There is a sea of social media for local businesses to navigate these days, and while Google joined the choppy waters some time ago, only recently did it become a force to be reckoned with in the social media world. Though it may be tempting to brush off Google's foray into social media as just another outlet, don't; the impact of Google Plus on local businesses can be huge.
Google Plus Gets Your Business on the Map
If you want your business to show up in the map results on Google, then Google Plus is a must. Because such a high percentage of local business (more than 85%) comes from online search, this map ranking is a huge benefit. (If you already have a Google Places page, great. Go ahead and setup a Google Plus page also. At some point in the near future they will be merged, and you'll be prepared for that to happen.)
Hint: If your business or franchise has multiple locations, setup a Google Plus page for each location.
When you setup your Google Plus page, it's crucial to select "Local Business" as your type of page. Complete all the necessary information, including location, website and contact information. Then, make sure you verify your page. This must be happened in order for your page to rank in Google listings.
Another important strategy you can use to boost your page rankings is to use keywords that your audience will be searching.
For example, if you are a real estate agency, do not simply put your agency name (ex: Coldwell Banker). Instead use also a keyword phrase such as Real Estate in your name. It is also important to use these keywords in your categories, if possible, as well as in your page description. All of these things will help Google identify your business and rank it for the proper keywords.
Google Plus Helps You Show Up on Local Searches
In addition to showing up in map listings, active Google Plus activity can help increase your general website's ranking for keyword searches on Google. In order to help expedite this process, in addition to using keywords as specified above, it is important to post consistently on Google Plus. What does that consist of? Largely, it means posting content to your Google Plus page that links back to your site and making posts that use keywords.
Receiving reviews from Google users can also help increase your rankings because it increases your credibility as a respected resource. Consider asking your clients or customers to leave a review on your page. You may be surprised how happy they are to do just that.
Engaging with other users on Google Plus is also beneficial. However, most audiences aren't active on Google Plus, so this will not really increase your interaction with your potential clients and customers (as it would potentially on other platforms like Facebook or Twitter). This engagement will, however, help increase your Google rankings over time.
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