But once you’re operations are running smoothly, whether you’re a local pizza shop or a sneaker store, it certainly helps to have Google on your side. Had Google+ (the social networking site that started two years ago in a desperate bid to compete with ever-growing Facebook) not been owned by the world’s most dominant search engine, it would probably be little more than a flash-in-the-pan memory by now.
Instead Google has managed an admirable feat. While Google+ is not the social influencer that Facebook and Twitter have become, it has turned into something equally valuable: a great resource for businesses.
Google rewards businesses that post on Google+ with higher search rankings. The more active your business, the higher your ranking climbs, which is especially valuable for local searches where you have fewer competitors battling for results. Here are seven tips for helping your business thrive by using Google+.
1. Fill Out All Your Information
You’ve surely seen information about a business you’re searching for pop up on the right side of your Google search results. You can thank Google+ for that. By filling out all of the information that’s asked for on the Google+ page, including the address, phone number and hours of your establishment, your business can also get slotted to the right side searches, delivering all the relevant information someone is looking for without forcing them to click anywhere else. Talk about convenience.
2. Optimize Your Post’s Title
Google+ makes the first sentence of your post into the title of your post as well. Because everyone has been drilled in the art of SEO, you know that it’s essential to make your title something smart, relevant and interesting that will draw a lot of clicks. For example, say your business makes party hats. If you title a post, “Party hats are a lot of fun,” you probably won’t get a lot of hits.
But if you title it, “Six unexpected uses for party hats,” you’re much more likely to get click-throughs. Also be sure to pepper your first sentence with keywords.
3. Utilize Hangouts
One of the unique features of Google+ is Hangouts, where you can “hang out” with your customers in real time. Schedule times for different employees to be on the social network for face time with potential or longtime customers. Pick different topics to address each session. Have you had a lot of feedback about your slow-loading web page or many requests for a certain product that you haven’t reordered since Easter? Address those concerns during Hangouts.
It also goes a long way toward putting a face to your business, which, again, attracts customers looking for a personal touch.
4. Review Other Businesses
When people do geo-based searches, Google now pops up a local carousel that lists all possible results, along with photos of the businesses. Of course, it’s great to get your business listing into that carousel, because it is so eye-catching. But you can also draw additional traffic to your site by appearing as one of the reviewers quoted in articles about those businesses.
Turn your Google+ page into a mini review site, offering your take on other local establishments to help surfers in their quest for local information. Be honest, but limit your reviews largely to places you feel good about endorsing so that you’re not bashing other local businesses. Your reviews will show up with your business’s name attached, leading to click-throughs.
Yep, this sounds like an obvious tip, but you’d be surprised how many businesses do not employ it. Just as you undoubtedly have a Facebook and a Twitter button on your web site allowing people to find you easily on social media, put a Google+ “+1” button on as well.
Also include this on your site’s pages where you post information and news, so that your customers can easily share it across Google+.
6. Seek Out Influential Local Contacts
People who wield local influence are great ways to spread the word about your business on Google+. Find the names of the local chamber of commerce head, the local newspaper publisher and local bloggers.
Make sure you are connected with them on Google+, where you can share content ranging from dates for upcoming events to sales, in the hopes they’ll pass some of it along to their followers. Mentioning them by name in a post is a good idea too.
7. Enable Authorship
If you have not done this already, be sure to enable authorship for everyone who posts to your Google+ account. This essentially gives each post a personal touch. It lets browsers know who wrote the item, which is useful for small businesses trying to establish community connections. But it’s also an effective search engine optimization (SEO) tactic.
Studies have shown that no matter where a story shows up on a page, it is more likely to be clicked on if it includes authorship. This may be because in an age of so much computer-generated information, it’s reassuring to see an actual person behind information on the web.