If you’re marketing a local healthcare service – a private medical practice, dental surgery or any other business with a local presence – then a well-thought out Google+ Local page can be crucial to your success on Google.
If you’ve searched for any local service on Google, you’ll have seen these pages come up – typically you search for a business type plus a location – in the example below I searched for ‘Dentist Sheffield’ – and you see a ‘pin’ and a link to a Google+ page.
Some of these pages may have been generated automatically by Google, but they can (and should, for best effect) be adopted and customised by the business owners themselves.
Adopting or Creating a Google+ Local Page
First, search Google to check whether you already have a page – put your business name into Google, search, and click ‘Maps’ to see if any listings appear under your business name. If that doesn’t turn anything up, try searching again but this time including your address too – sometimes they can be quite tricky to find.
If you do find an existing listing, it’s better to take that one over than to create a new listing – you don’t want duplicate pages out there to confuse people.
Click through to the Google+ page and scroll down – on the right hand side you should see a button that looks like this:
Once you’ve made some changes to the page, you will need to verify it – either by phone (Google will immediately call the phone number on your listing with a PIN number) or by post (Google will send a postcard with a PIN number on it to the address on your listing).
If you don’t already have a listing, create one from scratch here: www.google.com/placesforbusiness. Follow the instructions through, and again you will need to verify your listing with a PIN number.
Creating a winning listing
There is no one set formula for creating a successful listing, but follow the following guidelines and you should maximise your chances of success.
Fill in everything you can
Generally speaking, pages which are more complete will perform better – fill in all the relevant boxes; don’t get half way down the page and then think “I’ll fill in the rest of this later”, because the chances are you won’t!
You can add up to ten photos – so add a full set of ten if you can.
You can have a description of up to 200 characters, so use them! Make sure you fully (but concisely) describe your business, and include the kind of phrases you think your visitors would be searching for here. Describe the different services you offer. Remember that you’re writing both for Google (ie you want to include your target keywords here) but also for human beings – potential patients or clients who you need to entice in.
You can put your business into up to 5 categories, so you may as well use all 5! As long as two of your categories are chosen from among those pre-defined by Google, you can make up categories for the rest – so if there is no suitable category, create one for yourself!
If you have any videos of your business, or if you can specify opening hours, give details of parking, payment methods, or anything else, then add them in – you’re showing both Google and the wider world that your business is active, up to date and has good attention to detail.
Keep your contact details consistent
Most of us have addresses that can be expressed in several different ways – my own office, for example, is sometimes called ‘Office 1’ and sometimes ‘Unit 1’ – and there are sometimes parts of the address that are optional, such as the area within the city where you are located. You may have two phone numbers, and sometimes quote one and sometimes the other. In order for search engines to consistently recognise that the various different mentions of your website around the internet all relate to the same business and location, it is helpful to ensure that all the listings of your business (including Google+ but also in other places too) are identical – or as close to identical as possible.
One of the key things that will help your Google+ Local page to rank well – and one of the key things you should therefore be doing - is asking customers to review you on Google+ Local.
You’ll notice that the pages that tend to rank well will usually be ones which have got (usually positive!) customer reviews. It’s not as simple as ‘the more reviews you have, the higher you will rank’, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction to start collecting reviews.
So – how do you encourage real customers to review you?
This is tricky, because in order to post a review on Google+, your clients have to have a Google+ account. Google+ is Google’s social network, but compared to Facebook and Twitter it has relatively low usage. How many of us have clients who would be willing to sign up to a social network they don’t want to be a member of just so they can post you a review? Probably not many, so it’s best to find clients who are already on Google+. Look out for clients who work in IT or marketing, or who are particularly keen on social networking – they’re more likely to have an account than most.
A client with an existing Google+ account should find the process fairly straight forward - on your Google+ page there will be a button like this:
For those who don’t have an account already, pointing them towards this video would give them a helpful guide on how to get started:
Author profile: Helen Culshaw
- Helen Culshaw has been working in the digital media industry for 14 years and founded Ascendancy Internet Marketing in 2004
- Her particular specialisms are search engine marketing and website project management. She is a Qualified Google AdWords Professional
- She is a regular public speaker and writer on internet marketing related subjects and is a Visiting Lecturer at the Universities of London, Worcester and Wolverhampton