To sum it up from the start, the changes will likely provide local businesses with the ability to merge aspects of their search optimization and social media strategies into a unified approach via Google+, the company’s new social network.
The new opportunities presented by the revamp will undoubtedly deliver unprecedented search visibility for the products and services of proactive local businesses over time. Their success will be dictated by two basic needs: generating buzz about their offerings on Google+, and creating an effective business page on the site.
Lay of the Land
According to the company, Google’s new ‘Search Plus Your World’ offering “transforms Google into a search engine that understands not only content, but also people and relationships” through three basic ways:
- Further personalizing results: users are now able to find personalized information – including Google+ photos and posts from themselves and their friends – within their basic Google.com search results. Additionally, they can tab out personalized results featuring content from those they’re connected to on Google+.
- Raising profile visibility: users can immediately find people they’re close to or might be interested in following in Google+, both in autocomplete and results
- Raising people and pages’ visibility: users can find Google+ profiles and pages related to specific topics or areas of interest via basic search, and follow them instantly
Relevancy To Local Businesses
More personalized results will enable local businesses to more easily get found by users searching for keywords related to their products and services.
For example, a hungry user searching “hamburger” in their Google search could come across a post from one of their Google+ friends talking about the great meal they just had at [your] local diner.
Not only will the post get your diner’s name right in front of the hunger user – showing up right within top search results on the page – it will have added value because it came from their friend, whose recommendation they most likely trust. And right there, you could very easily have a new customer.
Raised visibility for Google+ profiles and pages via Google search could also help your local business attract new customers.
As the above example shows, users searching for simple topics like “shopping” are presented with recommendations on pages to follow in a “People and Pages on Google+” section. And as we know, once a Google+ page is followed, each time a user searches for something related to or mentioned on that page, it will receive increased visibility with the user.
It will be interesting to see how this feature builds over time. For example, I wonder if a traveling user searching “Bed & Breakfast + [location of your B&B]” will one day see your B&B’s page appear in that section. It seems that placement will be based on how prominently your page ranks in terms of followers with other pages reached by the same keywords.
What You Can Do Now
The full impact of Google’s new search offering and its heavy reliance on Google+, which itself is still in its infancy, is not yet clear. But what you can bet on is that your local business will significantly benefit from high visibility on Google+. Actions you can take now to stay ahead of the competition include:
- Create a Google+ business page. It’s simple, free, and a no-brainer.
- Incorporate your business’s Google+ page into its online presence – including its website, blog and other social media channels – as well as its advertising and offline materials.
- Similar to your business’s approach with other social media channels like Facebook and Twitter, encourage customers to follow your Google+ page for special announcements and deals.
- Update your business’s Google+ page constantly with new information, whether its links to articles relevant to your business or photos of new products, not only to keep your page relevant with customers but also to increase the number of keywords that users can search and reach you through. For example, had Domino’s Pizza not posted about its stuffed cheesy bread offering, the hungry user may not have seen it when they searched and ordered from someplace else. And obviously the newer the post, the better visibility it will receive.
Most importantly, keep your eye out regularly for additional recommendations on what your business can and should be doing to leverage Google’s new search tools. This will surely be an evolving topic that will affect how customers find you.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.