Google+ Local – What Is It? Why Use It?

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Google+ Local, which used to be known as Google Places, is a free online platform that Google provides. It has two purposes – to help business owners increase their online visibility and to help people find, engage with, and review businesses in their local area. It’s effectively the most comprehensive and accessible business directory ever created. It’s much more than just a directory though, as it’s social and interactive too.

Google+ Local pages are for businesses that serve customers primarily in their local area, with examples of types of businesses that the pages are meant for including, but not being limited to: accountants, builders, salons, couriers, dentists, driving schools, gyms, photographers, recruitment agencies, restaurants, caterers, electricians, estate agents, garages, plumbers, and solicitors.

Whenever someone is using anything Google related, and searches for something which Google determines to have local intent, such as ‘dentists London’ or ‘restaurant in Newcastle’, links to 3 Google+ Local pages will be displayed. These local business listings in Google are valuable for a few reasons:

  • They’re normally located above the standard search results.
  • Your business’s address and phone number is displayed alongside them.
  • A direct link to your business’s location on a map is provided.
  • A direct link to reviews left by your customers is provided.

When clicking through to a business’s Google+ Local page, people can see the following:

  • The business’s name, address and phone number.
  • A description of the business.
  • The business’s location on a map.
  • The business’s opening hours.
  • A link to the business’s website.
  • Photos and videos related to the business.
  • Reviews of the business left by previous customers.
  • A rating out of 5 for the business (based on scores given by previous customers).

This is an example of what a Google+ Local page looks like:

Example Of A Google+ Local Page

Now you know what Google+ Local is, let’s look at the reasons that your business should not just be aware of the platform, but should be actively embracing it.

Access To More People
In terms of connecting businesses with people at the exact time when they’re looking for a particular service in their area, nothing comes close to the reach of Google, which is the default starting point for most people searching online for information.

Better Presence In Search Results
Google+ Local pages are normally listed above the standard search results which means that the businesses listed there have a greater presence and get more attention. It’s also possible to be listed in both Google’s local business listings and within the standard search results, which means two 1st page listings instead of one.

Gain Trust With Customers
To people searching on Google, the verification process and unbiased rating/review system used for Google+ Local pages makes them more trustworthy than business websites, and rightly so, as Google makes it very difficult for unscruplous businesses to attain good rankings in their local search results.

Meet Mobile User Expectations
Unlike most business websites, Google+ Local pages, and even the local business listings themselves, are completely optimised for people searching for information using a mobile phone. The fact that it’s quicker and easier for mobile users to contact businesses using Google+ Local means that they’re more likely to do so.

Engage With Customers
Rather than just being a one-way promotional tool, Google+ Local pages make it easy for businesses to engage with customers (existing ones and potential ones) and vice versa. The platform makes it simple for each to message, follow and show appreciation for the another.

For those reasons, and also because the platform is both free to use and simple to set-up, you should definitely start using Google+ Local today. The sooner you get started, the sooner your business will be visible when people in your area search for keywords relevant to your business, and the sooner you’ll start receiving a steady flow of customers from Google.

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