How to Optimize Google+ Local without Trashing Your Rankings

The title says it all – that’s what everyone’s afraid of. Work your butt off for hours and then find out you ticked off the king of the search world by accident, seriously damaging your business in the process.

If you’re not already familiar, Google+ Local replaces Google Places, combining both Places and Plus. It provides both search and map results as people search the web.
Here’s what you’ll need to do in order to make yourself as effective as possible on Google+ Local:

local1. Claim Your Business Page (If You Haven’t Already)
If you haven’t done this yet, here’s a short tutorial. If you have completed this step, then you can also merge your business page with your Google+ local page, and you can find a short tutorial for that here.

2. Update On-Page Information
Once you’ve followed those steps, update all the information on-page. Get your address, contact information, hours, photos, and reviews up. Make sure you also share relevant information on your page, but it works best to share 80% third-party related content and 20% of your own content.
Why is this? How will people know you’re great if you share everyone else’s stuff? If you only share your own stuff, you don’t appear credible to your audience. By sharing mostly related resources, you act as the authority in your local niche. People trust you because they know you’re out there to help them, and not just to tell them how wonderful you are. The less self-serving and more helpful your business appears, the better.

3. Acquiring Citations

There are 2 types of citations: structured and unstructured. Structured citations include your business NAP information (name, address, and phone number) on a reputable business directory like Yahoo or Angie’s list.

An unstructured citation is a more casual mention that appears maybe on a local newspaper’s website, your social media profile, or a blog.

The more citations you have from quality websites, the more authoritative Google believes your website is. As a result, you will see stronger rankings in its results pages.
This process is by far the most time-consuming, and you have to keep acquiring citations on an ongoing basis to remain competitive.

Do you see why local businesses are hiring internet marketing agencies to handle this work?

When Should You Be Happy?
If you’re in the top 10, or anywhere on the first page in either maps or organic results, be happy. Unfortunately, Google is so non-specific in what you need to do to outrank your competitors that it’s impossible to precisely plan what will help you get from #10 to #3. Even the most revered experts in the SEO industry will tell you to simply enjoy the fact you’re somewhere in the top 10 for your target keywords. Instead of obsessing over how to get higher rankings, it makes more sense to find additional, less competitive keywords.

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