Thursday, April 17, 2014

5 Google+ Tips to Help Local Businesses Thrive Online

Being a local business has a lot of perks, while carving out an online niche may not be one of the first to pop into your mind, maybe it should. Social networks, especially Google+ are filled with potential customers looking for local businesses to interact with. Consider the following 5 tips for thriving as a local business on Google+.

1.    Think About Your Customers
Yes, the current online trend is to optimize listings and websites for search engines. This is important, without SEO, it’s hard for customers to stand a shot at finding you, and organic searches are less likely to pan out in your favor. 

However, in this piece, we’re talking about Google+, not the Internet at large. Because of this, it’s important to optimize your site for your customers—the people you’re hoping come across your listing and take the time to look into what you have to offer. Use natural language and focus on what your business has to offer. Engage, share new content regularly and work to build connections. This is what really matters.

2.    Customize
One thing is for sure, the more personal you can be, the more appealing your brand will look online. Take the time to customize your Google+ local page to differentiate your company from your primary competitors with great photos and a fully filled-out profile. Think about it, what makes one Amish furniture store in Smithville, Ohio stand out from another? What does one running shoe store in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania have that another does not? Customization can go a long way.

Consider using banner ads, photos and videos that give an idea of what your brand is all about, tailor your content toward your local community and promote relevant information. Customization matters for local businesses looking to get ahead online.

3.    Don’t Waste Your Time
This should go without saying, but, if your target market doesn’t spend their time on Google+, all of the tips in the world will not help you grow your business on the network. Just do the minimum required to make your listing look good and move on.

Do a little research. Find out where your customers spend their time online. For example, if you’re looking to connect with crafty stay at home moms, Pinterest might be more appropriate. It all depends on what you have to offer, and who is a part of your target demographic. Know this before placing a strong effort on Google+ or any other social network, but, remember, Google+ can influence search results, so do not discount it; use your research to determine how much time the network deserves on your end.

4.    Keep Up With Your Listing
Like all other social networks, or most of them at least, a successful Google+ account is dependent upon commitment. If you’re not willing to put time into updating your content and modifying your listings, it might be better not to create an account in the first place. 

Take the time to update your listings on a regular basis and to monitor that listing’s performance to determine whether your efforts are paying off or not. If a listing has a high page rank, let it be; there’s no reason to mess with a good thing. In either case, keep up with your account, this is critical.

5.    Use Reviews to Your Advantage
Customers, especially local customers, tend to rely upon online reviews when choosing new businesses to work with. This is where your Google+ account can really work to your advantage; these reviews are also helpful for improving your search rankings.

Take the time to request reviews from your customers, in person and through an email marketing campaign. Thank those who take the time to recognize your business; they’re doing more of a service to you than they’re probably aware of.

Whatever you do, Google+ can play a major role in increasing your online presence, especially if you’re a local business. Get started by taking full advantage of the network and following the tips above.

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