If you haven’t noticed, Google is now putting local business contact information, directions and operating hours directly in the top right corner of the search results page – often making a visit to your website unnecessary. In this post we'll tell you:
- How to get your business on the right side of Google
- What are the implications of Google putting you there
- Exactly what steps to take to make the most of the information shown
- How to keep traffic coming to your site
Google Now Featuring Small Business Details at Right in Search Results
These callout displays of information appear to be an extension of their "Knowledge Graph" rolled out in May 2012.
At first we saw this happening with public institutions like the local branch of our public library. Then we saw Google showing the hours (for that day) of the local location of a grocery store chain.
Now, as you can see in the picture, Google is even showcasing the hours and location of our local veterinary clinic. This is a mixed bag situation but one you can make the most of.
Implications of Your Business Being Listed as Google's "Knowledge Graph"
It's one thing if Google highlights information on a historical figure like "Napoleon," or the "weather in Paris", but there are more significant impacts when Google does this to a business or non-profit that would prefer to present their information on their own website on their own terms.
- Can you get Google to stop showing your business's info at the right? Probably not. It's Google and they're going to do what they do. But you can take control of the information that appears there as much as possible.
- The good news - is that people who are trying to contact you will see your location, hours and phone number boldly featured at the right and be able to find you right away. This may be your ultimate goal - to get them to visit or call.
- The bad news - is that customers might visit or call without first getting vital questions answered on your website or giving you their contact information like an email address which you've carefully set up your website to capture.
How To Control Your Business Information that Google Shows
If you can't beat 'em, join 'em: List your business with the relevant Google accounts. Google's offerings can get a little confusing so here's a breakdown of the different types of Google business listings:
Google Plus for Business
Start here - Create an account at Google Plus for Business (http://www.google.com/+/business/). This is where you create your own Google+ page for your business. At Google Plus you have complete control of your business listing information. Also, Google Plus is the social media of Google where you can give and receive "+1"s and network with others.
Google Places for Business
Then go here - Google Places for Business (https://www.google.com/business/placesforbusiness) - This is where Google lists your business in their business listings. It's kind of like the Google Yellow Pages. Google Places replaces the old Google Local.
A Fast, Easy and Inexpensive Way to List Yourself in Many Places is with a Local Listings Package
Once you have a Google Plus account, link your Google Plus with your Google Places. This puts you in as much control of your Google listings as possible. This is where Google gets information about your hours and location, including for placement on Google Maps, and more. Google Places is where your business reviews will appear.
From Google Places you can run specials to appear when people are close by (perfect for local retail and restaurant businesses) and you can start an AdWords campaign.
In Summary: Google Plus - You have complete control and it's Google social networking site so you can share information and connect with other people. And Google Places - is Google's business listings with hours, location and photos (you control) and reviews which you can respond to, but not delete.
Claim Your Business on Listing and Review Sites
Make sure to claim your business in all the review sites that show on your business listing. In the example above you can see that Google has chosen to show links to superpages.com, insiderpages.com, CitySearch and Yahoo.com. These are big ones, but there are others.
A much faster and easier method is to use a Local Business Marketing package to quickly claim your site on the major review sites and business listings.
How to Divert Traffic Back to Your Site
After you've listed your business and uploaded photos with Google and the other major online listing and review services you've done the best you can at managing the info Google chooses to show at right of the search results.
Now it's time to take control of diverting traffic back to your own website where you have complete control of the information you present to customers and can collect email addresses for your mailing list.
Grab Prospects with Content Marketing
When customers search for information and product alternatives they typically go through the stages of a "Purchase Funnel": Awareness, Consideration, (Inquiry), Preference, Purchase (followed by Retention/Advocacy).
Expands Your Footprint
Use informative content to catch people in the Awareness, Consideration Preference, phase of their search. Creating specific materials (articles and/or graphics) expands your presence and broadens the group of prospective people you can reach by giving you many opportunities to get your name in front of people as they research your industry for the first time or as they look for specific service providers.
Builds Your Brand's Awareness
By creating content that solves problems and explains options and alternatives you position yourself as the helpful brand or person with the answers. This is the beginning of a relationship and makes sure prospects keep you in mind as they narrow their choice of service providers.
Establishes Your Expertise
Writing informative and educational content shows potential customers that you know what you are talking about when it comes to the business you're in. If few in your industry are doing this, it puts you ahead. If many in your industry are producing helpful content you'll want to do this to keep up.
Use On-Site and Off-Site Content
You definitely want people to see that you answer questions and explain how your products and services benefit your customers when they come to your website. After all, this is where you need to close the deal and you don't want them going anywhere else if they're lacking information.
However, you can't just rely on your website to get your name in front of prospective customers. A strong content marketing strategy places your great content on multiple sites shared by your industry or of interest to your target audience.
And the best writing technique gives the audience just enough information to be helpful, but also leaves them with a tease about getting even more if they follow the link back to your site.
Content Marketing Helps Organic SEO
Finally, an added benefit of an on and off-site content marketing strategy is that it creates internal site links and external inbound links which helps Google see how your content is related to sites and topics around the web.
We only mention this last as an added benefit because a content marketing strategy should be more about intersecting searchers with informative content than a backlink strategy to improve SEO. For Local SEO options click here.
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UPDATE: It looks like WebProNews is noticing an even more disturbing trend with Google Knowledge Graphs, which is Google offering name brand information in the Knowledge Graph on even a generic search like, "Travel Insurance". Read the article here.