How to Optimize Your Google+ Local Business Page

Social Media

Doug Antkowiak Jul 23 2012

As a note, this blog post was supposed to publish last month around the announcement of Google+ Local. Unfortunately, I’ve been expecting Google+ to magically fix itself and update our currently blank profile image to one of the images we submitted. We’re still waiting. From what I hear, we’re not the only ones suffering.

Even though Google is still working out the kinks of integrating Google+ Local with the rest of the social network, the following local business optimization tips will help you prepare for when the search empire finally get their Death Star fully operational.

What’s New With Google+ Local?

Besides making your local business profile page look exactly like a Google+ Business page, the biggest change you’ll notice is the integration of the Zagat 30-point review system (Zagat joined the Google family last fall and now they’re doing everything to stick it to Yelp). Check out George’s introductory post about Google+ Local for a more in-depth overview of the Zagat rating system and how it affects your previous reviews.

How To Find Google+ Local Pages

  • Any Google search for a business location will now display a result like this in Google Maps. When you click the “More Info” button, you’ll visit the new Google+ Local Business profile.

Map of Portent

  • Or, sign into your Google+ profile and click on the new “Local” tab. Then, search for your business name and city.

Portent Google+ Local Highlight

What To Know Before You Optimize Google+ Local

You know what really grinds my gears? When I see a link to “manage this page” even though I’ve already claimed the page.

Is This My Business

This link appears by default on all Google+ Local pages, which means every Google+ Local page looks unclaimed. Don’t freak out. If you’ve already claimed the page in the past, you can use this button to edit your page information.

Expect to Wait When Updating Your Page

Updates can take 24 hours to a week to go into affect. Also, the more times you try to update your page, the longer you’re going to wait to see results. Think of it as the digital version of spinning your tires in mud.

Google+ Local Pages Aren’t The Same As Google+ Business Pages… Yet

If you have a Google+ Local page and a Google+ Business page, Google says you should treat each page as different entities. This separate but equal stance won’t last long. You can sign up for an early upgrade request to merge your Google+ Local page with your business page, but expect some temporary issues along the way.

Tips to Optimize Your Google+ Local Page

When it’s time to update your Google+ Local page, your dashboard will look exactly the same as it did for Google Places.

Most of the local business optimization tips rely on the phonebook rule, which means all of your business information that appears online should appear exactly as it does in the phonebook. Since you’re not 65 and don’t have a phonebook handy, just make sure all your online and print business listings are congruent.

At the bare minimum, every business location should contain the following information:

Portent Google+ Local Page Guide

Business Name: This should be the official business name, as it would appear on everything from phonebooks to business cards. It shouldn’t contain any keywords or local describers, unless it’s part of the official city name for that location.

Address: Write out the full address of your business and use second address line for suite numbers, etc. Also, double-check your map listing to see if Google placed you location pin in the correct area.

Local Phone Number: The “main” number should always be a local number, not an 800 number. If there is a toll-free number, add it as an “alternate phone.”

Website: If the business has only one location or if the location pages contain little or no content, the URL should point to the homepage.

However, if the business has two or more business locations and the website has devoted pages to each individual location that include 5-6 sentences of original content, then the URL should point to that location page.

Categories: You must have at least one category description tag by default, but every business should have five (it only displays two at a time). Category description tags are sorted in order of importance and you should use one of the preferred, pre-populated categories whenever possible. The categories should not contain any local describers.

Business Hours: Business hours are signals of trust to users and search engines. If you don’t want to share your hours, Google might list your business as “closed.” It doesn’t happen all the time, but it’s been known to happen.

Pictures: You should have at least one image larger than 250×250 but less than 1024×1024 and under 1MB. This square image should be your logo or a picture of your place of business. Each page allows you to upload 10 images. By default, if you upload one image or less, the page will display a map of your location along the photo strip a Google+ (which I think looks pretty rad).

What’s frustrating about uploading images is that Google doesn’t give you the option to rearrange photos or select a photo as the page image. Sometimes it doesn’t show your photo at all (we’ve been having issues with the Portent logo for at least a week).

Suggested Information

Your Google+ Local Dashboard has areas to submit additional information. It isn’t required, but this info might improve the page user experience in the future.

Description: Your Google+ Local page will add a “from the owner” box under the business hours. Use this opportunity to add short sentence or two about why you’re special.

Email address: Your email isn’t currently displayed anywhere on the Google+ Local page, but it does appear on a Google+ Business page, which means Google may incorporate this into the listings in the future.

Videos: Videos will enhance your “profile completion percentage,” but videos do not show up on a Google+ Local page. Since Google+ Business pages do incorporate videos, this might be another feature added later.

Did Your Google+ Local Optimization Work?

You’re not the only one frustrated by this process. Be patient. When you evaluate your Google+ Local page, use this post as a check list to see if all your vital information is up to date and check to see if the Google Places pin is in the correct spot on the map.

Once you feel confident in your listing, share the link to your new Google+ Local page and remind customers and clients to give you a review.

Let us know if you’re having any luck.

tags : google placesGoogle PlusGoogle Plus Local

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14 Comments

  1. Stacy

    I “claimed” our page to update our address. Well the pin from Google finally came and I was able to update everything, but rather than fixing out-of-date info, it just turned it into an entirely separate Google+ local page which means the old one with the bad address still exists. I imagine if I try to claim that one, it will just create another duplicate. Google fail.

    • Hey Stacy,

      Try logging into your Google Places account. You should be able to see both Google+ Local pages on your dashboard. Update your original Google Places page with your new address and info. As for the new duplicated page, visit the Google+ Local page and click the “edit business details” button above the “manage this page button.” Under the headline “Is any of the following true…” mark the box that says “This is a duplicate.” Feel free to tweet me if you need anything else. @SocialDoug

  2. Sarah

    You stated we shouldn’t put in too many requests for changes at once, further confusing G. Since I have bounced from a steady position of 3 for a while for my most used keywords, then jumped last week to 2, and this weekend down to 7, I can only guess Google Local is in “flux” again. The only difference I could see was this old code, ?tracker=googlelocal (which google assigned to my url years ago) was showing up again. I deleted it. Viva la no difference! I need to wait, I guess, before I implement any of the stuff you suggest. Thanks for posting this information!

  3. Thanks for the post. Great info.
    Next post maybe you can address Stacy’s issue re. duplicates

    Oh, and phone books are still being delivered and have relevance.
    Maybe age references should stay out of the mix lest you find yourself
    in the “Nextgenjournal.com” controversy.

    Good stuff. Appreciate the help!

    • Thanks for the heads up on phone books. I made a brief addition on Stacy’s comment, but you’re right that a blog post on duplicate listings could be a great topic. I’ll be sure to send it your way when it goes live.

  4. Shalf

    We just optimized ours, thanks for the tips!

  5. Nathan

    I have had a lot of trouble with our Google+ business page since we recently moved offices. First the address hadn’t updated after three weeks so I submitted a request to the local help team who ended up updating the address incorrectly and doing so on a duplicate listing! Now they say they have merged the listings and corrected the address but it may take 4-6 weeks maybe longer to see the effects in the serps. The moral of the story is don’t move!

    • Nathan –

      Portent just moved, so we were having many of the same issues. It took Google more than a month to update our profile image.

      • @Nathan

        Yes, moving causes major troubles. I recommend you google search your old address to see other pages that may be pointing to your old address – and see if you can have them redirected to your new location.

  6. Nick Stamoulis

    When it comes to Google listings, you need to be patient. Unfortunately they don’t have customer service that is willing to help. It can take awhile to get things looking the way that you want them to, but it’s important to work at it and make changes as necessary since a Google+ Local profile can appear prominently in a search result.

  7. Mark

    It would be real nice if Google Local actually worked, but I’m not holding my breath.

    Heck, it would be great if G+ actually worked. Ever since the design upgrade G+ has been virtually unusable for many people.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love G+ I just can;t use it anymore because of the dreadful performance and usability issues.

    And sadly I think that will be the case for many people. They’ll try it, see that it’s currently unusable and abandon it.

    I hope they fix it soon, but Google doesn’t have a good track record of fixing things quickly.

    Many of us are still waiting for a stable working version of Chrome.

  8. I am thinking of hiring a guy to do optimization on my google+ business local page. Is it worth it. He want to sign me in to a 1 year contract, with a monthly fee. Is it even possible to optimize the local page?

    • Hi Melanie,

      Just looking at your site and your Google+ local business page, I can see you have a few optimization opportunities. However, I’m hesitant about the terms of your internet marketing contractor. The one-year contract sounds fishy to me, especially if he’s only offering optimization for your Google+ business page. If you’re going to hire anyone to help you do local business optimization, make sure that expert offers social optimization, directory submissions and onsite optimizations (which might be your greatest opportunity for improvement).

  9. Scott

    Doug, great post. Thanks! I have two concerns. A) I’ve read multiple times (including this post) that you should add the suite # to the second address line. This is how I entered our address however its not showing up on the user facing Google+ Local page. Is this an issue? B) When logged into my Google+ Local account clearly you can see that I have 8 photos uploaded however when viewing the profile when logged out or clicking “see your listing on Google” it says that the profile doesn’t have photos. The profile is only about 1.5 months old so is it possible that Google hasn’t digested it fully yet?

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