Earlier this year, Google decided to merge its Google Places for Businesses program in with Google+. This was done to encourage additional sign-ups for Google+ and increase participation on its social network.
What does this mean for businesses?
When it comes to other social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, businesses can decide whether or not they want to participate. With Google+, every business with a physical address now has a Google+ business page, whether they wanted one or not.
Since this listing will be visible anytime someone does a Google search for a company and other related terms, companies must make sure that they make a good first impression and populate their pages with pictures, videos, and other relevant content.
And because Google continues to emphasize local businesses in organic search results, businesses have an opportunity to generate additional traffic to their websites by optimizing their listings to include important keywords.
How can I take ownership of my Google+ business page?
The verification process does take some time, but here are the steps to follow:
- If you don’t already have a personal Google+ account, you’ll need to create one.
- Once you’re logged in to Google+, click the “Local” button in the left-hand navigation. From there, you can do a search for your business.
- Once you locate your business page, click on the link to “Manage This Page.”
- Choose to “Edit This Listing” and fill in as much content as possible.
- Edit contact information (address, phone number, website, etc.) if anything is missing or inaccurate.
- Write an SEO-friendly description of your business.
- Select at least three categories that describe your business or services.
- Enter your hours of operation. Voice-activated mobile search features, such as Siri, will not list your business as a result if these are not included. Siri will basically think that your business is always closed.
- The final step is to validate your listing by phone or email. If you choose phone, you will immediately receive an automated call to the number in your listing. Since Google will be calling the main number for your business, make sure that whoever answers your phone is aware of what you’re doing and ready to copy down the validation code. If this fails, your other option is to request that a postcard be mailed to your business, which generally takes 2-3 weeks.
- Once your listing is verified, you can begin using your Google+ business page. Since the goal is to make a good first impression on anyone who finds this page, be sure to upload a custom profile picture (dimensions: 260×260) and cover photo (940×180).
I have control of my Google+ business page, but what about Bing, Yahoo, and other directories?
Since Google is used more than any other search engine and directory, this is the one to focus on. However, there is an easy way to make sure that your business information is accurate elsewhere as well. InfoGroup works as an aggregator for many of the top search engines, local online directories, and navigation systems. By claiming and updating your free business listing with InfoGroup, you can ensure that the correct information is distributed throughout the Web.
Does your business need help with your local optimization strategy? Contact Martino Flynn today.