Having an optimized local profile for your business online is becoming a more important piece of the marketing puzzle for many small businesses. I believe the single best action a business can take in the local space is claiming and optimizing their Google Places Profile. So why is claiming your profile so important? First it’s free and secondly it is fairly quick and easy to get the basic components of the profile filled out. If you want to really optimize it you will need to spend some time with it but according to David Mihm’s local ranking factors just claiming your profile is the top ranking factor in local search.
So how are local businesses taking advantage of Google Places? I took a set of data from my local chamber of commerce and analyzed how they were using their Google Places profile. I looked at least two businesses in every industry, if two were available, and then looked at the following factors:
- Have they claimed their profile
- Do they have any photos on their profile
- Do they have any videos on their profile
- Do they have any reviews on their profile
The first and most important finding was that out of the 172 businesses looked at only 42% or 73 of them had claimed their profile.
Out of the 42% of businesses that had claimed their profile 59% had uploaded at least one photo to the page and only 27% had uploaded a video to their Places profile.
Now here is the one that should scare some business owners out there, out of the 58% of businesses that had not claimed their profile 21% had reviews of their business.
So what do these results say? While the sample size is small it does show that many businesses from a wide variety of industries are not taking advantage of local search. Many of these small businesses get the majority of their customers from the local area and are not obtaining the full visibility online that they could. It also displays that even the businesses that are claiming their profiles are not filling them out as completely as possible. With such a low percentage of video use I would suggest this as a huge opportunity for companies looking to differentiate themselves from the other results. The results also show that there are still many businesses that are ignoring the buzz around their business. Some of these companies are not even aware of the reviews they are receiving some of which were negative. Google Places allows you to look at a summary of reviews about your business from many different sites, and for reviews left on your Places profile you actually have the ability to respond.
While local search is growing and is a very well known piece of the puzzle for search marketers it appears as though many SMBs are still not aware of the opportunities they have available to themselves.