According to the latest study conducted by BIA/Kelsey and ConStat, a whopping 97% of consumers are going online to search for products and services in their areas. For local businesses, these types of searches are the most important because they often result in a quick conversion, either with phone call or a visit to their physical store.
So how do local searches work in Google?
Google remains the top “go-to” search portal where consumers turn to find local businesses. To do a local search in Google, the consumer either adds a specific location to their search parameter (New York City, say), or Google will do it for her by returning search results based on her GPS coordinates. Search Engine Watch’s Linkdex recently report that 69% of the time, search results are significantly affected by the searcher’s geolocation, so if your business hasn’t claimed its Google+ page then you might be at a disadvantage.
Google Places is now Google+ Local
If you’ve been trying to make your site more visible through SEO and online marketing tactics for a while, you may remember listing your business in what was used to be called Google Places. In early 2012, Google Places was replaced by Google+ Local, along with the conversion of some 80 million Google Places page to Google+ Local pages. With this change, what use to be a static “Place” page morphed to a more dynamic Google+ Local page, integrating more seamlessly with other Google products.
Google+ Local/Place Page vs Google+ Business Page
There are currently two types of pages for businesses in Google+ — the Google+ Local (Place) page and the Google+ Business page. Yeah, it’s a little confusing, but here’s how to distinguish based on their features:
The Google+ Local Place Pages are pages that have tabs across the top for About and Photos, and if you haven’t yet claimed it you’ll see a little text and button that asks you “Is this your business?” and allows you to “Manage This Page.” See the screenshot below for an example of an unclaimed, un-optimized G+ Local page (ours, in fact). If you scroll you’ll see any scores and reviews for the business.
Local listings that appear in Google Maps and Google Search results will go to this page when you click on the “More Info” link (see screenshot below).
The Google+ Business Pages are pages created by business owners in Google+, allowing them to post news and updates about their businesses, Facebook-like. There are About, Photo and Videos tabs but no option for visitors to leave reviews.
The Business Page also incorporates all of the social features available to Google+ users: hangouts, sharing to circles, video uploads, etc. If your Google+ Business Page is in the local category, you will be able to merge it with your Google Place page.
Why Claim Your Place?
If your business has a physical location, then having a Google Place page can really help get you in front of an audience that is specifically searching for your products/services, and is generally ready to make a purchase. Claiming your Gooogle Place page and optimizing it can also help potential clients:
- find your contact information faster;
- quickly find directions to get to your location;
- view your products and locations through images; and
- learn what others have to say about your business.