Google+ Local Bible for Small Business

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Guillaume Bouchard has written a must-read article in Search Engine Watch if you’re a small business owner. He is the co-founder and president of NVI, a Montreal-based company specialized in interactive strategies. Founded in 2004, NVI has quickly become the largest web agency specializing in SEO and Social Media in Canada with over 50 employees.

Here’s what he has to say:

If you’re a small local business, having a Google+ Local profile is imperative to putting your brand – quite literally – on the map. Google Places was recently replaced with Google+ Local – a merging of Places and Plus that serves up your Google+ Local listing in Search and Maps results on mobile devices and traditional browsers. Whereas Places was a static listing, Local is dynamic and social.

A well-optimized Google+ Local page can benefit your digital marketing strategy in the following ways:

Outrank your competitors in local search.
Build the authority of your brand through +1’s and user reviews.
Drive traffic to your website.
Convert more visitors into leads and clientele.

Quick stats about local mobile use:

* 50 percent of mobile search is local.
* 61 percent of local searches result in purchases.
* 50 percent of smartphone shoppers use a GPS/mapping app to find a retail location.
* Only 33 percent of advertisers have a mobile optimized website.

With more than 1 billion smartphone users around the world, a number expected to reach 2 billion by 2015, it’s no surprise that mobile search is quickly becoming the number one way users search. And, when people search with their smartphones, they’re looking for something local.

How do you unlock the full potential of +Local? Follow these six steps to learn the dance.

Local Businesses are Leaving Money on the Table

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Matt Malone just posted a great article on Local Search. If you have a brick and mortar business, you’ll absolutely want to take advantage of his free DIY (that’s “Do It Yourself” in Internet parlance) tips:

Read the full article here.

90% of online commercial searches result in offline brick and mortar purchases.

This type of research makes it clear that many businesses have substituted the Internet and local search for phone books and most print advertising.

There are many different tactics you can implement to capture the attention of potential customers, but step one is increasing online visibility. Thanks to services such as Google+ Business, Bing Local and Yelp, this has become extremely easy to do. Just be sure to do it right.

Many business owners have local listings, but are doing it wrong. Simply typing in your business name and seeing your listing isn’t enough. Be sure to “claim” your listing so that you can complete your profile and business information in full. This includes pictures and videos of your establishment, types of payment accepted and even whether or not you have paid or free parking available. You can read about this and more on Google’s User Guide.

The entire process of claiming or creating your online business listing should take you under an hour. Start with setting up (or claiming) your business listing in all of the directories listed below.

Pro Tip: It’s very important for you, as the business owner, to claim the business listing before a disgruntled employee or unhappy customer does it and bashes the company within your own profile. I have seen this happen, and even though it’s reversible, it’s a headache for the business owner to deal with.

TOP FIVE LOCAL DIRECTORIES TO GET STARTED WITH:
Google+ Business: http://www.google.com/+/business/
Bing Local: http://www.bing.com/local/us/
Yelp: http://www.biz.yelp.com/
Hotfrog: http://www.hotfrog.com
Manta: http://www.manta.com

These are the highest-ranking directories for Google and Bing local searches. Maximize your search engine real estate and claim all of them. Then be sure to read through your reviews on a weekly or monthly basis to ensure you respond to any positive or negative comments you receive. An attentive, caring company will almost always be an equally respected company.