Google+ is changing for Local Search
Will you be ready?
The only thing we know for certain in an uncertain world is that change is inevitable and this is never more true for anyone working with Google products and services. It is a well worn path trying to predict what the search giant will do next and one that is littered with the careers of SEO specialists. Lots of people will claim to be a local SEO expert. However having being working with Google closely over the past few years I am occasionally given some insight and tips.
The Google My Business listing for businesses is a free product that whilst essential for most, is riven with misunderstanding, confusion and downright cynicism and unsurprisingly people often ignore what they don’t understand.
Equally the Google+ listing goes through frequent changes and it seems even Google doesn’t quite know what to do with it and ‘tinkers’ with features, the way people can interact with it and how it contributes to your online presence.
However there are many things that a business owner can and must do in order to benefit from this local search gift from Google. A list of the most important would look like :-
- Verify ownership
- Upgrade to G+ listing
- Add cover and profile photos
- Add a virtual tour
- Post regularly
- Get customer reviews
Now the first in the list now looks set to have become urgent if you want your business to be found in local searches and thats because I understand that there is a real possibility that all unverified listings will start being removed from Google after the 1st July 2015.
A quick search for a clothing shop in Staffordshire brings back the following results.
In this list of 7 shops there is a combination of businesses with varying degrees of G+ activity and I have worked with one or two here. What surprises me is that there are businesses that today appear in the list but from 1st July May simply disappear because the owner has not registered and verified their ownership of the business. I won’t tell you which is which but one that paid me for a Google Business View tour last year is unverified and looks set to be deleted unless action is taken soon.
Local searches are becoming very important particularly with the growth in mobile searches. Prospective customers are checking you out and looking for information quickly and easily whilst out and about. A majority of these will take some form of action with a business they find in search such as visit the shop, call the shop, seek directions or check out the website.
Verification is very simple and in most cases can be done with an automated telephone call in a couple of minutes. For very new businesses this might need a postcard to be sent from Google and that takes about 7-10 days. However anyone working with us to get a Google Business View 360º virtual tour can access a much faster and easier verification process and I arrange that as a free service.
So whichever route you take please verify your local business now and don’t lose potential customers. There are many more changes being introduced in coming weeks and months. Some of them are announced many are not and are introduced silently. I track these changes and keep up to date with how these changes will affect my clients.
If you need any advice on verification, getting found in local search, finding and keeping more customers or would just like a virtual tour please don’t hesitate to get in touch.