Driving Traffic To Your Door With Google + Local

Posted on June 13, 2012 · Posted in Google Plus Local

Setting up and optimizing your Google+ Local page is one of the best ways to steer high-quality local search engine traffic right to your door. Here’s why: Every single day, people and companies search Google for nearby vendors to do business with. So the question is, does your business show up? And if so, how well does your listing reflect your business and serve your goals?

Here are some helpful tips for using Google+ Local to reach your customers at the BEST POSSIBLE moment: when they’re looking for the products and services you sell.

Let’s go ahead and get started!

Who cares?

Before we get off to the races, let’s start off by answering “the why”—i.e., Why should your business bother using Google+ Local at all? Small and midsized businesses typically have few extra resources, so they are very protective over them. What’s more, people have become cynical (justifiably) about over-hyped, fly-by-night marketing gimmicks.

For that reason, I want to take a moment to explain why I think it’s worthwhile for your business to set up a Google+ Local page, and further, why Google+ is a platform that will deliver sustainable results for your organization.

The answer to the “why” question is pretty straightforward. There are several statistics that matter here …

  • 97 percent of consumers search for local businesses online With 65.9 percent market share, the clear majority of these local searches are done using Google, which is still the undisputed king of web search (Bing has 15.1 percent market share).
  • 72 percent of consumers research companies through social channels before making purchases.
  • 71 percent claim reviews from family members or friends exert a “great deal” or “fair amount” of influence on their purchase decisions.

Moreover, Google has clearly decided to place a lot of value on local listings in their search results. What’s more, as Google pushes into mobile, the company will feature local listings through their mobile apps for Android (currently available) and iPhone (in the works), helping nearby customers discover your business.

So, if you take all of these things together, it’s easy to see that Google+ Local is an incredible opportunity to get in front of your target market, right at the moment they’re looking for what you sell. And we don’t expect this to change in the foreseeable future.

Benefits? Check.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t take a moment to list the basic business benefits of using Google+ Local. Here’s a quick list—it’s not exhaustive by any means, but it’s a good start:

  • Pay nothing (it’s free).
  • It won’t cost you a penny to list your business on Google. (That said, it will take you some time to set up your page.)
  • Get found on Google, increase website/store traffic.

This is probably the most compelling benefit. In the digital age, Google is virtually everyone’s first stop when looking for any kind of information—including local vendors. By increasing your visibility in search, you open your business to an *enormous* and constantly growing audience of people who need and want what YOU sell.

Get found on mobile devices (!!!)

Most local businesses struggle to maintain a web presence at all, let alone a “responsive” web presence that is fully optimized for mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. The fact is, the web is becoming increasingly mobile. Morgan Stanley predicts that mobile web browsing will outpace desktop browsing within just a few years.

Businesses ignore this trend at their own peril!

By optimizing your Google+ Local page, your business can effectively outsource its mobile marketing to Google, which offers consumers several mobile apps that facilitate local business discovery. These mobile apps help buyers find you!

Help your business stand out amongst the competition

Get this: according to a recent count, only 20 percent of eligible small businesses have claimed their listing on Google+ Local! By claiming your listing you greatly increase your ability to stand out in your industry or niche. Why leave this low-hanging fruit for your competitors to snatch up?

Learn more about your customers

It’s no shocker: Google, a company founded and run by coders, is all about analytics. And thus, their business tools, Google+ Local included, come with excellent tools for mining data and gathering market intelligence you can use to improve your offering, keep customers happy, and collect bigger profits.

Boost engagement with images and updates

In the past 10 years, the web has gotten social. Google is no exception. They’ve made it easier for businesses to engage with their customers and build relationships. And here’s the thing: your customers *expect* you to be active on social networks like Google+. Think I’m just making that up? On the contrary: according to a Cone Business Study:

  • 93 percent of customers expect companies to have a presence on social channels.
  • 85 percent expect companies to interact with them on those social channels.

Pocket bigger profits than the competition

As you can see, Google+ Local is a free resource that helps you get found online, drive more traffic to your website, stand out in a crowded marketplace, acquire insight into your customer base, engage with your customers using a variety of media types, increase sales with promos and special offers, and ultimately, boost your overall profitability.
But what is Google+ Local exactly?

Before we go too much further, let’s take a moment to make sure we’re all on the same page in terms of what precisely Google+ Local is. This tool is pretty new, after all.

A replacement-in-progress for Google Places, Google+ Local is a tool that allows business owners to update and manage their physical business location information and connect with local customers. Google+ Local is integrated with all of Google’s key products—desktop and mobile apps included.

Let’s look at some of the basic functions of this tool, for users and for businesses

With Google+ Local, users can:

  • Get place recommendations based on their “circles,” their past reviews, and their location.
  • Publish reviews and photos of their favorite places.
  • Read Zagat summaries of user reviews for a place.
  • View the local Google+ page for a business to see reviews, photos, and other information.
  • Find reviews from people they know and trust highlighted in their search results.
  • Get found on Google free of charge and help your business stand out.
  • Add photos, update physical address and hours, or promote your business with ads.
  • Connect with customers: Google+ Local lets you see what people are saying, and respond to customer reviews.
  • Interact with customers directly and build a following (a la Facebook): Start real face-to-face conversations, post messages to your circles.
  • Share: videos, customer photos, product updates, promotion info, testimonials, case studies—anything and everything!

To be continued…