This week Google made waves when it folded all existing Google Places pages into Google+ and rebranded them as Google+ Local listings. Here’s a roundup of reactions and analysis from around the web, starting with two official announcements from the Goog:
- Local—now with a dash of Zagat and a sprinkle of Google+ | Google Official Blog
- Helping people discover and share local businesses with Google+ | Google and Your Business Blog
- Google+ Local Unlocks the Power of Zagat | Mashable
- New Google+ Local Tab Unveiled, Will Replace Google Places | Marketingland
- Google Places Is Over, Company Makes Google+ The Center Of Gravity For Local Search | Search Engine Land
- Meet Google+ Local, Zagat-Fueled Competition for Yelp | The Atlantic
- Google+ Local: What’s a Local Offline Marketer to Do? | Local Income Lab
- Google to Use Zagat to Refine Local Search | The New York Times
- Google Looks To One-Up Facebook With Google+ Local: A More Social Google Places, With A Twist Of Zagat | Tech Crunch
- Google Continues Quiet, Consistent Push For Google Plus | TMP IdeaLab
The early takeaway? This move effectively forces businesses and individual users to get involved with Google+ in a big way.
When you create a new listing in Google’s Local Business Center (LBC), you may be prompted if there are existing listings for your business. For those unfamiliar with the LBC, it’s where you create a business profile that shows up in Google Maps, as well as the natural search listings. Here’s an example:
Why would there already be a listing for your business? Because Google sometimes creates listings for businesses that have not yet created their own, and it does this by pulling information from sources across the web, including human-powered directories. It’s common that these Google-gathered listings have errors—for example, you may have changed your phone number or relocated since Google gathered its information.
There is often much confusion on what the proper steps are when you discover more than one existing local listing for your business in the search engines. The thing to do is claim and edit the existing listing.
It’s important to remember: For each physical location of your business, you should have only one listing. Having more than one can negatively impact the position of all of your listings, decreasing your visibility among local prospects (bad).
What if there are multiple listings? Google has recommended some steps to take to properly handle multiple listings for their Local Business Center:
- Choose the listing that you’d prefer to keep in your account. Make sure that you have all your enhanced content (photos, business hours, description) attached to this listing and this listing only.
- For duplicates of this listing in your account (the ones you want to remove), remove all enhanced information. Keep only required information, like the business title, address, and one phone number.
- Submit these changes and verify as necessary.
- Now, sit tight for a couple of weeks – just for good measure.
- Delete the duplicates from your account, choosing Remove this listing from my Local Business Center account.
The key point to remember is that it’s crucial to have one optimized listing for your business. This entry should have all of the additional information and be as close to 100 percent complete as possible. Local search has a ton of potential for small business and creating this optimized listing can dramatically increase your visibility among your target market and create a steady stream of free inbound leads.
As mentioned here last week, marketing a small or medium sized business through the local search results is an effective and smart way to generate new leads and sales to your business. As a local business owner getting your web site into the local business results on Google, also know as the 10-pack, can bring substantial new business for no direct cost.
In the past, once you had set up your local search listing on Google there was not a whole lot of visibility into how exactly those local search listings were benefiting you, other than corollary data in Google Analytics and the perceived increase in web based inquiries coming via phone calls, emails, or inquiry for submissions.
About two months ago, Google opened up Local Business Center reports, which give local business owners a detailed look into what is going on with their local search listings. These listings not only show small businesses marketers what they have done well, but also can show areas for improvement in their local business listing.
Let’s take a look at what’s included in the Google Local Business Center reports. » Read More
» Read More
Here’s why small businesses care about local search:
Because it’s is a way for them to cheaply connect with the best kind of prospects: the kind already looking for their products or services.
These prospects aren’t passive tire-kickers. According to a 2008 study by comScore, 82 percent of local internet searches result in some kind of action—whether it’s a click, call, in-store visit or actual purchase.
What’s defines a ‘local search’?
Scenario one: A consumer adds a geographic modifier to their search engine query (e.g., Denver pet stores). Local pet stores are displayed prominently.
Scenario two: The search engine notices the consumer’s IP address and displays local results, geographic modifier or not. For example, when I Google ‘pet stores’ or ‘Denver pet stores,’ I get similar results.
Google killed the phonebook star
Google, Yahoo, MSN (now Bing) and a handful of smaller search engines have gradually turned the phone book, once a valuable place to find information, into a glorified door jam.
The phone book isn’t dead yet. But web-enabled smart phones will probably steal the last bit of oxygen available.
Yesterday I was showing a copywriter friend about Google Local so she could write about it for us here at Kutenda (Did you know that our Online Marketing Suite will be a big help for companies marketing locally? Yup). I did a typical search that an average consumer might do. I searched for “pizza” here in Broomfield, Colorado, where our offices are.
Here’s what came up in the map results:
Look, the top result is a single-shop, local owned pizza place (they really do have good pizza, too). In the local results, its beating out Dominos, Papa Johns and BlackJack and other big wig pizza-pumping machines.
Local search continues to grow in importance, which just means to you – local or regional business owner – that you have better ways to harness your Internet marketing efforts more effectively. That you do have the opportunity to beat out that 900-lb gorilla in your business area, if you have the right tools to make it happen.
Our goal at Kutenda is to make online marketing more accessible to the small and medium sized businesses of the world. One of our areas of focus is helping companies appear in Google’s local maps search results, commonly referred to as the “10-pack.” An example of the 10-pack listings can be seen here:
Getting your company into these local search results has been an effective way of generating website traffic and leads for small businesses in the past. In the last two weeks significant changes to how Google is displaying the 10-pack results has increased the potential traffic of these listings by more that 60 times.
What were the changes that are causing this boost in small businesses’ potential online visibility? What does this mean for you as a small or medium sized business person? Check out this blog post from Search Engine Land’s David Mihm’s to find out.
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