Google Places is now replaced by Google+ Local pages and is one of the most powerful free online marketing tools available for local business. Google+ is Google`s social network which allows businesses to create their own Google+ Local page somewhat similar to a fanpage on Facebook.
While the importance of online marketing on Facebook depends partly on the success of their Graph search, Google`s dominance in search makes it absolutely essential to be a part of their social network.
In my opinion, every local business should sign up for a Google + Local page if they want more customers or to interact better with current customers . The following example should be enough to convince you to get a Google+ Local page.
Let’s assume I need a lawyer quickly because I am in trouble. After doing a quick search in Google for “Lawyer Solihull” (Solihull is my local town), this is the result page I see:
First of all, a number of local lawyers are listed in the search result. Secondly, the location of these are highlighted on a map. It almost seems like this is a definite list over all lawyers in Solihull, and that if you are a lawyer, you need to be present here. However, the reason why these lawyers are present is that they have done their homework and registered with Google + Local pages (or former Google places) Moreover, the level of information you have filled into your Google+ Local pages determines the ranking in the result pages. In this example can we see that the first result is a lawyer called “Fentimans” that have filled in significant information and even obtained 4 reviews from his customers. Google reward his eagerness to use Google + Local pages with a good spot when customers are looking for him. Sounds like a pretty good trade-off does it not?
Also, signing up for Google+ Local pages allows you to appear on the search results in Google local search:
If you are a business owner, do a search for your type of business and see whether you appear on the first page!
If you are not convinced, here are a few more reasons to join the world of local businesses at Google+.
- It`s Free and Easy
Google+ Local pages is free and easy to set up so there are no reasons to stay away! Also, it requires no more technological knowledge than needed to navigate in a social network.
- SEO Made Easy
Signing up for a Google+ Local page can be considered as local SEO and is one of the easiest and most effective steps you can take to improve your presence in local search results.
- Google will Reward you
It is well-known that Google rewards the businesses that use their services with better ranking in search engines. For example will videos fromYoutube (owned by Google) appear more often than videos from other sources in a Google search. The same is true for Google +, use it, and be present in local search results.
- Local Search is Important
Local search queries are considered to make up about 25% of all queries in search engines and over 85% of online users use search engines to find products or services. With this is mind is search engines possible the most important online marketing channel for local businesses.
- Optimised for Mobile Experience
Google+ is adapted to mobile phones and allow customers to see your company information while browsing with their smartphones.
- Get Customer Reviews
Customer reviews can build trust and bring credibility to your name. I would recommend to encourage happy customers to review your service on your Google+ Local page when they visit your physical location.
- Be Visible in Google Maps
Google+ Local pages allows you to be visible when users use Google maps which is one of the worlds most used map services both on desktop and mobile phones.
- You Do Not Need a Website
If you for some reason do not have a website, having a Google+ local page is still worth your time. It might even be more important for businesses without websites as they have little chance of appearing in search engines. You can list all your business information on your Google+ Local page and encourage visitors to stop by or call you instead of visiting your website.