What is Google Local? And how to set up a Page!

 

Google LocalIn 2012 ‘Google Places’ changed it’s name to ‘Google Local’.

If you are a local business with a physical location then this part is something you will want to set up.
In essence, it is a Google Plus Page and has the ability for people to give you local reviews as well.
They are very simple to create and this article is intended to support you in the process.

 

What is the benefit of having a listing?

Put simply, more of your customers and potential customers will be able to find you.
Check out this video for a quick overview of how it works in an interview with Simply Business.

Weird facial, expression, huh? Well, the content is good though!
In the view I mention ‘paid ads’ – check out the Google Express video below for more on that.
And note that with ‘reviews’ you will be able to show how great your products and services are, especially compared to the competition.

Hold on, do you already have a listing?

You may well find you are already ‘on the map’ as Google Places has been around for quite a while. As such, Kamal Tailor suggests that if you have a physical location then secure the listing by going to here first:  google.com/lbc before you set up your Page.
You will know if you are on the map when you see a listing, with a pin – just like the image below.

Screen Shot 2013-04-29 at 09.47.16

How to create a Google Local Page

It is probably worth untangling something that could cause of confusion…
Google says there are “currently…two types of pages on Google for a single business. These pages will either be similar to a Place page with scores and reviews [Google Local], or they will be Google+ pages with social features [A Google+ ‘Page’]. You can distinguish the pages by the features available.”
We are talking here about the ‘Google Local’ type of Page as, well, you have the ability of being ‘pinned’ on a map – this way people can find you more easily. If you want to know more about the more ‘social’ aspects then check out a complete article HERE.

How do you set up a Page?

Search for yourself on Google and see if your listing comes up.
Then, if you click it, and you haven’t claimed it already, you will be able to ‘claim this Page’.
But if this is not the case, don’t worry as here is a video on how to create a Google Brand Page – for a Google Local Page listing simply choose the ‘Local Business or Place’ category.
From there you will be asked for your phone number and that should find your physical location. That will set it up.

Here is the full post again about how to set up a Google Page – with tips on free promotion as well: HERE

Sometimes things don’t quite go to plan, so here are some tips to cover that eventuality…

Are you a business who is having trouble getting on the map?

Here is something that took me a while to discover (thanks to Google+ Help):
If you have problems with verification of a physical location then start here Google Business Verification Help and then look at Google Plus and Your Business to find out more information.
You may find you have to resubmit a ‘Google Places’ form, which happens to have more category options, upload photos and videos etc. as well.

What do you do if your situation isn’t straightforward?

If you have multiple locations, different types of business from one location, historic listings etc. you may well need some more assistance. As such I thought I would be all commooglely about it and ask a few people in the Google+ Discuss community.
Below you will see their answers…

What about if you area a company with more than one location?

Robert Wallis says, “if I had a “Company” with a number of physical locations I would do the following:
1: Set up a “company” page to act as the “brand” [you can see how to do this in the video above] 2: Set up (or upgrade any maps entries) for each location as a Local Page.
The “brand” page would the circle all the “local” pages, and share content pushed out by local page managers. “

How about changing a listing?

There is a lot to know about Google Local, so I also called upon Andrew Huskinson to explain this even further in this section below (also made in a comment):

“Once you have started a Company or Business + Page its not possible at the moment to change it to another sort.

A new Places Edit screen is being rolled out but not reached the United Kingdome yet.  This will bridge the +Local Business page and Places entry issue.
You can have a Places entry for any physical location of a business.”

What about businesses who provide services?

Andrew Huskinson says…”if you are just an office, real or home based, which conducts business by phone, post or internet then you must set up as a Service Area business in Places, hide the address and set a Service Area.  You should not expect to show in a normal Google Search except very locally.  You need this entry in order to set up an Adwords account where you can target geographic areas.  You will have no Map Maker entry.

Each location you want to use + Social for needs a + Profile first in a persons name.  A manager, blogger or principal will do.  You can have a + Profile for each entity you are or associated with. Just Post appropriate content.

Under this you can set the various + Pages.  Only a +Local Business page can be verify/merged with a Places entry for the same address.  You can invite other + Profiles to be a + Local Business page manager and its best to add a couple where possible to ensure you do not lose access to the page.

Where you have several locations then the rule about Service Areas still applies to each one.  Sometimes its best not to list a head office in Places as it can conflict with nearby local or franchise locations.”

What should you be posting from your Google Pages?

Well, Andrew Huskinson says “The rule is that any Google Plus Profile, for a self-owned, or + Company or + Business page should only Post networking content.  If you have an additional + Local Business page that is for posting content for its local customers and for them to Follow from their + Profiles and leave reviews on the Places Google+ search page.  Note reviews from new + Profiles where you have several will trigger a review spam filter.  So do not try to garner reviews and if you ask, check they are active reviewers first.  Reviews left on the clients own location enabled mobile phone on their own internet access whilst at your location are best.

Only occasionally link to a + Local Business page from your networking + Page.

And you can set up a + Local Business page for a Service Area business but do not try to verify/merge yet with a Places entry.  (It all worked for me last year but I had to Delete and start again.)”

What tips do you have to get a Page verified (i.e. a tick next to the name)?

Andrew Huskinson continues…”also before you try to verify, or Google get round to doing it for you, make sure you have no duplicate entries for searches in Google Maps, browser bar or on Google+, by business name, address or primary phone no. If you have ever moved, re-branded or changed phone numbers in the past I would have a good search for old data and edit or delete it as well.

If you have a shared professional office you need to make sure any + Pages or Places entries for each professional do not have the office name in them, or phone no.  It may be best to get their professional entries and other web directory entries listed at home and do the same for Places and + Pages.  Also do not add specialities to the personal Categories so that they do not compete with the office entry.”

So, as you can see, there is a lot to all of this! If you want more help navigating the options, just get in touch with anyone I’ve mentioned and I am sure they will be happy to help.

Reviews – supporting your favourite businesses

Central to Google Local are ‘review’. So you will want to be getting some yourself – they appear as ‘stars’ with numbers next to your listing.
But it is worth noting that you cannot solicit reviews from people with incentives.
So, here is an idea – why not start doing reviews yourself for local businesses?
This is a great way to learn the how to use the system and also those business owners may well reciprocate if they like your service as well.
Here are a few ways to think about it:

You are sowing seeds that other people will then pick up as content in their personal social layer experience, i.e. local. So, every review you write is a way of adding your viewpoint. These “seeds” will then be present (in some form) when people are looking for related business/locations/clubs etc. This is great for showing yourself as a helpful local business!

You could review restaurants that you want your friends to know about. Or for a lunchtime snack… If you think a local sandwich shop is the best in the area, you will be letting the world know your thoughts. And why would you want anyone to have a bad sandwich experience?!

Think about what activities you do e.g. martial arts classes, reading, bars, and businesses you support. You can support them further by writing a positive review. Why not? You would tell people verbally and this is just modern day word-of-mouth.

Foreign places you know. How about places you’ve visited and want your friends to know when they go there too?
These are all seeds that will be sown when people are travelling.  When people search for “Golden Gate Bridge” you will have already given your hints and tips. If you have the knowledge of a local attraction but just aren’t there now, then this is a perfect way to influence.

You are also building up your personal and business brand with every review you write for other people as well.

Quick tip when writing reviews:

Make it personalPeople reading it will “relate” to you much more, especially if they are already in your network. This helps to form or deepen the relationship.
They will, putting it simply, relate to you in another context.
The more they “know you”, the more they will understand your perspective on that matter.

Reviews only take a couple of minutes If you wrote 3 reviews a day and did this for 30 days you will have 90 seeds sown in cyberspace. All in areas that you know, like, and want other people to know about. Of course, you can do less positive reviews but have a think whether you really need to say things negatively, or whether it is best not to say anything at all.

Promoting your Google Local Page using Google Express

So often, you want to be the company who jumps into a potential customers’s head whenever they are looking for your product or service. With Google Local, you can use a pay-per-click system from Google to enable that to happen through Google Search. It is a far simpler version of Google Adwords (their full pay-per-click advertising system) and is especially made for Google Local Pages.
Everything you need to know is in this video… 

Conclusion

Every business with a physical location is a business that could well benefit from having a Google Local Page and listing. Not only may they appear in Google Search with more information, including those reviews, but also the opportunity to promote the Page to local audience using Google Express is very straightforward.
So putting it simply, if you are a local business, get yourself a Google Local Page.