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.
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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).
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.