In this third post on Google+ I’m going to:
- Reveal the benefits of a Google+ page for your small business
- Explain how this links with Google+ Local and local search
- Provide you with a five-step guide for getting started.
The benefits of a Google+ page
At first glance, it may feel that setting up a Google+ page means more work and more content. And whilst that’s true, the benefits could make the effort worthwhile for your business. Here are three reasons why:
Engage with your customers and audience:
Google+ pages have inbuilt social features (just like your personal Google+ profile). It means you can create and share content to engage your customers in conversation around your business.
Build your brand profile:
Unlike a Google+ profile, which is all about you, a Google+ page allows you to talk through your business as a separate entity. In addition, if your business page is a Google+ Local page, customers will be able to post reviews and rate you on a scale of one to five – perfect for collecting highly visible testimonials for your business.
Earn SEO benefits:
Lots of business owners don’t realise their Google+ page listing is a search result. And just like your Google+ profile, smart on-site SEO optimisation means your Google+ page can be quickly indexed and found – ideal if you want to score well in the organic rankings.
- SEO title: This is derived from your page name followed by Google+
- Metadescription: This is taken from your page name PLUS tagline PLUS the initial part of your profile
- Dofollow links: Your introduction and other links section are dofollow links that can attract link equity (although your official linked website is set as nofollow).
Do I really need a Google+ profile AND a Google+ Page?
Great question. In my opinion the answer depends on the nature of your business and your online strategy.
Google+ profiles are for people. You can’t collect reviews BUT its link with Google authorship will help build your authority. Therefore if you and your business are indistinguishable, (and you lack the time and energy to create content for both) you could argue you have no need for a separate business page.
If you want to promote your business as separate entity OR you’re keen to collect reviews or benefit from local search, you’ll want to set up a Google+ page too.
How can my Google+ page help with local search?
(And how’s this different from Google Places and Google+ Local?)
This is where it gets interesting (and more confusing!) The launch of Google+ just last year, and the ongoing process of integrating Google services into one dashboard, means existing services still have relevance – one of those being Google places.
Google defines Google Places as “a central location where you can review, edit and add business listings”. In essence it’s your business listing. Prior to Google+ being rolled out, Google Places was the method by which businesses could get a listing on Google Maps – an invaluable tool to help you feature on page one for local search terms.
Google Places has gone all social
The arrival of Google+ has allowed businesses to set up Google+ Local pages. These are simply Google+ pages that have been classified under the category of Local Business or Place. These pages integrate the listing functionality of Google Places with the social functionality of Google+. It means that businesses with a specific geographical location can create a page that’s optimised for local search, appears on Google Maps, collects reviews AND shares content to encourage customer engagement
Google+ Local has replaced Google Places.
New users can just create a Google+ Local page, whilst businesses who have an unverified Google Places profile can verify, it to automatically add Google+ social features (simply enter a pin contained on a verification postcode that Google send to you). It means you’ll spot two types of Google+ local listings for now:
- Google+ Local pages and verified Places listings have four tabs
- Unverified listings have just two tabs
And whilst both can collect customer reviews, only the Google+ Page contains the social features.
So what profiles do you need for your business?
In this post I’ve talked about Google+ profiles and pages as well as Google+ Local and Google Places.
So what do you really need to benefit your small business? Here are my conclusions.
Google+ Profile: Perfect if you are your business and you want to grow your individual authority through Google authorship.
Google+ Page: Essential if you want to promote your business as a separate entity (although you’ll need to commit to a content strategy as an empty page looks unloved and will undermine your brand). In addition, if your business operates from a physical location, you’ll want a Google+ Local page (you’ll get one if you categorise your Google+ page as a Local Business or Place).
Google Places: Not necessary if you’ve set-up your Google+ Page in the Local Business & Place category as this will automatically connect up with local search and create a Google+ Local Page. But if you’ve got an old Places account that you haven’t yet verified, it’s probably worth doing this – especially because Google is starting to upgrade Places listings to add the social functionality associated with Google+ pages.
Google+ Local page: Google+ local is Google’s local search initiative that’s designed to help users discover and share places. For geographically based businesses it’s really important to have a presence here. To do that you need a Google Places listing OR set-up a Google+ page that’s categorised as a Local Business or Place.
So now we’ve discussed the various options, here’s how to get started with a Google+ page.
How to set up your Google+ page in five easy steps
- First ensure you have a Google+ profile, as your page will link to this.
- Create a page: This starts by selecting from one of the following categories:
- Local business or place (becomes a Google+ Local page)
- Product or brand
- Company, institution or organisation
- Arts, entertainment or sport
- Other (for everything else)
You’ll want to give your choice some thought, as the subsequent options for customisation will vary depending on your category. Most importantly, if your page is for a business with a physical location, it’s really important you select the “local business or place” option as this will allow you to claim a physical space, get found on Google Maps and appear in local search.
- Add the basics: Now you can start to claim for page your public profile. Choose a name for your page and link it to your website. Next consider if your page has any age appropriate content and finally read and confirm you’ve agreed to Google’s T&Cs.
- Customise: Now move onto customise your page. You can introduce your page and add a ten-word tagline. These fields are important, as they will form the meta-description for your page in the SERPs. You can also change your cover picture (which is HUGE) and add a profile image. You can also add in contact information so customers can get in touch as well as adding links to pages that interest you as well as your other social networks.
- Add content: This is the fun bit! Just as with a Google+ profile you need to have a think about your content strategy to build your audience and initiate conversation and engagement. You can share thoughts, photos and videos as well as sharing links to other interesting content you’ve discovered. You can also determine who to share content with (remember Google’s circles allow you to segment your audience) meaning you could make your posts highly targeted to specific sections of your audience.
How will you use the Google+ page functionality for your business?
What features have you signed up for and benefiting from? What questions do you have about Google+ pages? Please let me know in the comments below…