Get on the Map with Google+ Local

Google+ Local, search, mobileIf you haven’t done a Google search on your local market recently, you probably should: With a recent, large-scale rollout of an updated Google Maps now live on desktops and mobile devices, the results may surprise you.

Take a recent search for “San Francisco cosmetic surgery,” which returned the usual text-based results, along with a standard Google Maps that, when clicked, brought up the image above. With both teeny-tiny red squares and large red circles with names attached representing doctors’ offices, which ones do you suppose the average aesthetic consumer is most likely to click on?

If you said the latter, then you probably recognize the value of claiming your Google+ Local profile.

While many of the improvements to Google Maps — real-time traffic reporting, alternative modes of transportation, etc. — are designed to help consumers get where they’re going, businesses that take advantage of the changes may also gain an advantage on the competition.

Here are 3 ways to press the advantage even further:

Add photos: Adding a gallery of Before & After photos to your Google+ Local profile automatically adds them to your Google Maps listing. For mobile searchers, in particular, such images can sway potential patients who are still narrowing their options.

Incorporate reviews: Ever since Google bought the restaurant-review publisher Zagat, the company has been leveraging reviews to provide users with more informative results (and not just for restaurants either). Encourage satisfied patients to leave reviews on your Google+ page and snippets of them will be automatically integrated into your Google Map listing.

Google+ Local, reviews, search

Be mobile-friendly: Considering that 61% of smartphone owners have searched for a local business on their phone, providing a seamless experience is essential. When they click from your Google Maps listing to your practice website, a site that loads slowly or renders poorly is not going to tempt them to stick around. Equally important, if those searchers are logged into their own Google accounts, they can save their searches so they show up on whatever device they happen to be using.

Ultimately, all of the above is just further proof of Google’s efforts to create an all-encompassing ecosystem that incorporates email, search, social and more in an effort to maintain a hold on people’s time online. (Apple, Microsoft and Facebook are doing much the same.) Whether you buy into the whole package or not, ignoring that reality will only make it easier for online searchers to overlook you as well.

Doctor Takeaway

There’s more to Google Maps than just getting directions

Claiming your Google+ Local listing can provide a major boost to your visibility to aesthetic consumers considering their options. Work with your webmaster or marketing agency to complete the process or download this ebook from ReachLocal, which offers a good backgrounder and step-by-step instructions.

About Rob Lovitt

Rob Lovitt is a longtime writer and editor who believes every good business has a great story to tell. He has written for dozens of magazines and websites, including NBCnews.com, Expedia.com and the inflight magazines of Alaska, Horizon and Frontier airlines.

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