Google+ Local is a powerful tool for small businesses targeting local customers because it combines customer reviews and local search into one platform. Yet, many small businesses still aren’t sure how to take advantage of Google+ Local.
Let's take a look at two key ways small businesses can use Google+ Local right now to get new customers.
Use Google+ Local to Increase Local Search Visibility
According to Google, 20 percent of all Google searches have local intent and 40 percent of Google mobile searches have local intent. Combined with the fact that 97 percent of consumers search online for local businesses, it's easy to see why it's essential for small businesses to have high local search visibility. Through Google+ Local, there are two ways you can increase your local search visibility.
- Google's universal search. When Google knows a search has local intent, it will include Google+ Local pages in the search results. These results typically appear at or near the top of the first search results page, making them a great opportunity for local businesses to achieve high visibility amongst a lot of competing pages.
- With the local search that is available within Google+ itself. The Google+ Local search provides consumers with an alternative to the universal search for finding local businesses. One of the major benefits of the Google+ Local search is that your Google+ Local page will only compete with other Google+ Local pages for visibility, rather than websites, PPC ads, and other competing distractions.
Several factors determine how well your Google+ Local page ranks in both the Google universal search results and Google+ local search results, but that is a topic for another discussion.
For now, focus on making your Google+ Local page as informative and appealing as possible. This means adding complete information about your business, including photos and videos, and encouraging reviews from customers.
Google wants to provide searchers with the most relevant and useful results possible. The more complete your Google+ Local page is, the better it will perform against competing Google+ Local pages.
Use Reviews to Turn Clicks Into Customers
Assuming you've taken advantage of Google+ Local to increase your local search visibility, positive reviews will help turn that visibility into new business. Positive reviews are powerful drivers for converting clicks into customers.
Oftentimes, potential customers will never make it past the reviews on your Google+ Local page before deciding whether to do business with you. To use Google+ Local reviews to your advantage, it's helpful to understand how they work.
Reviews are scored on a 30-point Zagat scale, which is derived by averaging individual user ratings, based on a 3-point scale and multiplying by 10. In fact, your customers can rate your business without having to actually write a review.
When a potential customer performs a search on either the Google universal search or Google+ Local search, one of the first things they will see next to your listing is your Zagat score. A good score will increase clicks on your listing. Likewise, a bad score can prevent a potential customer from clicking on your listing altogether.
Now that you know how the Google+ Local reviews work, and how important they are, take advantage of them by asking your customers to leave reviews on your Google+ Local page. You should also respond to your customers' reviews, whether positive or negative.
Regardless of which type of review you're responding to, your response should always be positive. A negative response from an owner to a negative review will leave potential customers with an equally negative first impression of you and your business.
Google+ Local can be utilized by small businesses in many ways, but using the strategies outlined in this article make it a powerful tool for acquiring new customers.