Social Media Marketing

An In-depth Article: Why Google+ is Great for Local Businesses

Learn the full breath on the different features and tools Google+ has that will help your Local Business succeed. 

An in-depth article: why Google+is great for local businesses

by Carlo Barbosa

ESTIMATED READING TIME:  12.68 Minutes

When local businesses talks about Google+, it’s often ignored as just another Facebook. A ghost town and another untested avenue that may not bear fruits as many small local businesses experienced with other social networks.

Well who could blame them?

In a study conducted by Manta last April 2013, It surveyed more than 1200 small business owners and asked if they’ve seen any  return on their investment from their social media activities. The results were truly underwhelming.

69% of small business owners surveyed said that they didn’t see any ROI from their social media activities and of the remaining 31% that did see any returns, only 30% generated ROI of more than $2,000.

I won’t dare speculate that what they’re doing are wrong.

From my own experience, small business owners often talk more sense than “experts” I’ve encountered in the past. The internet has an abundance of resources about social media that practically anyone has the  capability to  learn what’s right from wrong regarding how they should handle their social media campaigns.

My take on this is simple.

The reason why most small local businesses fail in converting their social media activity to hard cold cash or even build awareness to say the least, is that most of their ideal customers won’t even bother searching for them in Facebook or Twitter much more letting them in their social lives.

They simply ask Google…”Where’s the nearest plumber?”

If your local businesses rely heavily on search engine like Google to get more leads  back to your website either through organic (Free) or by Adwords (Paid). Then Google+ may prove more valuable than Facebook or Twitter.

To top it off, from a local customers standpoint, a review from yelp or Google has far more social proof than a superficial like on a Facebook Page or a seemingly huge following from Twitter. Likes and followers count by todays standard can no longer be a reliable measure of social proof since you can get those by a pennies worth.

Google+ isn’t just another social media site created to compete with the giants such as Facebook. It was mainly created  to tie in all of its products and services (Search, Gmail, Android, YouTube, Google Maps, etc) to provide its users a far richer experience in using their products.

Treating it as just another “Facebook” is no longer a proper description due to its heavy integration and influence with all of its services. In fact, it  already became synonymous with Google itself. As long as your ideal customers, their friends and family are using any of Google’s products and services. Their decision will be affected by whatever information you put on Google+.

So first of all, what’s really in it for your Local Business?

 

  1. Google+ helps your Local Business be seen by the right people at the right time.

 

There is no denying that in order to have a sustained flow of visitors to your site you need to do Search Engine Optimization (SEO). But ever since Google made it clear that the time to game the system has already ended, many are wondering what’s the safest way in order to get that most coveted keyword your ideal customer will type on their search box.

So here comes Google+.

Well, what’s most interesting about Google+ Is its ability to influence the results it retrieved when users goggled it. In a 2013 study by Eric Enge of Stone Temple Consulting, He found out that  Google+ impact search results in several unique ways.

  •  People who follow you are more likely to see your business in their search results.
  • People who follow ANYONE who +1’s your post are more likely to see your business in their search results.
  • People you exchange Gmail’s with (probably your past or potential customers)  are  more likely to see your business in the search results. Note: This part is still largely debatable but there have been some studies made suggesting a correlation.

David Amerland, best-selling author for his book on Google Semantic Search, said that having an active presence in Google+ is probably the quickest and safest way any company can rank their websites after the Penguin, Panda and Hummingbird update.

If that isn’t enough for you to believe me. Larry Page, Google co-founder and CEO, said it himself “If you ignore Google+, Google Search will ignore you.”

 

2. Having an active presence in Google+ makes you and your business stand out to Local Searchers.

 

Google+ per se is like your high schools ID and report card merge into one. Like it or not, whenever your customer is searching for you (your business), they’ll see your grades whether it’s good or bad.

Here’s the thing when your marketing through the internet. You can’t convince your customers to buy from you. What you can only do is provide enough information so that they’ll convince themselves. So you might as well try to do the extra effort to make your business shine.

 These are the key features that you really need to know about.

  •  Google My Business

Just recently Google launch “Google my Business“. Their new unified dashboard that combine their full suite of services to help overwhelmed entrepreneurs in managing their online presence.

This is basically just an all-in-one tool that replaces the previous Google Places for Business, Google+ Local, and Google+ Business.

 If you already have an existing Google Places or Google+ Local Pages, it will be automatically upgraded to a Google My Business account.

What you can do with this new tool?

  • Easily update and manage your business information on-the-go using their Android  and IOS app.
  • Read and respond to reviews found not only in Google+ but also “Reviews from around the Web”
  • Share with current or potential customers important news regarding your business through Google+.
  • Monitor engagement for your Google+ post and other various information using Insight.
  • Convenient tool to add new photos and virtual tour to help your business stand out to your competitors.
  • Provide quick access to AdWords Express and Google Analytics.

OTHER POST YOU MIGHT BE INTERESTED: Tips and trick for small businesses in winning mobile.

  • rel=”author” (Google Authorship)

If your local business already have a blog in placed (or I hope you’re at least considering it) to keep your customers from leaving your site and keep them intrigue to continue viewing other pages like your products or services. Then the Authorship mark-up is perfect for you.

What Google Authorship basically do is it link the content you’ve written to your personal Google+ profile providing credit to your work and  provide a probable protection against plagiarism.

Google Authorship as seen in SERP

 There are already countless studies made proving that strong first impression is crucial when landing a new customer and a good photo surprisingly does that. According to a case study conducted by Search Marketing Agency Catalyst, the number of Click-Through Rate (the percentage of people visiting a web page who access a hypertext link) increased by 150% after the authorship mark-up was added. Amazing right!

 Other benefits are:

  • Provide more opportunity to get more followers in Google+.
  • Allow an easy way for readers (potential customers) to engage with you through your Google+ profile.
  • Easily measure how well your content is doing. Just go  to google.com/webmasters and login with your Google+ username. Then just click the “Labs” at the left hand panel of your dashboard and then click “Author Stat”.

 NOTE:  By the time this post was publish, Google decided to remove the Photo and the number of followers in the search result page in order to provide a cleaner looking design to mobile searchers. 

Anyway, I decided not to edit this section just for the glory of it since I’ll never know if Google will decide to bring it back. Plus, according to Mark Traphagen, your photo will still appear on the Search Engine Result Page (SERP) of your followers. 

Also, don’t come to the conclusion that authorship is no longer needed because it’s still an integral part of your SEO. You still have the other benefits right?

  • rel=”publisher” (Google Publisher)

Now don’t be confused by its name.  It’s not only meant for newspaper or magazines but for Local  Businesses as well. It’s basically similar to Authorship but instead of  linking your content to your personal profile it link your website (most of the time from your homepage) to your Google+ Local Page.

Doing this verify your brand with Google and Google Users since just about anybody can create a similar page impersonating your business online. I guess you want that to happen right?

It also displays your logo, your most recent post, and other relevant business information. This is really beneficial most especially when your customers are already further in the buying process evaluating their choices, looking for reviews and testimonials, and comparing prices with your competitors.Google Publisher as seen in the SERP

  •  Google+ Reviews

I’m quite sure you know why reviews are important for your businesses. Basically more reviews equals more customers but why focus on getting reviews in Google+ and not pile it up in your own website.

Well it all comes down to trust. Nowadays, consumers are so well-informed that they can smell BS miles away. They rather trust reviews and testimonials coming from third-party websites than be bamboozled by  sweet bogus reviews found in most business website.

Good Google+ reviews not only help you converts your leads at the same time help your SEO rankings. Simply put if you don’t have reviews and your competitors does, of course Google will rank them higher since showing the “best” business first will improve their user satisfaction. For instance Google Maps is already saying it outright that the “highest-rated Businesses near you” will be retrieved whenever you’re searching locally or through mobile.

  •  Google Business View (Virtual Tour)

“See Inside” what a way to invite your customers to explore what you have to offer and put your business on the map.  Now Google is offering the power of its Street View Technology to give businesses a complete 360° panoramic view of your business establishment to let your customers experience what you have to offer before leaving the comfort of their chair.

Business View appears whenever a customer directly Googled your business name  as well as in Google Maps and Google+ Local Pages. You can also Link and embed it in your  website attracting potential customers who visit your site.

Many businesses are already adopting this technology like Hotels and restaurant, Real Estate companies, boutiques and department store to stand out against their competitions and enhance their local online presence.

The price usually varies depending on  the Google Certified Trusted Photographer you commissioned but would typically range from $300 – $1500 so contact them now here.

 

 

 3. Google +’s Hangout   and Hangout on Air (HOA) can be an effective tool in Content Creation , creating Brand Awareness and customer service.

Hangout on Air (HOA) is basically Skype on steroids. It’s a free a video conferencing platform offered by Google where you can host live conversations with friends, colleagues, or even customers then broadcast via your Google+ profile page or your YouTube channel or embedded those videos directly to your website offering more value to your customers for future use.

Some companies are already innovating with using Hangout and HOA by using it as an extension of their customer service program offering valuable information about their products and its proper usage and a way for them to immediately handle customer complaints. Now with the release of the “Google my Business App”  handling certain issues can now be done via Hangout.

Another idea I’ve come up with is to invite local influencers, or  a fellow local entrepreneur and do a HOA together. Talk about your community. What does it need most? What are its problems? How can your businesses help solve those issues? Find out how you can make what you are trying to sell relevant to your community as it shows that your willing to give up time on something bigger than you business.

Why?

Simply because the best way to succeed in your local businesses is first to succeed in winning the hearts of your community.

Oh before I forget…

Try making a video transcription of your HOA adding in some of your target keywords as this would provide more content for your site and improve your website SEO. Content is king!

 

4. It’s a great alternative to Facebook since fewer people are now seeing your post.

Since its IPO in 2012, Facebook has now gradually been decreasing every pages reach and pushing you to advertise instead. More and more of your fans are no longer seeing your post in their news feeds and according to a Time magazine article Facebook is eventually planning to reduce your page’s reach down to 1% to 2% of your total fans. To add salt to the wound, your fans might not be real at all as exposed by this documentary by Veritasium. Yikes! If that isn’t enough for you to set up a plan B or C. I don’t know what is.

If Facebook works for you and your bottom line, I guess there’s no harm spending a few hundreds dollars or thousand if your willing to take that risk in promoted post but it would be a huge mistake to put all your eggs in one basket. Try to diversify your marketing mix in order to get higher returns.

I’ve just read this really funny break up letter by Eat24 to Facebook which I think perfectly encapsulate how most businesses are now feeling towards Facebook’s latest  changes. If you do have time, try reading it and also what happened after they took down their Facebook page. It’s so funny because it’s the truth.

 

5. Recent Studies shows aside from YouTube,  Google+ boast the best visitors to visit a website.

You read that right, Google+ boast the best visitors to visit a website  aside from YouTube.

This isn’t really a surprise to me since Google+ isn’t used to catch up with your friends or stalk your ex.

It’s for you to explore your interest, hobbies and connect with people who share your passion or network with your industry peers. It’s more like a marriage between Pinterest and LinkedIn.

So people are generally  interested in learning what their circle shared and interact with their peers in various communities.

This study was conducted by Shareaholic last September 2013 – February 2014 where they surprisingly collected data from over 200,000 websites with a reach of more than 250 million unique visitors each month and found out that aside from YouTube, Google+ users are the best visitors to visit a website based on 3 key areas:

  • Visit Duration – How long do they stay viewing your website.
  • Pages per visit an – Do they browse other important pages like products or services.
  • Bounce Rate – Percentage of visitors who immediately leave your website without viewing other pages.

It turn’s out that Google+ users on average, spend more than 3 mins in the site their circles shared, visited 2.45 pages and a bounce rate of 50.63% which is slightly higher than Facebook users who spend only about 2.12 mins on each page. Browsed an average of 2 pages per visit with a bounce rate of 56.35%.

 

Final thought:

Ok now, What I’m trying  to do is not convince you that this is your silver bullet. I also don’t know if you’ll regret it later. Google+ like Facebook and all other internet marketing technique you’ve might tried so far is but merely a tool. How you use it will determine whether it’ll be effective or not.

“if you do what you always did, you will get what you always got”

So don’t be afraid and try it out, since finding success isn’t always easy.

 

Make my day and tell me what you think! 

If  ever the post helps you clarify thing regarding the topic it would mean the world to me if you share it to your friends, family, and colleagues who would also be interested. Thank you and God Bless!

 

 

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