[WWN FREE] Google+ Local and You

by Troy Lakey
TaxProMarketer C.O.O.

Nate's written to you in this space before, fairly recently even, about Google Places ... About how important it is for your business to be listed there, and how valuable it can be to optimize your listing. I won't rehash those thoughts here.

[And, as he indicated in that article, if you're a member of our website marketing services, we're of course handling that for you, including much of the below, to the extent possible as a third party -- but there is even more you implement here, in your own office and with your clients, to build upon our efforts for you. So, read on...]

What's worthy of updating you on is the fact that Google Places is no more.  It's gone. At least as we knew it.

Google, in their ever-continuing innovation, has replaced it with what they're now calling "Google + Local".

We'd been hearing the rumors swirling around the internet marketing community since at least the fall of last year that many of the changes described below were going to take place -- and then just a couple of weeks ago, Google pulled the trigger on it, in typical Google fashion: suddenly, without prior announcement.

So again, why does this matter for your tax/accounting practice?

It matters because this is still the localized listings that Google provides to your potential new clients, in your area, who are actively searching for someone to help them with exactly what it is that you do. That's a space you want to be stepping into, every time the opportunity arises.

The format's just changed a little. But in ways that make the space even more potentially valuable for your business.

So here are the basics:

Google's aim with it's recent changes are primarily to make finding great local businesses like yours, Nate, a more social, and local experience, and to increase accessibility on mobile devices.

Again much like with the old yellow pages, Google likely already has a listing for your business. But it's what you and your clients do with that listing that can matter for your marketing.

The good news about the change is that if you are already using Google Places, you won't have to do anything additional to convert your profile to Google + Local. All listings were transferred over automatically last month--including those we'd already set up for our website marketing clients. You will also continue using the dashboard in your Google Places account to manage your listing and view analytics.

What you will notice that's different, however, is a greater emphasis on reviews and input from friends. Here's how Google described it:

From the new "Local" tab on the left-hand side of Google+, you can search for specific places or browse for ones that fit your mood. If you click on a restaurant, or a museum (or whatever), you'll be taken to a local Google+ page that includes photos, Zagat scores and summaries, reviews from people you know, and other useful information like address and opening hours.

Google+ Local is also integrated across other products you already use every day. If you're looking for a place on Search or Maps, you get the same great local information there too.

If you are not actively asking happy clients to leave reviews about your firm on your local profiles, it's a really great time to start. As reviews become more important in local listings, having great ones will help you stand out among your competition and show up more visibly to people looking for tax or accounting services online.

If you're interested in seeing a demo of how the new "Google + Local" pages now work, you can check out a video released by Google about it here: http://youtu.be/NgDdwl67qNY

We also recommend asking for testimonials and reviews as part of your everyday business process. An easy way to do this is to send an email after working with a client that has a direct link to your listing. Or, purchase an easy creative domain like "ILoveMyTaxPro.com" that you can forward to your listing and ask people to visit and leave a review after they've worked with you.

There's a lot of ways to approach this, the important part is that you take action and start getting reviews. It will help you stand out tremendously in the local search results -- especially on mobile devices, where the majority of online traffic is increasingly occurring.

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