Why Merchants Now Need Google+ Presence

In case you missed it, there was a big announcement this month about Google search results and how Google is capitalizing on their own Google Plus (Google+) product.

This change should not be overlooked. Like it or not, merchants need to create profile pages on Google+ and make it a pleasurable experience for their audience and customers. Those who don’t can expect significant demotions down the Google search engine results page (SERP). That’s because Google now lists social business pages and photos from Google+ in search results.

It is getting harder to keep up with search and social marketing tactics for your brand as the space literally changes daily. For now, keep it simple, address some basic needs and try not to feel overwhelmed.

Consider these four tips to make sure your customers can find you:

Create a Google+ account for your business: Keep it simple if you do not have the time or resources to dedicate to it (YET), but do not put it off. Share the page with others.

Use smart text in your description and information about your business on the page
Think about the keywords that customers may put in Google to find you. Include your amenities and things that explain your business and make it stand out. Tell a good story, but try not to be too complicated or vague.

Example: We are a hotel in downtown Chicago, located at 1234 Example Street, across from the Willis Tower. Our hotel offers great amenities like an indoor swimming pool, transportation to Chicago’s coolest spots and restaurants, courteous staff, free Wi-Fi in all rooms, competitive rates, airport shuttle service to all Chicago airports (list them) and pets are welcome.

Upload a few good images to showcase to your customers
Images will continue to become more important within search results. In fact, photos are the easiest way to engage customers on social networks. Showcase your business with outstanding photos of your location, employees and products and services. Finally, name your photos with the people who are in them, the name of the product or service and the location. This all plays into the search results.
Example of a bad title: picture-of-pool.jpg
Example of a good title: Chicago-hotel-pool.jpg

Use your Google+ page to talk about your business with posts
Think about the kind of posts that generate interest with customers. This will start to qualify you to appear on the right hand rail of the Google search results. Engagement rules. The more you engage with your audience or circles, the more your business gains exposure to Google and content that can end up on the SERP. Don’t abandon your page and be sure to post frequently (once a day or a few times a week is a great start).

Here are some examples to engage with your circles and audience:

  • Are you looking for fun things to do in Chicago when you visit? Let our hotel concierge at (X Hotel Name in downtown Chicago) share the best spots to eat and cool places to visit during your stay.
  • Have you been to Chicago? What is your favorite thing to do in the summer? Our staff at (X Hotel in Chicago) is always looking for ideas and ways to make your stay more fun! We would love to hear what you think!

Finally, make sure your posts have keywords that could help in search results and create buzz, and aim to create content that gets people to pass on what they read on your page and send to their circles!

Have fun creating your Google+ page and encourage your family, friends, and employees to be a part of your circles and help grow your audience. But before you can do this, the first step is setting up your page and taking advantage of what Google is doing. Just dive right in.

Jon Schepke is president and founder of digital marketing agency SIM Partners (www.SIMPartners.com).

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