For businesses with physical locations or localised services who rely on attracting and retaining new local customers, it’s vital to utilise the power of a strong online presence. It may seem like the most important aspects of an online strategy is the setting up of the website, social media profiles and possibly an Adwords campaign, however, for a local business one of the most influential factors that lead to generating new custom is having a well set up Google Business profile.
Why is it so important?
Google+ has been a slightly confusing journey for many users over the last few years with the service originally pitched as the Facebook killer. Whilst this didn’t happen, Google+ Local profiles have remained important to businesses. A simple Google search for any local service will bring up a map with a list of options which offer location, contact, company and customer feedback information. As a local business if you haven’t made every effort to ensure your company features here, you might be losing out to your competition, especially if your business has a physical location. Studies have shown that ‘50% of consumers who conducted a local search on their smartphone visited a store within a day’.
How do I make a good profile?
With the importance of a strong Google+ business profile undeniable, the question is: How do I make sure my Google+ business profile is set up correctly? There are several key areas to focus on:
- N.A.P – Getting the name of the business, address and phone number of your company exactly right and exactly the same as it listed on your website and other social media is the most important part of the profile. This may seem simple, but it is surprisingly easy for a comma or capital letter to be different somewhere across your online presence. Google will match up the information on your profile to any other information it can find about your business. Ensuring your information is consistent provides a better user experience and results in better rankings.
- Reviews – There is no better way of judging a service or product than a genuine customer review. If your profile has strong reviews and most importantly, a star rating, users are more likely to choose you over un-reviewed competitor. Google acts much the same way as a potential customer would in showing preference for pages with at least five reviews and places importance on reviews as a ranking factor. Encouraging your customers to post their reviews with details and photos is a great way to add depth to your profile. Responses to customer reviews also provides your profile with more content and demonstrates that the business is proactive in maintaining an online presence.
- Category – In setting up your profile, Google will ask you to pick a category for the services you offer. It is important to pick the category you really do fall into rather than a category you might want to fall in to.
- Photos – Uploading images of your logo, premises, staff and pictures that accurately represent your products or services can make a big difference in making a potential customer choose to contact you rather than your competitor. It’s a decision that is made within just a few seconds so being visual with your profile is key.
Reacting to Google changes
Google is constantly looking to evolve the services and experience it delivers to users. Due to this, the complex algorithms which determine which pages are displayed first can change on a regular basis, sometimes causing a huge impact on search results. In September 2016, an update was rolled out that turned local search results on their head, and changed 64% of local search results. The update, dubbed Possum, placed more focus on filtering out duplicate information or profiles from the same company and placed less emphasis on prioritising ranking for centrally located businesses better by default. Changes like these mean that keeping a close eye on the information your Google+ business profile displays is more important than ever.
As you can see, Google Business profiles can have a major impact on your local search success and this is something that needs to be planned and executed correctly. The time invested in perfecting the information displayed and encouraging customer to post reviews is definitely worthwhile, as it can result in an increase in customer enquiries, visits and ultimately conversions.
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