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Why you should use Google+ Local

Boost your SEO and drive offline business

A decade or more ago Google was all about online search and providing relevant results for users via their search engine. Since then, perhaps prompted in part by the success of social networking services such as Facebook, Google has diversified its offering, providing more ways for customers to find relevant information - including local business details.

With names like Google Search, Google Maps and Google+ flying around, the lines may seem more blurred these days; but it's not as complicated as it might seem at first:

Google Search

This is Google's original, core offering: an intelligent search engine providing relevant results for text-based searches. Like it or not, it is the most-used search engine on the Web.

Google Maps

Formerly known as Google Local, Google Maps is an online service that provides detailed information about geographical regions and sites around the world. It offers street maps, route planners and a locator for urban businesses.

Google+

On the surface this is Google's social networking service, second only to Facebook in terms of global usage. Dig a little deeper and Google+ ultimately aims to learn more about people's interests and the connections between people so as to provide a more personalised web experience.

So where does Google+ Local fit in?

This is Google's "upgrade" to what was Google Places, allowing you to create a free online listing (via a Google+ page) which will appear next to relevant - especially local - search results.

By creating a Google+ page and optimising Local listings, you will have greater control over how your business details appear in local search results - whether on Google Search, Google Maps or Google+.

For example, a search for 'vets in Cambridge' presents the following results:

Informative image: Google results for 'vets in cambridge' search

  • Results are plotted on a map and listed with their address and phone number.
  • Each result also includes a link to the Google+ page.

More details are shown when you hover over a result:

Informative image: Additional detail displayed for a search result

  • A more detailed map is shown, plus today's opening hours.
  • Reviews via Google are indicated.
  • Additional photos have been provided to enhance the listing.

Here is the Google+ Local page for this particular example:

Informative image: An example Google+ Local page

  • Notice the link back to the practice's website, providing a useful backlink to help with website SEO.

The benefits of Google+ Local

Boost your SEO

These listings are displayed towards the top of Google's search results. Since new clients will most likely perform a local search along the lines of "vets in Mytown" we can reasonably assume a real intent to visit behind these sorts of queries. Having a Google+ Local will help you to rank for targeted local keywords.

Gain a competitive advantage

Taking a look at the first screengrab above, seven veterinary practices are shown... it's likely that there are more than this in the local area, but they aren't shown here because they don't have a Google+ Local listing.

Use client reviews to your advantage

Reviews can help eliminate any doubts potential clients may have, and thereby increase conversions.

Get started with Google+ Local

  • Visit Google+ Business to create your free Google+ page. If you don't already have a Google account for logging in you will be able to sign up for one.
  • A helpful YouTube video is also available.