Google+ Local, formerly Google Places, is a valuable resource for any retailer looking to use the web to drive offline sales.
In a nutshell, it allows businesses to create a listing (via a Google+ page) which will appear next to relevant, especially local, search results.
As more people use smartphones to search for local businesses, a well optimised Google+ Local listing is an essential.
This is something I covered in our recent How the Internet can Save the High Street report.
Here's why offline businesses should be creating a listing...
What is Google+ Local?
This used to be known as Google Places, but has since been merged into Google+, as it looks to find more ways to force people to use its social network...
By creating a Google+ page and optimising Local listings, businesses can have greater control over how they appear in local search results.
For example, if I search for a restaurant near the Econsultancy office, I see these results:
As you can see, results are plotted on the map and listed along with their addresses and average review scores. The team behind The Modern Pantry have clearly done a good job, as its result stands out, with a high average review score.
Also, when you hover over it, it gets better. A brief description of the restaurant appears, along with opening hours and contact details:
it has also used Google Business Photos to allow people to take a tour of the inside:
All in all, this restaurant has done a lot to make its results stand out, provide information and images for potential diners, while users see the reassurance of positive reviews and ratings from customers.
This works well on mobile searches too, as review scores are displayed prominently, along with the option to click and call straight from the result:
Why use Google+ Local?
The growth of mobile and local search
According to Google stats, 85% of UK mobile users seek local information on their smartphone, and 81% take action using the local content. Even if you don’t have a website, this is a great way to maintain an online presence and provide potential customers with information on and directions to your business.