use terms that searchers would use, not industry jargon.
Set your service area. If you travel to meet customers, tell Google what areas you visit regularly. For businesses without an office or storefront, you can suppress display of your street address.
Add photos and video. Load up to 10 images and link up to five videos to your profile. Showcase your work.
Details. List your hours of operation, forms of payment accepted, specialties and certifications.
How do you increase your ranking in local search results? First, geography has a strong impact. It’s hard to show up in a metro area’s search results if you’re in a far-flung suburb. Second, Google favors the profiles that are owner-verified and complete. They have the best information for searchers. So update! Third, profiles that have Google+ reviews tied to them also receive a better ranking. Get reviewed by your happy customers. Fourth, explore Google Boost, which associates Google advertising and a prominent blue pin with your map location.
I have a brief how-to guide that covers the steps to update the Google+ local profiles for all of your company’s locations. Send me an email mentioning this article for a free copy.
Jeff Carowitz leads a landscape industry marketing agency. Find him on LinkedIn or at Jeff@StrategicForceMarketing.com.