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Once your company’s Google Plus Business Page has been created, you have to tune it in to what your customers want – in other words carry out some basic optimisation for people and the search engines.  This simply lets those people and search engines know; who and what your page and your online presence is about.  There’s nothing dodgy about this in the least.  For service area businesses (SABs) it’s important to understand the implications of  some of the choices you are presented with.

The intial steps should include the following parts of your new business page:

  • Profile Photo
  • Cover photo
  • Business Description
  • Location and Services Area
  • Contact Details
At Consulting Cumbria Ltd  we specialise in helping businesses improve their online presence using all the most up to date white hat i.e. properly compliant methods that will give long term results to your business.  Give us a call on 01228 907 795 to find out how we can help drive your business forward.

First Optimisation Steps for a Google Plus Business Page

Once you’ve navigated to your new page, using the menu near the top left of your personal G+ profile, click manage this page and let the fun begin.  Initially from the page’s dashboard, use the main menu to find the Profile option first.

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The Perfect Profile Photo

Galloway Consultancy Services Logo for Profile Photo on local Google business page as a service area businessFor most businesses the best profile photo will be the Logo that carries their brand!  Ideally set the image up so that the logo occupies the central region of a square image that is a minimum of 250 X 250 pixels like this one for Galloway Consultancy Services.

To insert the profile photo, simply hover your pointer over the dummy default image supplied by Google. A camera icon appears and clicking on it takes you to the upload screen.  This is explained in more detail in the accompanying video.

A more advanced technique is to prepare the photo / image with its own meta data before uploading and this is dealt with here (Link to photo tweaking article)

This involves making sure that you take the time to tweak filenames, title, tags and other metadata that can be included with the exif metadata before you upload the files.  The idea is to include the main keywords into this data in such a way that the image is correctly classified and has a better chance of showing up in image search results.

The Big Picture: Business Page Cover Images.

The cover image is added in a similar manner to the profile photo.  Hover over the bottom right hand region of the default cover image that will be visible at the top of your screen and a notification flag “Change Cover” will appear.  Clicking on it takes you to the upload screen as before.

At present the advice about best image size for the big cover image for your new business page is a little ambiguous.  The most recent advice, suggests that 960 X 540 for a business page cover photo is best.  Advice varies about this, but this article from Greg Gifford at Auto Revo seems to have unpicked the finest detail about the newest regime for cover picture sizes on Google Plus Business pages. and the dimensions I have used are a simple double of his minimum recommendation.

The new image retains the 16:9 aspect ratio, but it’s displayed at a much smaller size. Since the display ratio is the same, you don’t have to change your image – it’s automatically updated. So what’s the size, you ask? The maximum image dimensions are 2120 x 1192, but you can upload a cover image as small as 480 x 270. The recommended image size is 1080×608.

Your entire image is visible when you land on the page, so businesses can provide a much better branding experience. The ugly dark gradient that was added to the bottom of the cover image is gone, so your photo looks exactly the way you want it to look.

Your business info now appears to the left, over a blurred background – so it’s much easier to read and doesn’t cover any of your photo. The blurred background is created using the center of your cover image, so the colors match nicely. It’s a much more modern look, and the info display is much more user friendly.

Make sure that this image gets your brand message across, it should visually draw visitors in to wanting to know more about your business.

Optimising the Google Plus Business Page Description

You’ve done your market research and keyword research haven’t you? You know what your customers are searching for! You know why your business is their best solution .  The business description on these G+ pages is intended to give readers a clear picture of what you are or what your business is.  Focus the content around using clear and compelling language that includes your major keywords (without reading like a spammy keyword stuffed sandwich!)  You no longer have to squeeze the description into a 200 character limit; so be DESCRIPTIVE and enlighten your visitors into why your business is the best answer to their search queries.

Location Information for Service Area Businesses

Remembering the NAP mantra; Name Address, Phone number: it is important to make sure your address is completed accurately, matching all the other directory listings and citations that point to you as an honest business.  Perversely; this is also where you have to bite a bit of a bullet.  Plumbers, Electricians, painters, decorators, window cleaners, many business consultants and other service providers, work from home or small offices that are not suited to customer visits.  Often you travel out to a customer’s location to do your thing!  If you need the local rat catcher in a hurry, you’ll want him to come to you rather than the other way round!  These businesses operate over an area which Google views as a service area or an operational radius.  Google finally recognises that they are genuinely local business and deserve to appear on local map listings and local search results; but doesn’t want to pin them to a precise location – basically to prevent disgruntled customers turning up at the business owners home and blaming Google for the absence of customer service there.  It’s a real quandary for the search Gorilla!

So these kinds of businesses have to declare that they will deliver services to customers at the customer’s location using the check box.  And in doing so you agree to hide your address.  Once you’ve made peace with Big G about your status, you then have a couple of options.  You can declare specific service areas or you can define a service radius.  With discrete service areas you run the risk of of floating somewhere in no-man’s land on the map… trapped at the algorithmic centre of gravity of your target areas.  Alternatively you can simply declare a distance from the centre of you location where you are prepared to serve people’s needs.  This has the potential advantage of floating your map blob over the “centroid” of your town.  For most locally focussed SABs this is the preferable option.

Galloway Consultancy Services are very much a local, small company, who work the majority of the time with Carlisle and Cumbrian businesses.  However to get a bite of the bigger cherries out there, Frank, the owner is more than happy to trek up to Glasgow and Edinburgh, across to Newcastle and south to Preston, Manchester, Liverpool: even as far down as South Wales.  Yet GCS is very much a local service area business.  We are grateful for being allowed to use the company as an example.

With the service areas option, there is a second check box that says you sometimes have customers coming to your premises.  Use this carefully, the expectation is that there will be a staffed presence during your declared business hours.  Again, if G discovers that your pin marker highlights a place where customers aren’t getting the service they expect, your valuable listing is toast!

Contact Details For Your Business.

Keeping your NAP details accurate right throughout the local search ecosystem is critically important for prominence in search.  Following 2 house moves and a little oversight(!) I was the invisible local seo expert for several months. Between myself and Google my Google Places listing became duplicated at the 2nd old address and despite months of trying to get it taken down it persisted for a ridiculously long time. This of course suppressed my genuine new listing for my current address.  It was only last November – over a year after moving that I finally had my  Places / Plus Local listing back live on the map.  With the Places listing in disarray, I didn’t want to set up my own business page in case there were further nightmares to be experienced due to the rapid evolution of the Google Plus ecosystem.

Finally I was free to generate my new Business Page.  Unbelievably a typo in the postcode almost screwed that up too!  The moral of this story is that you need to be careful to double check and proof read your information.  The contact details you can add cover most types of phone, chat and email.  Again remember to fill the details out fully.  The video details exactly how to open the editing panel for this section of your business details.

SAB Business Page Summary

As a service area business- you don’t really have customers coming to you – you go out and meet them.  This means that you have to be a little careful about how you present your business address. There is a quite specific check box that you must tick to inform Google that you deliver services or products to your clients or customer’s addresses.  There is a second check box, which allows you to say that you sometimes meet customers at your business address, but you need to be able to guarantee that there will be someone available to meet greet and serve if a customer shows up!   If Google determines that customers are having a bad experience your listing could vanish overnight.  It will also directly affect the ranking of your other bits and pieces of web presence.  Google Plus is all about getting Google Users a better result! Serve up a duffer and you are Google’s next piece of toast!

These are the basics of helping search engines to categorise your page correctly and to inform human readers or viewers effectively, so that you improve your chances of showing up in the most business enhancing searches.  In short, if you are a service area business such as Galloway Consultancy Services http://business-managementsystems.co.uk/ who we have used in this example; follow these simple guidelines to ensure you have the best chance of your Local Google Plus Business Page showing up in search results in your locality, whether that’s Carlisle, Cumbria, the Borders or anywhere else in the North of England.