The opportunity to boost local rankings and visibility by focusing local SEO tactics on Google+ continues to prove itself out as a winning strategy that can pay big dividends, according to a new aggregate case study from SIM Partners (disclosure: I work for SIM Partners), "How Your Competition is Beating You With Google+ Local Optimization". Just don't expect this opportunity to offer this much potential upside for too much longer.
Keep in mind just how local consumers' use of Google has become; according to a report from MDG Advertising:
- 59 percent of consumers use Google every month to find a reputable, local business.
- 50 percent of all mobile searches are conducted in hopes of finding local results, and 61 percent of those searches result in a purchase.
As more local businesses catch on to the ability of Google+ Local Pages to influence a business' rank on the local SERP for priority keywords, you can rest assured that more will get on board.
Independent small businesses are getting savvier all the time, and many top brands increasingly deploy local SEO efforts for hundreds or thousands of locations at scale to create expansive SERP footprints of local. As businesses wise up, competition will no doubt heat up.
Ripe opportunity still exists to boost local visibility with some focused SEO efforts. Consider the five primary optimization techniques employed by the businesses in this study and the impact the effort delivered on local visibility.
SIM Partners worked with 315 U.S. businesses to employ these tactics in an effort to improve local SERP visibility. Collectively, the businesses aimed to improve visibility for searches focused on 4,000 city/keyword combinations.
5 Proven Ways to Optimize A Brand's Google+ Local Profile
1. Craft Custom Business Descriptions for Each Location
When building a business description for any business location, focus on keywords the target market would use while searching instead of an explanation of services, facilities, products, etc. that set your business apart from competitors.
Previously, Google has limited the amount of characters a location could use on its page, but the new interface allows an unlimited number of characters. Still, remember to keep these descriptions short and sweet.
2. Add Additional Information (Photos, Videos, etc.)
While there are always fluctuations to the local algorithm, it is essential to monitor performance, because the number of photos a business adds may positively or negatively influence its rankings.
Because a business' primary photo is the first one potential customers will see, ensure that photo is eye-catching.
In order to provide Google an additional link to where important information about the business is stored, identify a citation source Google has not. Retrieve the URL from a photo on that site, and then load that URL into your Google Business listing.
3. Identify and Remove Duplicate Listings
Duplicate listings are undesirable for any business, because they essentially pit that business against itself. Compounding the problem, one of the listings often contains incorrect information.
Ultimately, a business' rankings suffer when reviews, click history, third party citations, etc. are split between two listings.
4. Identify Third Party Sites Where Adding Listing Information Can Improve Google Rankings
Google uses many off-site ranking factors to determine local results. Not only does Google check to see if other sites are mentioning the business; it also looks to see if that website is reputable. Because of this, it is critical to identify the most influential third party sites and submit robust information.
5. Modify Each Listing to Rank for Both Long- and Short-Tail Search Terms on a Continual Basis
As with almost any other digital marketing strategy, it is essential to keep tabs on Google business listings. The beginning of the optimization process requires the most maintenance.
Once your rankings begin to improve, upkeep will more than likely decrease, but businesses should track search volume trends that could affect their visibility positively or negatively.
Measuring Local Impact
Prior to optimization, these businesses ranked in the top seven positions for only 26 percent of their keyword combinations. Only 8 percent of combinations ranked in the top two positions.
Following enhancements to the businesses' profiles, the businesses increased the instances in which they ranked in the top seven local positions by 179 percent, in the top two positions by 399 percent, and in the third through fifth positions by 97 percent. Combinations for which the businesses didn't rank in any of the top seven positions decreased by 62 percent.
As this study demonstrates, enhancing a business' Google+ Local profile can only help in the quest to rank in the top seven local positions.