The Cloud Around Google+ Local
Google is typically the de-facto service of sending online customers to your brick and mortar business, and millions of people depend on it on a daily basis. In the past year, Google has integrated Google Places into its Google+ social network, birthing Google+ Local. This big change was quickly overlooked by many business owners and has caused a lot of confusion around Google’s local search network.
If you already have a Google Places listing, that’s an excellent start and means you can move your profile over to a Google+ Local profile. Chances are that many of your competitors haven’t done this yet, leaving the door wide open for your to get your business there first and soak up the extra foot traffic. After all, local search is a huge chunk of Google searches. Google estimates that 97% of consumers search for local businesses online. Can you remember the last time you looked up a business in the Yellow Pages? I can’t either. Google also states that:
- Local search queries on desktops accounts for 20% of all searches
- Local searches on mobile devices accounts for 40%
- Mobile searches accounts for 13% of total web traffic, and is rapidly expanding
- 94% of smartphone users search for local businesses on their mobile phone
Google has partnered with Zagat and Frommers to provide 3rd party reviews of businesses, retiring Google’s simply 5-star rating system. Positive reviews help drive up your local search rankings and provide as a “go ahead” for new customers to try out your business. Even Geico pays $10 for a positive Google+ Local review to their customers to help give them an edge in the ultra-competitive insurance market.
Google has also recently rolled out Google Business Photos. Business owners can pay a local Google cerified photographer to compile a virtual tour of your business which will then be shown in Google Places and Google+ Local, an excellent option for any organization wanting to give potential customers an inside look into your business without taking a step inside.