Your business's local Google+ page could be like this:
But I'm guessing it's more like this:
Don't feel bad. You're not alone. Most businesses neglect their local Google+ (AKA Google Places) pages.
At best they're virtual business cards - minus the paper and social significance. At worst they fail to make would-be customers step inside, because they look about as comforting and cool as a colostomy bag.
There's hope. If you hustle, you can be the only one in your 'hood with a pimped Google page that makes mad bank.
You may remember the post I wrote over 2 years ago, How to Pimp Your Google Places Listing. That's old-school. Less than 4 months after I wrote it, Google retired the old Places pages. Much else has changed in the last couple of years - with the most-recent big change being the “My Business” rollout.
In that time, I've put together a whole new bag of tricks for pimping a Google page. (By the way, we help you with these as part of our LocalSpark service.)
A few notes:
I'm assuming you've got the upgraded, “fully social” type of Google page.
Some of these tips will improve the user-experience for people who are on your page, and others will help your page stand out in the search results (and some tips will do both). All of them can help your local rankings at least indirectly.
These tips should still apply even if local Google+ / Google Places pages get a new name a month from now. It's possible. Google's “local” department has gone through more name-changes than Larry King has gone through wives.
Given that the dust seems to have settled for a few minutes on the new types of Google pages, I can finally give you my suggestions for how to pimp yours.
#1 - Pick a clever name for your business.
If you're just starting out or are rebranding anyway, now is the time to think about your business name. You'll stand out in the search results and will probably steal most of the clicks from your lame competitors. You can also start your relationship with customers the right way: with a chuckle.
Some of my favorite names.
No, “Fidler” is not a typo. Dr. Vicki Fidler is the dentist there.
Then you've got the Best Western in Intercourse, PA.
And my all-time favorite - a piercing salon in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma:
#2 - Consider adding a “descriptor” to your business name.
First read my post on Google Places descriptors. Descriptors carry some risks. You can't just do whatever you want.
Then see if you can think of a descriptor 1-3 words long. It should help searchers make a choice without needing to click through to your Google page or site.
For example, if you're John Doe, Esq. and you specialize in divorce, maybe your local Google+ business name should read “John Doe, Esq. - Divorce Attorney.” That will help encourage the right people to click. It will also deter people who wouldn't become clients anyway. You attract to the degree you repel.
#3 - Create a classy cover photo.
Notice I said “create.” Don't just buy a lame stock photo and call it a day. If you use a stock photo, at least add your branding or logo to it, and maybe tile other photos onto it.
And notice I said “classy.” Your photo doesn't need to be flashy. See the above examples.
The best approach is to pay a pro to help you design a mighty fine photo. Even if you take the photo(s) yourself, it's smart to get a designer to add some polish.
#4 - Work your description.
Include a couple links to subpages on your site. Mix up the formatting - like with bullet points.
But don't overdo it. Don't make the description too long, or it will push your reviews far down the page.
Don't stuff it with keywords. It won't help your ranking, but it might get your page penalized. The description should read naturally.
Oh, and take it easy on the anchor text: don't have your links read, “implant dentists Las Vegas” and “cosmetic dentists Las Vegas.”
#5 - Include a bilingual description.
This can be helpful if anyone in your company is multilingual. Or maybe there's something you really want to tell potential customers in a language other than English.
#6 - Add a unique special offer to your description.
Create a page on your site specifically for that offer, and put a coupon (or whatever your offer is) on that page.
The benefit of this is you'll be able to go into Google Analytics (not to mention CrazyEgg) and learn more about how your visitors behave on your page. This is one way to track at least some of the leads you get from your Google+ Local page - which has long been a frustration for anyone who knows what “local SEO” means.
#7 - Consider adding your address (and phone number) to your description.
If your address is “hidden” just because of Google's rules, but you want customers to know your address, you might want to add your address (and phone number) to your description.
#8 - Get a Google Business View photo shoot.
I've written about the benefits of this.
You don't need to be in a sexy industry (although if you are, it's a no-brainer). People want to see what your place is like before setting foot in it.
You can get even more mileage out of the photo shoot if you embed it on your site.
(It's a minor hassle to grab the right code, so just let me know in the comments if you have questions about how to pull it off.)
#9 - Get at least 5 Google+ reviews.
That's how you'll get those golden stars next to your listing in the search results.
#10 - Get enough Google reviews that you get the “People talk about” snippets.
How many is enough? Not necessarily more than a handful.
On the other hand, you'll probably get more snippets if you have more reviews.
#11 - Encourage reviewers to upload profile photos.
Reviews without profile photos just aren't "pimp". If the customers who reviewed you don't have a profile photo ask them to add one. It adds a nice human touch.
Also, I wouldn't be surprised if a review is less likely to get filtered if the reviewer has a profile photo. Total conjecture on my part.
#12 - Embed your Google+ reviews on your website.
Fine, I guess technically this isn't a way to pimp your Google page. But it is a way to leverage the Google+ reviews on it.
(I suggest reading this good thread on Linda Buquet's forum.)
By the way, I do mean “embed” your reviews; don't just copy and paste them. That's against Google's review guidelines.
#13 - Reply to your reviews - the good, the bad, and the lukewarm.
#14 - Feature some of your Google+ reviews in your “Posts” stream.
Yes, you can do that.
To do this, sign into the Google account you use to manage your local page, find the review (in your “About” tab), and click the “share” arrow.
#15 - Get reviews on sites besides Google+ and Yelp.
In many cases 3 of those sites will be mentioned on your Google page.
Up to 4 of them will show up in the knowledge graph that people see when they search for your business by name.
It's also a great barnacle local SEO technique.
#16 - Mark up customers' testimonials with Schema and feature them on your site.
They'll show up in the knowledge graph and under the “Reviews from around the web” area of your page.
(Here's the page where you can see the testimonials in the above example.)
By the way, the testimonials need to be unique. Don't just copy and paste your reviews - or snippets of them. Although...you can take filtered Yelp reviews and repurpose them as testimonials on your site.
17. Add a bunch of your customers and other people you know to your “circles.”
Some will add you back. And they'll all be noticeable on your page (under the “posts” tab).
#18 - Do at least a couple of short Google+ posts every week.
Check out the Google page of Dr. J. Ryan Fuller in New York if you'd like to see an example of good Google+ posts and “social” interaction done right.
By the way, include photos in your posts as often as possible. They'll make your page nicer to look at, and they'll stick out in your knowledge graph. (Check out this post by Mike Blumenthal to see what I mean.)
#19 - Encourage customers (and other readers) to leave comments on your Google+ posts.
I'd say the best way to do this is simply to ask a question in each of your posts. You probably won't get many people who comment, but so what.
#20 - Upload a profile photo.
Ideally it's a picture of a person or of a small group of people in your company. Goofy is usually good - like the business owner in a costume.
Whatever you do, make sure the photo would look good if it shows up in the local carousel. (Do so for your other photos, too - see next suggestion).
#21 - Upload photos. Lots of photos.
Try to tell a story with your photos. Use them as a tour of your business. Or use them to show the problem that you can help solve, plus your solution.
Show award badges and other distinctions you've earned (like the Angie's List Super Service Award).
Consider using animated GIFs in small, tasteful quantities.
#22 - Upload videos.
If you don't have videos and don't feel like making any, remove the “Videos” or YouTube tab from showing on your page. Funnel that attention to your other tabs.
So, roll up your sleeves and get started on pimping out your local Google+ page. The sooner you do, the sooner you'll be feeling like this:
About the Guy Who Wrote This
What's in your bag of tricks?
How pimped-out is your Google page? Show us your grill.
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