Google has changed quite a bit for local businesses over the past couple years. Whether your Google business listing is still on the old Google Places page or has been updated to the new Google+ Business page, these Google+ Local tips can help you optimize your listing and boost your local rankings.
Be Personal and Social on Google Plus
The social part of Google+ can be a powerful way to increase local rankings. Comments from fans, +1’s, and other interactions are indicators of relevance to Google, and they overpower the normal search relevance indicators. If someone has a particular business in a Google+ circle and has recently been engaged in a post, the next time that person searches for businesses in that niche, that particular business will rank higher in the SERP.
If a business does not have a customer base active on Google+ and other social networks like it, then it would be wise not to spend too much time building expansive social profiles. In this case, having your business name, address, and phone number, website, and other basic business information will be enough.
However, if your business does have an active social audience on social networks like Google+, then being personal and customizing your Google+ Local page is critical because your business will more than likely have competitors in the social network realm as well. In order to set your business apart from these competitors, you should customize the page with a banner, videos, and photos to improve click-through rates. Also, if your business is involved in the community, make some of your content more geared to the community.
Specific Categories and Custom Business Descriptions
The #1 local search ranking factor is proper category associations. This is very important to do in order to rank for the right keywords that reflect your business. Although categories is #1 for ranking factors, don’t underestimate the importance of writing a custom business description. This is set your business apart from the competition.
But as a voice of caution, don’t permeate this custom business description with keywords.
People look at reviews. And guess what? Google looks at them, too. In fact, Google uses reviews as a ranking factor in the local search results. The more recent and frequent your reviews are, the higher your business will rank in the SERP.
Make sure to ask your customers for reviews. It’s okay to end up with a few bad reviews; this will lower your rankings. However, all bad reviews will obviously not be good for business. Also, be careful with giving your customers incentives to post positive reviews. You can do this, but if you have 50 excellent reviews in the past month, Google will no doubt mark this as spammy.
Be Accurate and Remove Any Duplicate Listings
Ever since Google has started its process of switching local businesses over to the new Google Places for Business Dashboard, I have undertaken the responsibility to optimize my local SEO clients’ listings on Google Places for Business. Many of them have duplicate Places listings, and a few have inaccurate data or incomplete business information. Make sure you delete you duplicate listings and be accurate on your business’s basic information.