Congratulations! You have claimed your local listing on Google+ Local (formerly Google Places). You’ve gone through the challenging owner verification process. You’ve updated your hours of operation and added photos, categories, and keywords to represent the products and services you offer and the types of customers you serve.
Your Google+ Local page is showing up in Google’s organic results for local searches, maybe even in the new Google Carousel, with photos, targeted content, and reviews. That’s great! But, how do you continue to optimize your business’s presence in Google’s local and organic results and further engage potential customers?
Why You Also Need a Google Plus Page
You may know Google Plus as Google’s social media offering, to compete with the huge popularity of Facebook. What you may not know is that Google Plus also offers huge benefits to small and medium businesses. Having a Google Plus page, in addition to your Google+ Local listing, provides additional opportunities for your business to appear in not just local search results, but also in organic and personal search results.
Without Google Plus, your Google+ Local page is a robust online business listing, which is the very minimal requirement for appearing in Google local results. When you add a Google Plus page for your business, you increase your opportunity to socially engage with other Google Plus users by sharing posts, photos, and videos. Directly engaging other Google Plus users with interesting content results in +1s for your content and Google Plus page, increasing the relevancy of your Google Plus presence.
Google Plus vs. Google+ Local for Business
If you already have a Google+ Local page, you need to create a Google Plus page for your business. When you set up Google Plus, be sure to include information about your business and relevant content links for all of your web sites, your YouTube channel, and social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc.).
In order to combine the social functionality of Google Plus with your Local listing, you will have to verify your Google Plus page, just like you did your Google+ Local page. Verification of the Google Plus page is only available by the post card method when you’re merging the two. You will receive a post card within 7-10 days with a PIN to enter online. This will merge your new Google Plus account with your existing Google+ Local page.
After you’ve created, verified, and merged your Google Plus page with your Google+ Local listing, you can begin to share content with other Google Plus users, your current and future customers. Be sure to use the Google Plus dashboard to manage content, not your Google+ Local page. You can use this dashboard to:
- Gain an audience: Add other Google Plus users to your Circles so you can share content as well as engage others’ content.
- Share information about your product: With Google Plus, you can share posts regarding promotions or specials, share your customers’ reviews about your business, and even videos showcasing your products and services.