Google may have abandoned relevance for an aggressive social media power play when it began prominently displaying Google+ pages in search results.
Content recommended by friends and acquaintances is often more relevant than content from strangers, according to Google. Assuming Google+ continues to gain traction, theoretically this shift makes sense. Thankfully, opportunity knocks for your brand locations.
Whether you agree or disagree with the changes, opportunity abounds for the nimble brand that embraces Google+.
Conversation Marketing’s “Google Plus Box Ranking Factors Report” goes into great detail about the factors that influence rank for anyone interested in the nuts and bolts of how Google decides what is relevant when it comes to Google+ pages. Disclaimer: expect the ranking factors to change early and often.
Start Leveraging Google+ Pages Today for Quick Wins
Marketers have a new but challenging opportunity to tackle. Start by understanding some of the challenges and logical ways to proceed. Learn to adjust to the shift.
Many leading brands have already claimed and optimized local where they can, including:
- Google Place Pages
- Location or profile pages
- Store locators on brand websites
- Facebook pages
- Online directory listings
Unfortunately, none of these resources can directly help a brand take advantage of the Google+ strategy when it comes to search results.
Creating optimized Google+ Pages for your brand and all its brick and mortar locations can have significant time constraints related to page creation and maintenance processes; so some proactive brands looking to leverage local entities as a way to embrace Google+ have launched local marketing pilot programs. The pilot programs enable brands to learn the ins and outs of Google+ and its potential impact on local marketing efforts. Brands position themselves for future success by starting now.
Brands interested in launching a local marketing Google+ pilot program should:
- Choose local entities for the brand that already have an active local social strategy to participate in the pilot. This will allow you to connect the dots between pages and provide consistency.
- Start with a manageable number of locations – 5 to 10 percent of all locations to start and keep adding.
- Build the pages to be locally relevant by using keywords that describe the business, services, location, and areas served.
- Maintain the pages. Keep content fresh by posting often (every 48-72 hours). Localizing the posts and encouraging interaction with your circles is key. Focus on getting them to pass your messages and updates onto others to win the SEO gift that keeps on giving.
- Leverage existing resources. Link all business profile Websites, mobile pages, Google Place pages and other resources to Google+ to drive +1s. Conversely, incorporate these links into your about and introduction section of your Google+ Brand page.
- Encourage employees, vendors, customers, and partners to create pages and build circles with your Google+ pages.
Your pilot program tracking should focus on these metrics:
You should monitor these social trends on a weekly basis and study the impact a Google+ local business presence has on your local search engine rankings.
One more thing, if you haven’t reviewed Google+ Ripples yet, please do… very interesting!
As Google+ grows, lessons learned during the pilot stage will provide ample benefits to the brands that make the investment. Brands could soon be able to integrate Google+ into the same semi-automated content management and data feed systems that have helped them leverage local entities to dominate local search results. This would make the initiative much more scalable, reduce the required IT and marketing resources, make it easier for brands to maintain brand integrity, and generally minimize the associated costs.
Pilot programs enable brands to learn what works and what doesn’t and position themselves for future success as Google continues to set the stage for even more social search engagement with Google+.