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How to Pimp Your Local Google+ Page

Your business’s local Google+ page could be like this:

But I’m guessing it’s more like this:

Don’t feel bad.  You’re not alone.  Most businesses neglect their local Google+ (AKA Google Places) pages.

At best they’re virtual business cards – minus the paper and social significance.  At worst they fail to make would-be customers step inside, because they look about as comforting and cool as a colostomy bag.

There’s hope.   If you hustle, you can be the only one in your ‘hood with a pimped Google page that makes mad bank.

You may remember the post I wrote over 2 years ago, How to Pimp Your Google Places Listing.  That’s old-school.  Less than 4 months after I wrote it, Google retired the old Places pages.  Much else has changed in the last couple of years  – with the most-recent big change being the “My Business” rollout.

In that time, I’ve put together a whole new bag of tricks for pimping a Google page.  (By the way, we help you with these as part of our LocalSpark service.)

A few notes:

  • I’m assuming you’ve got the upgraded, “fully social” type of Google page.
  • Some of these tips will improve the user-experience for people who are on your page, and others will help your page stand out in the search results (and some tips will do both).  All of them can help your local rankings at least indirectly.
  • These tips should still apply even if local Google+ / Google Places pages get a new name a month from now.  It’s possible.  Google’s “local” department has gone through more name-changes than Larry King has gone through wives.

Given that the dust seems to have settled for a few minutes on the new types of Google pages, I can finally give you my suggestions for how to pimp yours.

 

#1 – Pick a clever name for your business.

If you’re just starting out or are rebranding anyway, now is the time to think about your business name.  You’ll stand out in the search results and will probably steal most of the clicks from your lame competitors. You can also start your relationship with customers the right way: with a chuckle.

Some of my favorite names.

No, “Fidler” is not a typo.  Dr. Vicki Fidler is the dentist there.

Then you’ve got the Best Western in Intercourse, PA.

And my all-time favorite – a piercing salon in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma:

I give an honorable mention to Like No Udder, a vegan ice cream truck in Providence.  They have a Yelp page, but no Google page – probably because they don’t have a physical location.

Need more creativity manna?

 

#2 – Consider adding a “descriptor” to your business name.

 

First read my post on Google Places descriptors.  Descriptors carry some risks.  You can’t just do whatever you want.

Then see if you can think of a descriptor 1-3 words long.  It should help searchers make a choice without needing to click through to your Google page or site.

For example, if you’re John Doe, Esq. and you specialize in divorce, maybe your local Google+ business name should read “John Doe, Esq. – Divorce Attorney.”  That will help encourage the right people to click.  It will also deter people who wouldn’t become clients anyway.  You attract to the degree you repel.

 

#3 – Create a classy cover photo.

Notice I said “create.”  Don’t just buy a lame stock photo and call it a day.  If you use a stock photo, at least add your branding or logo to it, and maybe tile other photos onto it.

And notice I said “classy.”  Your photo doesn’t need to be flashy.  See the above examples.

The best approach is to pay a pro to help you design a mighty fine photo.  Even if you take the photo(s) yourself, it’s smart to get a designer to add some polish.

(More photo examples and tips here.)

 

#4 – Work your description.

Include a couple links to subpages on your site.  Mix up the formatting – like with bullet points.

But don’t overdo it.  Don’t make the description too long, or it will push your reviews far down the page.

Don’t stuff it with keywords.  It won’t help your ranking, but it might get your page penalized.  The description should read naturally.

Oh, and take it easy on the anchor text: don’t have your links read, “implant dentists Las Vegas” and “cosmetic dentists Las Vegas.”

 

#5 – Include a bilingual description.

This can be helpful if anyone in your company is multilingual.  Or maybe there’s something you really want to tell potential customers in a language other than English.

 

#6 – Add a unique special offer to your description.

Create a page on your site specifically for that offer, and put a coupon (or whatever your offer is) on that page.

The benefit of this is you’ll be able to go into Google Analytics (not to mention CrazyEgg) and learn more about how your visitors behave on your page.  This is one way to track at least some of the leads you get from your Google+ Local page – which has long been a frustration for anyone who knows what “local SEO” means.

 

#7 – Consider adding your address (and phone number) to your description.

If your address is “hidden” just because of Google’s rules, but you want customers to know your address, you might want to add your address (and phone number) to your description.

 

#8 – Get a Google Business View photo shoot.

I’ve written about the benefits of this.

You don’t need to be in a sexy industry (although if you are, it’s a no-brainer).  People want to see what your place is like before setting foot in it.

You can get even more mileage out of the photo shoot if you embed it on your site.

(It’s a minor hassle to grab the right code, so just let me know in the comments if you have questions about how to pull it off.)

 

#9 – Get at least 5 Google+ reviews.

That’s how you’ll get those golden stars next to your listing in the search results.

 

#10 – Get enough Google reviews that you get the “People talk about” snippets.

How many is enough?  Not necessarily more than a handful.

On the other hand, you’ll probably get more snippets if you have more reviews.

 

#11 – Encourage reviewers to upload profile photos.

Reviews without profile photos just aren’t “pimp”. If the customers who reviewed you don’t have a profile photo ask them to add one. It adds a nice human touch.

Also, I wouldn’t be surprised if a review is less likely to get filtered if the reviewer has a profile photo.  Total conjecture on my part.

 

#12 – Embed your Google+ reviews on your website.

Here’s a good walkthrough.

Fine, I guess technically this isn’t a way to pimp your Google page.  But it is a way to leverage the Google+ reviews on it.

(I suggest reading this good thread on Linda Buquet’s forum.)

By the way, I do mean “embed” your reviews; don’t just copy and paste them.  That’s against Google’s review guidelines.

 

#13 – Reply to your reviews – the good, the bad, and the lukewarm.

 

#14 – Feature some of your Google+ reviews in your “Posts” stream.

Yes, you can do that.

To do this, sign into the Google account you use to manage your local page, find the review (in your “About” tab), and click the “share” arrow.

 

#15 – Get reviews on sites besides Google+ and Yelp.

In many cases 3 of those sites will be mentioned on your Google page.

Up to 4 of them will show up in the knowledge graph that people see when they search for your business by name.

It’s also a great barnacle local SEO technique.

 

#16 – Mark up customers’ testimonials with Schema and feature them on your site.

They’ll show up in the knowledge graph and under the “Reviews from around the web” area of your page.

(Here’s the page where you can see the testimonials in the above example.)

By the way, the testimonials need to be unique.  Don’t just copy and paste your reviews – or snippets of them.  Although…you can take filtered Yelp reviews and repurpose them as testimonials on your site.

 

17.  Add a bunch of your customers and other people you know to your “circles.”

Some will add you back.  And they’ll all be noticeable on your page (under the “posts” tab).

 

#18 – Do at least a couple of short Google+ posts every week.

Check out the Google page of Dr. J. Ryan Fuller in New York if you’d like to see an example of good Google+ posts and “social” interaction done right.

By the way, include photos in your posts as often as possible.  They’ll make your page nicer to look at, and they’ll stick out in your knowledge graph.  (Check out this post by Mike Blumenthal to see what I mean.)

 

#19 – Encourage customers (and other readers) to leave comments on your Google+ posts.

I’d say the best way to do this is simply to ask a question in each of your posts.  You probably won’t get many people who comment, but so what.

 

#20 – Upload a profile photo.

Ideally it’s a picture of a person or of a small group of people in your company.  Goofy is usually good – like the business owner in a costume.

Whatever you do, make sure the photo would look good if it shows up in the local carousel.  (Do so for your other photos, too – see next suggestion).

 

#21 – Upload photos.  Lots of photos.

Nice examples are here and here.

Try to tell a story with your photos.  Use them as a tour of your business.  Or use them to show the problem that you can help solve, plus your solution.

Show award badges and other distinctions you’ve earned (like the Angie’s List Super Service Award).

Consider using animated GIFs in small, tasteful quantities.

 

#22 – Upload videos.

If you don’t have videos and don’t feel like making any, remove the “Videos” or YouTube tab from showing on your page.  Funnel that attention to your other tabs.

 

So, roll up your sleeves and get started on pimping out your local Google+ page. The sooner you do, the sooner you’ll be feeling like this:

pimp-kramer-o.gif


 

About the Guy Who Wrote This

Phil Rozek calls LocalVisibilitySystem.com home.  But he’s a familiar face here at Whitespark – especially since we rolled out our LocalSpark program.

 


 

What’s in your bag of tricks?

How pimped-out is your Google page?  Show us your grill.

Leave a comment!

AUTHOR

Phil Rozek

Phil Rozek calls LocalVisibilitySystem home. But he's a familiar face here at Whitespark - especially since we rolled out our LocalSpark program. He's a regular contributor to the annual Local Search Ranking Factors study at Moz and has spoken at events like SMX East, State of Search and MN Search.

Follow Me on Twitter
  • Ah Phil…I love this “Pimp” post and your sense of humor! My feeling is that videos are absolutely necessary – even if they’re just screen capture ones. They do add life to the page and I believe it does help a lot to get the page more visible.

  • Phil, great post. Thanks for the update. These are excellent strategies to help small businesses stand out in search results and tell their unique story. Implementing just a few of these tactics will help their ideal prospects recognize them as the best choice.

  • Love the pimp car on this post. Thank you for the useful information. Especially the Google Business Photo Shoot info. Look forward to more of your posts!

  • Gene Maryushenko

    Phil, yet another awesome post! I really enjoy looking at the examples you provide.

  • Great post Phil – I love the Seinfeld reference!

  • More awesomeness! Kramer and the Technicolor dreamcoat just wrapped it all up so nicely.

  • @Edgar
    Thanks. Good point about videos being so easy there’s not much excuse not to have them. People do want – and increasingly expect – to see at least a couple videos.

    @Charles, Frank, Gene, Casey, and Chris
    Thanks! I’d been wanting to weave Kramer in there for a long time now 🙂

  • Once again Phil, good info that’s actionable. Thanks for updating. The big G doesn’t really stand still so your posts are much appreciated. Schema markup testimonials is a nice little Ninja trick. Hadn’t thought of that one.

  • @Chris Carter

    Hey, thanks. I wish I’d thought of the Schema-testimonials idea, but alas, it was Professor Maps 🙂

  • Dan

    Phil. You always bang that nail flush on the head. Love it! Nice bite-sized chunks of implementation that anyone can do 🙂

  • Great insight about Google local listing. I always love to read mr. Phil’s post

  • Phil, U B bad on Google+.

  • This is my first visit to this blog and I found it most interesting. These tips are golden. I’ll be back again!

  • Nicely done, also enjoyed your previous post about pimping your Google Places Listing. It does make a difference adding some of the suggestions.
    Thanks for the help
    Cheers from Texas

  • Thanks Phil – great tips, and I appreciated the links to deeper resources 🙂

  • Thanks a very thoughtful post about something most dont consider or know about. G+ is powerful but its difficult to learn

  • Overall this is a really helpful article. One area that is no longer correct is the suggestion that people put their reviews on their web site. Mat Cutts and his team at Google in their infinite wisdom(or lack thereof) have decided that a duplicate review is the same as duplicate content and can incur a duplicate content penalty. I personally think this idea is ridiculous but reality nonetheless.

  • Phil,

    Because Google integrates your Google Places for Business page with your Google+ account, I was under the impression that you had to use the actual name of your business on your Google+ page (directly at odds with suggestion #1 “Pick a clever name for your business”). What am I missing?

  • Great post phil, I noticed today that my business page has changed to the new format, but also noticed that some keywords that once triggered a business listing for me have now disappeared, my main keywords trigger the listing but keywords + city name have disappeared! Have you noticed this elsewhere?

  • @Ron
    We may be thinking of two different things. Asking customers for unique testimonials – NOT reviews – and then marking up those testimonials on your site is OK. Always has been. I’m not talking about copying and pasting reviews. Even though businesses get away with it, Google+ and Yelp don’t allow that.

    @Ken
    I meant pick a clever name for your business, and make it legal and official (i.e. register it with the state and so forth). I wasn’t talking about just your Google+ page.

    @Chris Bottrell
    Just the upgrade wouldn’t cause any change in (1) which terms trigger the Google Places results or (2) how you rank for those terms. Something else is at play here.

  • Its amazing how important Google listings are – the maps listings takes up such a large portion of the first page. This article has some great tips on how to make you listing so much better.

    Thanks, Phil

  • Hi Phil,
    Thanks for a great post.

    As far as #8 is concerned, I did a video tutorial http://www.3dtrip.pl/umiescis-wirtualny-spacer-google-street-view-twojej-stronie-www-wideo-poradnik/ (in Polish, Classic Maps) on how to embed Street View or Business View on a website. Maybe it can help. So far, generating a code to Street View/BV is possible on Classic Maps only (to my knowledge) – another tutorial on how to switch from New to Classic Maps in order to get the embed code: http://www.3dtrip.pl/wstawic-widok-street-view-strone-www-poradnik/ (also in Polish, screenshots attached).

    Question.
    Does embedding a Business View on a website or a FB page (like this https://www.facebook.com/pages/EKO-OIL/177992702283865?id=177992702283865&sk=app_208195102528120 ) influence rankings of a G+ local page? And does it have any impact on displays of G+ page? For example, if someone’s viewing a Business View tour on my website, is it the same as if it was viewed via G+ ?

    Cheers
    Seweryn
    Google Trusted Photographer

  • Awesome tips Phil. There’s a couple of areas I’d gotten a little lazy on and this post gave me a kick up the backside. Cheers

  • This is a great post and I have already been trying to gather reviews!
    I have a quick question, how do I remove the Videos tab from the top of the page?
    Thanks

  • Awesome posts! Definitely taking some of these pointers away 🙂

    @Phil, I wanted to pick your brain about links in the description…

    A lot of my clients are plastic surgeons. What are your thoughts on linking to their secondary specialty websites in the description? Do you think this could potentially cause confusion with Google?

    Or perhaps linking to The American Board of Plastic Surgery website (or Societies the doctor is involved with)? Positives that I see in this are 1) you are linking to an authoritative website in the same field/category of the G+ listing 2) The potential patient on the page could confirm that the surgeon is indeed certified. However I can see negatives of sending the viewer to a different page other than the surgeons website…could lead them in a direction where they might never get to your website. Do you have any opinions about this?

    Thank you!!

  • Do all these suggestions work as well for a B2B?

  • @Joel
    Thanks!

    @Seweryn
    Thanks. I know how to embed Google Business View on a site; I was offering pointers to anyone who might not know. But as you say, yes, you have to go to “Classic” view.

    No idea whether it influences rankings. It can’t hurt. But I wouldn’t embed GBV on a site because of rankings considerations. It’s just a nice UX element.

    It wouldn’t influence the # of pageviews your Google page has.

    @Ian
    Godspeed to you!

    @Nicolle
    Log into plus.google.com. Hover over “Home” on the left, then click “Settings” from the dropdown. Scroll down to “Profile,” then deselect the “YouTube / Videos” checkbox.

    @Rachel
    I wouldn’t link to other sites in the description. Would Google penalize your client or be confused by the links? Probably not. But it’ll confuse the bejeezus out of people.

    @Juan
    These suggestions work for any business with a local Google+ page.

  • @Phil
    Thanks 🙂

  • Thanks for the update Phil, great post, as usual. You help cure the Google hangover.

  • Hey Mark, thanks for stopping by!

  • Rod

    Nice post Phil! I especially enjoyed the Fiddler on the tooth, I think my dentist could take a leaf out of their book.
    I see that canva are offering Google+ header images now, making it even easier for cash strapped companies to have a personalised image.

  • Phil, outstanding post. We use G+ all the time. Very helpful and love the Seinfeld references!

  • Great tips and advice!!! Looking forward to try all of them… I will let you know how they improve my results…

  • Getting customers to post reviews is something I didn’t think would be that tough. But then again, people have asked me to do reviews for them and I haven’t done them. 🙁 Ok, now I’ve guilted myself to a point where I have to do some before the day is out!

  • @Rod
    Thanks for the tip on Canva!

    @Tony R + Jose
    Thanks.

    @Bob
    Yeah, you’d better get crackin’ on those reviews 🙂

  • Nick

    I also suggest that any image you use for posts should also match the keywords of the post. I tend to go a little overboard and change the EXIF info, LAT/LON of the post to match my GLocal location – Cheers on a great post.

  • Great information. One question. Tried to get categories for a real estate agent. Google doesnt provide this anymore in canada. Any ideas? thanks.

  • @Nick
    I can’t say I have much confidence that geotagging photos does much, but I guess why not.

    @Rob P
    That’s a little off-topic, but a good question still. In Google Places you just have to pick the category that seems closest – like “Real Estate Agency.” You’ll also want to fill your yellowpages.ca listing in as much detail as you can muster. It’s Google’s must-trusted data source in Canada.

  • Great info Phil. It’s great when you read something that shows that what you’re doing is RIGHT! I really liked #14 and #16. I’m definitely going to have to add that to all the things we’re already doing. Thanks again!

  • What a Lovely Article! Thanks for sharing this.

  • Awesome post. I have been struggling with rankings for my business and these information comes in handy. Thanks for sharing.

  • Ashley

    This article was funny, informative, and exactly what I was looking for. Thank you!

  • Hi, this was great information! I’ve looking to build my rating on google and this will help. Whenever I G+1 items on the net it always defaults to my personal Google+ instead of the one I want to use for my business, is there a way I can change this?

  • Some great ideas. Thanks for the info.

    I still haven’t got any third party reviews showing (nearly 3000 on Trustpilot now). Any ideas on how to coax Google to pick these up? Have tried to match company details as closely as possible on both platforms, but no luck so far.

  • @Robin: Have you seen any other business with TrustPilot reviews showing up as third party reviews in Google? If not, my guess is that Google doesn’t trust reviews from TrustPilot.

  • Maybe one day G+ will actually have active people on it lol, but in the meantime there are many other benefits of having an active presence and profile filled out correctly. You’ve made a great checklist here and refresher. Thanks!

  • Great post Phil, lots of points/angles covered!

  • I would like to see reviews from around the web on my Google + page but can’t find how to get them there. We have such great reviews around the web and I’d love to be able to share them on my G+ page.

  • Nick

    Hello, and nice post.
    It seemed easier to manage content for businesses through Google+, but now that I have this new Google Places management screen, Im not too sure how to manage content, ie. post links, blog posts, etc.

    Here is a link to the dashboard that I see http://screencast.com/t/83Qw8ZrO4e0y

    Would love to hear some input on how to better manage content like i do on my personal Plus page.

    Thanks!

  • Hey Phil, this is definitely THE best article I’ve read so far on Google Local Pages.

    I’m trying to get my company started on Google+ and so far, it has been a mistery but now I’m starting to connect the dots.

    Thanks for another awesome contribution!

    Sergio

    PS. I say “another” because I found another article from you somewhere else with more information.

  • No offense but #1 isnt possible if you already have a business #2 is just bad advice- against Google TOS and messes up your NAP citations ( guess whitespark gets more work ?) #12 is the best of the bunch and a good idea

  • Darren Shaw

    @MRC: No offense taken.

    No offense to you, but I think you’re missing some details here.

    Regarding #1, Phil clearly states this is only for new or rebranding businesses.

    Regarding #2, it used to be excellent advice. This post was written before the December 2014 guideline change where they dropped support of the descriptors. Prior to December 2014, Google actually encouraged people to use descriptors. And, the descriptor is only something you would have added to your Google+ Local listing, not your citations (Phil makes this pretty clear in the post), so it would definitely not have any effect on citation consistency.

  • This has got to be one of the most comprehensive and useful tutorials I have found about Google+ and page pimping. I thought I knew the bulk of what could be done to improve a page listing, but you have given me food for thought. Many thanks again