Google+: The most important Google page your business is ignoring

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Have you set up a Google+ Business Page? You better go and find out, particularly if you have a local business such as a cafe or retail store. Staggeringly, most businesses don’t know they have a Google+ Business Page.

We know that activity and engagement on your Google+ Business Page directly affects a company’s Google search results, even at the local level. Google set these pages up automatically in May 2012. It happened to many Australian businesses, whether they knew it or not.

The idea is that these pages are also intertwined with Google Map listings. These were once referred to as Google Places, but Google has attempted to rebrand them and blend them with their social network, Google+.

If you are confused already, I apologise. As Google+ changes are made frequently, what I am saying today may not be true tomorrow. You may feel like you just want to avoid this network altogether, but I encourage you not to. G+ Business Pages can be very effective if you use them.

Here are some tips to get started. You may need to go looking for your page.

1. Claim management of your page.

If you find your business page, claim the management of it. Type your business name and Google+ into a Google search. For example: “‘The Corner Shop Yarraville’ Google+”. Like I said before, Google+ is largely integrated into what was previously known as Google Places. Basically it’s the information Google shows you about a place when you look at their maps.

If you have a listing, you should see it in the search results. Click on the Google Plus link and go to the page. You should see a button that says, “Manage this Page”. Go through this process until its completion.

2. Validate your listing.

This proves to Google that your business really exists. Google will send a post letter containing a PIN and activation instructions to the business address associated with your listing. After you validate your listing, you may edit it at any time. Or you can try and find it here: http://www.google.com/+/business/

3. Complete all fields.

Fill in ALL of your details. Make sure you add as much information as you can: opening hours, contact information, a description with keywords that may lead people to your business, and more. Don’t skip this part.

4. Upload images.

People tend to be more engaged with photos, so upload as many as you can of your business. Aim for 10 great ones. Use photos that are relevant to your potential customers — photos of friendly staff, your storefront, products you sell or projects you completed.

5. Add page managers.

Allow additional page managers so your page can be updated by the people who you want to manage it (preferably someone who already takes care of other social networks).

6. Get customer reviews.

The more the reviews there are on your page, the greater the indication people have been using your services. Google translates that as a more relevant search result, and other potential customers will find you in their search results.

If you find out you don’t have a Google+ Business listing, you may want to think about creating one. Just follow the prompts here: www.google.com/+/business/

Even if you are not a local business, you may still want to cash in on the good Google juice in search results. You can create a Google+ Business Page for brands here: http://www.google.com/+/business/brands/