There seems to be an on-going debate if you can boost your SEO rankings with Google+ really helps your websites SEO ranking. I have heard both sides of the coin, and there seems to be sceptics and believers. At DesignLab, we are true BELIEVERS! I mean if you want to be on the first page of Google then why would you not use of all Google’s free add-ons (i.e YouTube, Google Analytics, Google Maps, etc). Any blind person could see that if Google own the SEO market, then you would be crazy not to take opportunity of all they have to offer.

It should go without saying that a businesses Google+ Page signals (any Google property’s signals) have a significant impact on its organic — and more specifically local pack — results. And while many discredit the influence of Google+, the simple fact is that studies of SERP ranking factors continue to highlight the influence Google My Business signals (and therefore Google+) have on your company’s organic rankings.

Google My Business now makes it easier than ever to manage your company’s presence on Google. But setting up an account and a Google+ Business Page is not enough to keep your business ranking in a good position. It takes a little bit of time, in the following steps will help you with the SEO benefits of Google+ and maintain your local rankings.


Pizza New York

Example of Local Pack results for a search query: “Pizza New York”

A Google+ Guide for Local SEO Success

The following guide presents recommended steps to boost a local business online presence.
Note: these steps apply to a Business Page for local businesses and not a Brand Page.

  1. Set Up Your My Business Account

Visit Google My Business to create a business listing on Google Maps. You will then be prompted to verify the listing with a unique code that you can choose to receive by phone call or a postcard (be wary it can take a few weeks to post, and Google only give you 30 days to activate the code). Once verified, your Business Page is ready!

There is another scenario in which you may now — or already — have two Google+ pages for your company:

  • a pre-existing Brand Page (where you actively post updates)
  • a local Business Page (connected to Google Maps and displays reviews)

Luckily after the release of Google My Business, Google introduced a feature enabling you to transfer core data from the local page (Google Maps pin, location and verification, as well as reviews) to your brand page, creating one united Local Business Page (connected to Google Maps, displays reviews and you can post updates, add images, interact with others etc). Google offers very clear instructions for connecting the two pages.

Once you have verified your Business Page, it is important the business information you supply is 100% complete, accurate and up-to-date. The following are core Business Page elements that when properly optimised, help push your organic and local pack results in the right direction.

• Business Category

Make sure you select the correct category tags for your business to ensure Google displays your SERP result for the right searches. The category describes what your business is (e.g. real estate agency), not what it does (e.g. property valuations) or the product it sells (e.g. houses). You can set a primary category followed by secondary categories, but it needs to accurately represent your business.

• Set the NAP (name/address/phone number)

These are displayed below your business name and profile image on your Business Page. Your business name, address and phone number should be referenced in the same manner across your Business Page, your website and any other platform where they are displayed. Google now has strict guidelines for representing your business on Google+, including:

  1. Your business name on Google+ should reflect your business’s real-world name as it is displayed on your storefront and all other marketing material.
  2. Use a physical address, not a PO BOX, so Google Maps can pin your business to the map and your customers can find you! Trust me we have had many customers with PO box issues.
  3. Use your local/landline phone number, not a 1800 toll free number.

• Business Information

Put your business’s official website because this will create a link to your site. Ensure the company introduction is filled out, making sure it is clear and concise. It is beneficial to include keywords your site already ranks for as the introduction is used as your page’s meta description in Google’s SERPs.

• Opening Hours

Check your opening hours are correct- there are reports that Google may not include your Google Plus page result in its local SERPs if the hours listed indicate the company is closed and especially if no opening hours are listed at all. You can also add information regarding payment options and images for better engagement if you like.

  1. Optimise your Page for Better Local Organic Rankings

Now that your account has been set up, here are some additional actions you can take to increase the SEO of your Business Page.

Encourage Reviews From Your Customers on Google+

Encourage customers to write positive reviews of your business by clicking ‘Write a Review’ on your local Business Page or from the SERP or knowledge graph results.


Reviews can increase the authority of your Google+ page with more high quality, positive reviews, the likelihood of ranking well in the local search pack increases. Just take a look at the Local Pack results for a local search (example above), or the organic results and knowledge graph for a local brand-name search and you will see exactly why reviews are so important- because Google loves displaying them in search results! Users also trust reviews, so the more positive reviews your brand has, the higher your CTR and conversions. So, start encouraging your customers to help you out!

Claim a Custom URL

Once the local page has been verified, you can claim a custom URL to match your brand. This incorporates your brand name in your page’s custom URL to increase your brand’s visibility in Google’s SERPs.

Connect Your Business YouTube Channel

Your Businesses YouTube channel’s settings provide the option to link your channel to your Business Page. Once they are linked, your channel’s videos will be displayed under an additional “YouTube” tab offering additional elements for engagement on Google+. A link to the Business Page will also appear on your channel, sending more valuable traffic to your Google+ page. With the additional activity on your Business Page, the social signals from your business’s account will also play a bigger role in your rankings.

Remove Duplicate Business Pages

Run a search for your business in Google+ to track down any duplicated Business Pages. If you have access, you can remove the pages or if you do not want to delete the page, leave an update directing visitors to your active Business Page. It is quite common to find a number of Business Pages with your company name (such as additional local pages linked to an old location on Google Maps, different Business Pages set up by different accounts etc).

  1. Promote Your Google+ Page to Gain Followers

It is not enough just to set up a Business Page and integrate it with other Google properties to achieve top results in local search. You must maintain the page and use it to interact and build brand awareness across the web. The following are some tips to gain followers and increase your page’s engagement:

  • Post updates frequently and keep your profile fresh. Users are more likely to engage with a page that is up to date, active and complete. Always use hashtags related to the topic you are posting about for better searchability. Incorporate images and videos to encourage engagement from your followers. All simple steps.
  • Add influential people and pages to your circles (especially in your local area). The key to building your following is to engage and interact with other personal and business profiles by commenting, sharing and +1’ing their relevant content as many will often reciprocate these actions. The more activity and engagement you receive on your content, especially +1’s, the more likely Google will favour your page in SERP results.
  • Encourage your website’s visitors to visit your Business Page by embedding the Google+ badge on your site. This allows your site visitors to directly engage with your page, consolidating +1’s from your website and your Business Page.
  • Include a link to your Business Page in other marketing material such as your company’s email signature and your AdWords advertising campaigns.


In summary the key to Google+ success, as with most social networks is to remain active, to engage and be engaging and to send a consistent message to your users. With a little bit of time and effort, your Google+ Business Page has the power to keep your business highly visible both within Google’s local pack and local organic search results and organic results overall.

Why does every website look the same


I am sure by now you have started to notice that most, if not all website look the same from design agencies, designers, and personal blogs.

But we think that is OK!

Over the last couple of years, a common visual trend has started to be noticeable online. You’ve seen it before; a full-width website, with a full-width photo or video background slider, usually it has centered text overlaid, logo always on the left, and navigation on the right.


Does this sound like your website? This is now, a reflection of what users expect from a website. Design patterns exist to give an interface a proven and recommended layout for its function and controls, while having to bear in mind the expectations of its users.

What has happened is the user is now very used to this kind of layout. It is recognisable and familiar, it feels comfortable to use. Designers knowing that this formula works, continue to apply it, repeating the loop and avoiding innovation. Sticking too much to the same patterns over and over again ends up limit creativity, and we’d all like to avoid it where possible. However, a user expectation is something that has always been considered when designing a website, because at the end of the day, they are the ones who matter.


There are a few reasons how this happened. The sudden boom of interest in flat design online — due to its simplicity — the evolution of responsive websites, and native video with HTML5, were all things that helped this visual trend become mainstream. All these technologies grouped together made it easier than ever to create more interactive, creative and appealing websites; but the biggest irony is that it has also helped to create the ‘standardised look’.

The technological evolution that our devices and computers have surpassed over the last couple of years, more designers want to make the best use possible of these. Responsive websites allow designers to create incredibly flexible experiences that make the best use of our screens, from a small mobile phone up to our TV screen. JavaScript, CSS transitions, and better and more frequently updated and standards compliant browsers, allow us to create an even more interactive experience that works great across devices.


Another reason that helps with this similar look are the creations of front-end frameworks. To simplify the creation and development of websites, a bunch of front-end frameworks have been created. They come with prebuilt layouts and styles for forms, text and buttons, grid systems, and media queries to make it easier for developers to create a responsive website.

Frameworks such as Squarespace and Foundation from Zurb are used by web developers and web designers all around the world for their projects. This makes for quicker development, and lower budgets for their clients, all while avoiding the trouble of reinventing the wheel for common website requirements.

Templates and themes are being built, sold, bought, and used more now than ever. Nowadays, you can find really well developed, good and flexible templates that you can use and adapt to a variety of different designs and purposes, allowing designers (and even non-designers) to build websites without having an in-depth knowledge of web development.

In a way, frameworks and templates are just helping to skip a step in the process of building a website.


Nearly everyone uses the Internet nowadays. It has evolved to the point where it’s almost considered a necessity comparable to electricity and water, because the Internet is knowledge, and we all know that knowledge is power!

It is evolving in such a way that a “user” isn’t just a “visitor” anymore. They now can be a creator as well, creating content and sharing their own ideas and points of view, be it through text, sound or video. And while everyone can create and share content, not everyone knows how to design or develop a website. So it’s for those people that resources like themes and templates are especially useful, but even then what we have found is the novice do run into problems with pre-designed and built websites.


Even though a lot of websites look really similar these days, it doesn’t mean that creativity is dead. On the contrary, these are very exciting times for developers and designers, web technology has never been so powerful!

It’s not about the fullscreen background video, it’s about the concept and content, and the creativity behind an experience. Focus on the abilities of the devices, focus on the reach and potential of these technologies to create a different and engaging experience. Don’t do what everyone else is doing, don’t follow the trend just for the sake of following the trend. Be creative and unleash that creativity through fullscreen and responsive websites, using video and audio, to create experiences, not just websites.


I’m not worried that so many websites look alike. It’s simply a product of the common resources we have today, and I believe it’s a good thing that designers have more tools online to create their own content and to express themselves more easily.

There’s actually a lot of great work being done everyday. Just keep an eye open for the award winning work on websites such as Awwwards; you’ll be surprised by how much creativity is not being lost.