How to use Your Google+ Profile for Local SEO

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Captain Picard Meme

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trust Jean-Luc. He knows what he’s talking about!

Google+ is an interesting animal. A year ago, a lot of people were still referring to it as a ghost town but a lot has changed since then and month by month, it feels like more and more people are taking it seriously. It’s certainly not going away and new features continue to be added, such as Google+ Communities.

In terms of how it can help your Local SEO campaign, the profile is not the primary weapon but is essential in a competitive marketplace. Kind of like in Star Trek: The Next Generation, when the Enterprise is up against particularly nasty foes (like the Borg for example!), the Phasers will not be enough so they have to use the more impressive Photon Torpedoes. Well, consider your Google+ Profile your Photon Torpedoes against your competitors. Once you have worked on your citations, established a good review strategy and tuned up your website, then it’s time to get the photon torpedoes to finish off.

Power Up With Follow Links

Within the various elements of a Local SEO campaign, high quality links are still important and can even be the deciding factor in a competitive market. Domain authority was high on the 2012 Local Search Ranking Factors (see below) and links were the new citation in 2012, so we need all the help we can get with inbound links.

Local Search Ranking Factors 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fortunately, your Google+ profile allows you to have “follow links” within your description. As well as telling people about yourself, you can also include some relevant links about your business. See below for an example of how I have done this:

Note: All of the highlighted links below are juicy “Follow Links”!

google plus profile screenshot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Within these Google+ descriptions, I’ve seen plenty of people use specific anchor text to get follow links from. But for me, especially in the wake of the Penguin Update, I’ve gone for branded anchor text to be on the safe side. It also reads better as well!

google plus social links screenshot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can also include other relevant links (see above) that people may want to know about. This is a great way of doing 3 things:

  • Increasing the Page Authority of other websites that link to you.
  • Telling your potential customers/clients where you hang out on the web.
  • Give your social links for them to connect with you. For example, I have highlighted my Moz profile showing that I engage there.

Get Indexed Faster

For most small businesses the Google spider may not visit as often as we’d like and so we need every opportunity to speed up the process. It’s been a long held belief that content shared on Google+ gets indexed very fast. If you have gone through and done a website tune-up than you want the results as soon as possible (within reason). I recommend sharing your website after significant changes or a new overhaul, but if you do, try and share it authentically. For example, say something like “We have recently updated our Website and would love some feedback”.

 

Start using Google Communities

This is really something that you should start “engaging” with (pardon the Star Trek pun) or at least keep an eye on. Google+ Communities launched at the end of last year and it’s really showing a lot of increasing activity. If you have the time, I’d recommend getting yourself familiar with this guide and start looking for groups that appeal to you. It may seem that this could be overkill for a small local business to engage with but take a look below at what I found when doing a search for Roofing Companies. This shows there is a chance to engage with other similar businesses to your own, and maybe do some “guest blogging” to get some links. As Mike Ramsey talked about in a recent Mozinar, it’s necessary to get away from the “band wagon” once in a while and try some advanced tactics.

google communities roofers screenshot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Authorship

Authorship is the process of getting your Google+ mug shot shown within the search results. Here is an example of mine below:

authorship seo spark example

 

 

 

 

When I first explain “Authorship” to clients, the first thing they usually say is “so what?”. At first, they don’t realise it’s benefits but it’s actually super powerful for a lot of reasons:

  • Amongst all your other local business competitors, it gives you a chance to show off who you are and to (literally) “put a smiling” face on the otherwise bland search results.
  • Because of the above, it’s possible to improve your CTR (Click-through rate) by 30%+!

Recently, I’ve been discussing with Phil Rozek (of LocalVisbilitySystem.com) and Travis Van Slooten (of TVS Internet Marketing) about Authorship for small local businesses, and specifically if Authorship is possible when the local business does not have a Blog.

The discussion has been very helpful for me in understanding the most efficient method of activating authorship for a small business.

Here is the method in some simple steps:

 

[wpsharely id=”1231″]

  • Get your Google+ Profile URL and copy/paste it.
  • You will then need to add ?rel=author to the end of the URL.
  • Your anchor text should be a “+” followed by your name. So, mine is +Nicholas Pratt

And the link will be something like:

<a href=”YOUR GOOGLE+ Profile link goes here?rel=author”>+Your Name Goes Here</a>

I would then recommend putting this link in the footer of your website. That way, the code will be on every page and post that you have.

After you’ve done this, you will need to go to your Google+ Profile, and under the “About” section, edit the “Contribute to” field to include your home page:

authorship instructions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, that is the simple method of adding authorship, but even that is not so simple!

For further clarity, watch the video below of Matt Cutts and Othar Hansson explaining the process.

[/wpsharely]

 

 

 

After those steps, everything should all be ready. To test, go to the Google Rich Snippets Testing tool, enter your URL and see if it’s worked.

So there are some handy actionable steps you can take to get the most out of Google+. However, it’s certainly not exhaustive as there is a lot that can be done with Google+, but the steps above are probably the most useful to SMBs.

Anyway, let me know in the comments section below other ways that you use the Google+ profile to power up your web presence.

 

 

 

 

  1. Phil Rozek
    Phil Rozek02-15-2013

    Brilliant post! I like how you broke down the specific benefits of G+ rather than
    left it at “get social” or rubbish like that.

  2. David Deering
    David Deering02-17-2013

    Great info, Nick. I like the way that you suggest that everyone approach Google+ with a holistic view. In other words, don’t just concentrate on one aspect, but be involved with all of it. Those that do will stand to benefit, both now and definitely in the future, especially with Authorship. And your suggestion is a nice, easy way to implement the author tag.

  3. Nicholas Pratt
    Nicholas Pratt02-18-2013

    @9bc9497bbd87c8d2e0d4164b47f9d171:disqus – Thanks a lot. Yes, there are specific benefits to using Google+ for the SMB and it’s (probably) not going to be things like “building a community” which is what a lot of guides will spell out.

    @Travis_Van_Slooten:disqus – Yes, it’s useful getting some links from your Google+ description as (in theory), they are followed links from a DA:100 website. It’s by no means a “magic bullet” in link building but it is worth doing. It also helps get the completion of the Google+ profile to 100%.

    That’s exciting to hear about the plugin. In all honesty, my method still does require a little bit of coding, as editing the footer in a WordPress website is not normally easy. It’s the kind of task you either need to struggle through yourself or get a developer to do the 5-10 minute job. It will be nice if this WordPress plugin can assist with all that.

    @Touch_Point:disqus – Thanks a lot David. Yes, I do try to take a holistic approach to Local SEO as well. Good old fashioned link building is high on the Local Search Ranking Factors, and it’s important for all all forms of SEO. I’ve been using the authorship method a lot recently, and it does “work like a charm”.

  4. Mike Pedersen
    Mike Pedersen02-19-2013

    This is great Nick! Always cool to find a new blog that gives out valuable information that we can take action on!

  5. GeoRanker
    GeoRanker02-20-2013

    Thanks for cool tutorial, Nicholas! Google+ is indeed no longer a ghost town, but I’m not sure if it can be called a social network either. It is generally the platform preferred by SEOs, as they are the people who know that Google Products have become indispensable to almost any optimization campaign. We know we have to get Google+ Profiles, implement Authorship, get our businesses listed on Google Maps etc… But nevertheless, 90% of my friends don’t even own a Google+ Profile.

    In a way it reminds me of the old days, back when everyone was submitting their links to digg.com, but only very few actually spent time using and enjoying that site.

  6. Nicholas Pratt
    Nicholas Pratt02-20-2013

    @twitter-414715435:disqus – Thank you! Yes, I completely agree with what you said. Google+ (whilst important) is certainly not a facebook killer. My friends are only vaguely aware of it’s existence and would certainly not use it socialise on. I think that it’s become a business tool as we are all trying to play along with Google’s platform. And of course, they know that businesses will use it for ranking/authorship/sharing so it’s probably part of their strategy to increase activity. We don’t know what will happen in 5-10 years time, but for now, Facebook will be the place for socialising.

  7. Brittany Jones
    Brittany Jones02-20-2013

    I’ve been looking for something to help me get started, and to actually understand Google+. This was a huge help! If you know of any other things to help me get started, I would greatly appreciate it!

  8. Nicholas Pratt
    Nicholas Pratt02-21-2013

    Brittany Jones – Thanks a lot for the comment, and you’re very welcome. I hope it has helped. If you want some further reading on the benefits of Google+ for SEO, I’d highly recommend reading this article by Cyrus Shepherd last year:

    http://www.seomoz.org/blog/tips-to-use-google-for-seo

  9. Patrick Coombe
    Patrick Coombe02-25-2013

    nice articles and great references