Search Marketing Standard has just published the following:

How To Improve The Visibility Of Your Google+ Local Profile

If you operate a local business, it is absolutely essential to have a Google+ Local listing (formerly Google Places).* People are turning to Google to find local establishments.* If your business isnít among one of the first that is found on the page, it can result in missed business opportunities.* Searchers typically only pay attention to the search results that are found above the fold, and for local search Google displays Google+ Local listings first.* Even if your site has been optimized for local search and youíve built some great links, organic listings are typically found below the Google+ Local listings.* Itís obviously still important to achieve a high organic ranking for your website, but itís also necessary to do as much as you can to get your Google+ Local profile to rank prominently.

Here are some steps to improve the visibility of your Google+ Local profile:

1.* Claim the listing

Even though a Google+ Local listing is free and can improve your search visibility by leaps and bounds, many businesses donít take the time to claim their listing.* Itís important to claim the listing so that Google knows that the information is accurate and being provided legitimately.* Once the listing is claimed it will need to be verified either by phone or through the mail with a verification code.* The verification process can take up to 2-3 weeks.

2.* Fill out every part of the profile

Preference is given to the Google+ Local profiles that include the most information.* Fill in every field and provide as much information as possible, just as you would with your website.* Google+ Local profiles are integrated into Google+, where the visual component of a page is important.* Be sure to add photos of your business to make the page stand out.* Select the most relevant categories for the page to be listed in and make sure that the information provided on a Google+ Local page is consistent with the information provided across your other online channels.

3.* Optimize the listing

Itís important to think about SEO when creating any content on the web, not just on your website.* Include keywords and keyword phrases in the business description naturally.

4.* Get reviews

Reviews are a huge component of the Google+ Local listings.* People often look to reviews of local businesses before making a decision to visit.* The more reviews that the listing has, the more useful it will be to someone that is looking for information.* Encourage happy customers or clients to leave a review and be sure to respond to all reviews.* Thank people for a positive review and apologize and offer to make good on a situation if you encounter a negative review.* All reviews need to be legitimate.* Paying for good reviews is a practice that will come back to haunt you.

5.* Improve your websiteís trust factor

Google+ Local profiles should include a link back to the business website.* Google+ Local listings that are associated with high quality sites that are trusted will be favored.* Utilize SEO, social media, and content marketing to improve the trust factor of your website.

6.* Submit information to other local listing sites

This is another way to confirm the accuracy of your listing.* If Google sees the same business information (name, address, phone number) together consistently across the web it helps to validate it.

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