There are a lot of misconceptions about how Google search works when it comes to discovering neighborhood businesses and competing with other establishments for coveted top spots. To make the most of your Google local presence, there are key items you need to know.
You don’t have to search with a city name, and your city name doesn’t have to be included everywhere in your SEO. People think that if they search for “eye doctors” that it will show a list of all eye doctors on the Internet unless they search with a city name, but that’s not the case. Typically, Google has a pretty good idea of where you are (depending on your settings) and will give you a local list. As long as your business has your city name in several spots on its website and on the contact page and you’ve claimed your Google page, it should show up in a Google search for businesses like yours in your area.
You have to claim your Google+ Page through Google My Business. Even if you feel that your following on Google+ is not as important compared to your Facebook fan base, you should be active on both platforms. The reason is that your Google+ page ties to your business location and should integrate with Google Maps, but it also is the fastest way for people searching to see your business. You need to claim your Google page to have control over critical information such as your business hours, phone number, and location on the map. Since Google is easily the most trafficked of all map sources, incorrect data in your listing could really hurt your business.
Getting more engagement on Google+ leads to a better local search listing. There’s some debate over how much weight the review icon has for your local listing. When you search something like “plumbers” and see who offers those services in your area, usually at least one of the top spots contains an icon stating the number of stars in the average review. Most digital marketing experts point to more and better reviews as one of the factors that help your business listing appear higher. Claiming your business page and linking patients to Google as a review site and responding to reviews is another very important factor for managing your presence.
There are other search engines out there, but Google is the most popular. If your marketing budget is limited and time is short, concentrating on your business website and Google listing is a good bet at capturing lots of relevant, local leads who will be happy to find you.
Samantha Toth is the resident Marketing Rockstar for Innereactive Media, a full-service marketing company specializing in the optical industry, in Grand Rapids, MI.
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