When Google rolled out Google+, people thought the social media site would have difficulty establishing itself as a critical social media platform where people would flock to. Google+ has long since established itself as an indispensable service though; myriad forums threads and articles have discussed its numerous facets. In light of all this, it may be a good idea to learn as much as you can about how Google+ can be used to improve your local SEO campaigns.
Set up a Google+ Local Page
In the past, there was Google+ and Google Places. Then Google put them together to form Google+ Local. Although a Google+ Local page won’t really affect your organic search ranking, it’ll provide users with more information about your business. If you already have a Google account and registered your business in Google Place before, then there’s no need for you to register again for Google+ Local, as your information will automatically be shared there. If you haven’t registered, though, you’ll have to go to Google Places and provide all the necessary information about your business.
The next step is to verify your business listing. There are several verification options; let’s assume you chose to receive verification via postcard. As soon as you get the postcard from Google, you need to go to google.com/local/add. Sign in with your Google username and password, and then enter the pin indicated on the postcard. Now all you need to do is wait for Google to start displaying your business listing.
Make Sure Your Profile is Complete
When you fill out information in your Google+ profile, make sure it’s complete because Google tends to prioritize different aspects of your profile for search results and on-page optimization. Some people only go so far as to provide an introduction. You should be sure to fill out the spaces provided for Employment, Occupation, and Bragging Rights. Additionally, you should provide all of your other online profiles (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) as well as the sites where you regularly contribute (blogs, forums, etc.). You should also fill out the Recommended Links portion, keeping in mind that the first three links you provide are sometimes reflected in search results.
Remember as well that the first 55 characters of your profile introduction are very important where search results within Google+ are concerned. When you craft your introduction, therefore, you have to ensure that you can make an excellent first impression even when only the first 55 characters are seen.
Get More Google+ Followers
A lot of people say quantity always wins over quality, but that may not necessarily be true in terms of improving local SEO using Google+. If you take the time to study your search rankings, you’ll discover that you rank higher for searches made by someone who follows you on Google+ as compared to someone who doesn’t. When you get more followers, therefore, you stand a better chance of getting on the first page of search results.
So, how do you go about getting more followers on Google+? You can start by sharing a link to your Google+ profile on your other social networking accounts and asking your audience there to connect with you on Google+. It’s also a good idea to place a link to your profile on your company website. If you have a blog, you can post a link to your profile there as well. In fact, you should post a link to your profile wherever you can – on your email signature, on your forum profiles, or when you post comments on the web.
Google+ now allows you to claim authorship for your online content. Once you’ve claimed authorship, people will see not only your link, but also your picture and your name. If the person conducting the online search is logged into Google+ at the time of the search, he or she will also be given the option to add you to their circles. There are generally two ways for you to claim authorship on Google+. The first is to list your email address in your profile and then provide that email address on each content you publish. The second is to link your Google+ profile to your content and vice versa. After setting up wither of these options, you should then fill out the Google authorship request form. You can test if you’ve successfully claimed authorship with the use of the Google Rich Snippets Testing Tool.
Ask for +1s
Just as it is important to have as many followers on Google+ as possible, it’s also important to get as many +1s for your pages as possible. Bear in mind that the number of +1s each page gets typically appears in search results. This is why it’s advisable for you to have a +1 button on your website. Make sure you’re using the latest +1 code provided by Google and make sure you install the +1 button on all of your web pages. Not only does the number of +1s show users how popular your page is, the +1 button also allows them to easily share your content on their own Google+ page. To benefit fully from the +1 button, don’t be afraid to ask your followers across all social media sites to click on it.
Be Active on Google+
Sure, you’ve filled out your profile completely on Google+. You’ve brought your followers from other social networking sites to your Google+ page as well. You’ve asked for +1s from your social followers. If you want to take full advantage of the platform for SEO purposes, however, you’ll have to be active on Google+ in the same way you actively engage with your audience on other social platforms. Post a minimum of five updates and share a minimum of five pieces of content each week. You should also be sure to respond to questions and comments from your circles quickly, simply, and in a humble manner.
Wherever possible, you should drive traffic from your Google+ page to your blog and website. Any promotion you do on Google+ should be classified as soft promotion; hard-selling can be done on your website. It’s also advisable for you to interact with other users on relevant Google+ pages at least ten times each week. All of these activities should increase people’s awareness of your brand and make them more likely to click on your links when they come up in search results.
Bonus Tip: Be Patient. In most cases, it takes some time for Google to reward your efforts. Just because you’ve applied all of the tips given above, your local SEO campaigns won’t necessarily exhibit a significant improvement overnight. Sometimes it can takes weeks, months, or even years for you to see some significant results from your efforts. The key is in not giving up, continuing to apply good SEO practices, and keeping your eyes on your goal.
The tips given herein are far from complete. There are plenty of other ways for you to leverage Google+ for local SEO purposes, but the above should get you off to a good start. What’s important is for you to remember that the SEO landscape changes constantly. You have to prepare yourself for the eventuality of Google implementing more updates in the years to come. It is only when you open yourself to change that you can truly ensure SEO success.