SEO for Google+ local search results
Google local business listings have changed massively over the last two years. In addition the growth in mobile devices has catapulted mobile search up the list of digital marketing priorities.
Mobile means local search queries and results; so take advantage of the review feature in Google+ local to make sure your aggregate review score displays in search results for local queries.
This review score has been given prominence by Google designers in the search results, when a feature like this is made so visible no doubt Google are looking at the resulting click through rates. This is your opportunity to source reviews and get your Google+ Local listing to stand out.
Google has given a lot of weight to emphasise the score out of 30 for each business, the box stands out clearly from the surrounding text.
Reviews and social proof and are an important part of any buying process
The internet allows us to explore potential products and services in depth before we commit to a buying decision. Increasingly online reviews, testimonials and social proof are important pieces of information which help form the perception of your business or service.
Having your aggregate review score appear on a page of local results is a great way to immediately differentiate your company from competitors. Having a high quality score from a wide range of verified accounts will be a positive validation of your business.
Google wants quality reviews of your business from real people
When Google created local business listings and began to show them as search results, the reviews it sourced where scrapped from a variety of third party sources such as Yelp.
In 2011 Google acquired the review company Zagat, their system uses several touch points to create a richer interpretation of the reviewers experience.
Zagat built their reputation by supplying quality restaurant reviews in printed guides and later they moved online. The Zagat model was to produce an in depth rating system that asked reviewers to rate their experience over a number of touch points.
Google later rolled out the combined Google+ business page and local listing page, creating the Google+ local listings which appear as map results in search. The only way reviews can be left for these pages is via a verified Google+ profile.
Though Google kept much of the Zagat principles they simplified the review process using four choices to describe the experience and a large text box for the reviewer to complete.
In order to trigger the appearance of your aggregate score you will need to have a minimum of eleven reviews.
When internet users qualify searches with terms such as ‘in’ and ‘near’, the types of results returned will vary from a search with a non descriptive geographic term. It is likely that a combined result page of organic and local results will be shown.
In order for your aggregate review score to appear in search listings, a minimum of eleven reviews is required.
Strategy for gaining a Google+ local aggregate review score
To activate your review score you will need Google+ reviews. Which given that many of your customers may not be signed up or using Google+ could be your first barrier to overcome.
You can encourage customers to join Google+ using the event tools and by creating Google+ hangouts also.
Our strategy used a series of free events to boost the number of Google+ local reviews for Yodelay . We created a series of free SEO training courses in our home city of Norwich. Then using our existing email lists, social media accounts and other local online entities where we could share news, publicised the courses.
Getting users interested in Google+
- You may need to entice and or introduce your clients to Google+ in order to have them create Google+ accounts.
- We did this by creating a Google+ event prior to the training course and inviting the attendees to confirm their attendance.
- After each training event was completed we then created a Google+ hangout and invited the attendees to join and ask any questions they had regarding the training course. A hangout is the Google+ group video chat function.
- The next step was to ask for a review from the attendees we then followed up each attendee with a simple request, could they offer feed back on he course.
- We provided link to our Google+ local page. Those who had stayed the course and created a Google+ account in addition to having a positive experience on the training course left us some glowing reviews.
- Read the google+ reviews for Yodelay here
- 14 reviews
- Google+ Local review score of 29 out of a possible 30
- 14% conversion rate of attendees creating reviews.
From 99 attendees we gained 14 reviews so a little over a 14% conversion rate of attendees creating reviews, once the reviews tipped over the magic number eleven then the aggregate score was produced and published along side the results.
We can now look at the data in the coming weeks and months to review how much of an impact having the score displayed affects the click through rate.
This is done by monitoring our Google Places business dashboard.
A free event strategy is only one way to recruit reviews. We chose this path deliberately as it allowed us to engineer situations where use of Google+ features such as events and hangouts, as episodes in the path were relevant and would make sense to the end user.
Think about your own value proposition and at what points in the customer journey it makes sense to make a direct approach to ask for a review.