You already know that social media is a great way to drive web traffic and stay in front of your core audience. But it’s also a great way to drive traffic to your brick-and-mortar location. By using Yelp and Google+ Local, businesses can connect with customers and would-be customers where they live online.
Let’s start with Yelp. While businesses cannot set up their own pages in Yelp – businesses must first be reviewed by “Yelpers” – they can unlock those pages. Unlocking your page(s) in Yelp lets you take a modicum of control of your Yelp page. You won’t be able to delete negative reviews, but you will be able to respond to reviews – both positive and negative.
With an unlocked Yelp page you can also:
Unlocking your Yelp page helps you to characterize your business in your own words (and with your own images). It also gives you a powerful “in” with a large number of web users who are passionate about shopping local – and spreading the word.
Google+ Local is a different story entirely. The reincarnation of Google Places, Google+ Local is like a locally-optimized Facebook page for businesses. What’s best, Google+ Local pages show up in the search engine results. Keep your Google+ Local page updated with fresh content and promotions, and you’ll be sure to see increased traffic to both your website and your brick-and-mortar.
Just remember that social continues IRL (in real life). If a customer who found you through social has a negative experience in your store, you can bet they’re going to Yelp about it.
There was a splash in the SEO world a few weeks ago when Google announced the dissolution or integration (depending on how you look at it) of Google Places. By incorporating Google+ into Google Maps and its business listings, users now have Google+ Local instead of Google Places. On the surface, it looks like Google is just continuing the expansion of its social media platform —like it or not, business owners have been forced onto Google+ to manage their Local pages. Why bother implementing this disorienting change? Will it bring real value to both users and business owners?
The quick answer is: yes. By looking at the old Places pages, you can tell Google had intended them to be more social than they really were. Google quit aggregating data from Yelp and other sources to push their own reviewing system. Later, they increased interaction by allowing businesses to post exclusive deals and coupons. But due to the limitations of the Places pages, this social type of usage never really took off. Most Places pages were more like stubs of information rather than go-to hubs of interaction.
Local pages changes all that. They’re like company Facebook pages, but arguably more robust because of integration with Google Maps, Zagat reviews, and Google+ (you can see how your circles interact with the business). Furthermore, Local pages will be indexed by search engines (Places pages were not). These two factors combine to provide great benefits for business owners.
As noted above, Local pages are robust offerings that encourage interaction between users and a business. A strong Local page is one that provides all the pertinent business information and has high user engagement (such as posting responses to reviews, starting hangouts, sharing updates, coupons, etc.). By keeping your Local page fresh and interacting with your customers, you can increase the page’s ranking in local search results.
Verify your listing, fill out your page, and start engaging your customers. When robust content and a high-ranking combine, your Local page could be the first and last place they visit before deciding to convert.
Google Places Listings converted to Google+ Local pages, affecting an estimated 80 million business listings worldwide, according to Google’s Marissa Mayer. The Google Businesses Plus Page described the release in a recent post as, “a new way to discover local information across Google.” The Google+ Local pages will be accessible via Google.com and Google Map searches, or from a search using the Google+ Mobile App. There is also new integration of the Zagat ratings system for restaurants and more, where consumer reviews from Google Places have converted from five star ratings to 1-30 point reviews that offer robust criteria to rate services, experience, décor, etc. These reviews will cater personalized recommendations to Google+ users– sorting by circles to reveal reviews or check-ins from people in their network – and will appear in natural search results.
The streamlined design of the Google+ Local pages will include photos, a map of the location, and contact information for the business. It will be important for business owners to find their new Google+ Local page listing, and click on the “manage page” button – located to the lower right – in order to update the page or interact with consumers by having “hangouts” and sharing updates. This interaction is designed to produce a more loyal consumer base, and truly put “word-of-mouth” marketing to work online and offline. As a preview, below are screenshots from the different views to expect when encountering the Google+ Local pages:
Google Maps Search:
Google+ Local Page:
Google+ Local Pages on the Mobile App:
Google+ Local pages will continue to integrate deeper within the social platform. Features like mobile check-in deals – are expected to be released soon. Do you have a business location that needs to be managed and optimized, or questions about participating in Google+? Send those questions by clicking here, calling us at 800.787.0497, or submitting them in the comments below.