A few years ago, Google introduced “Maps” into its listings, and began showing localized listings for businesses in its organic results, in an attempt to give searchers a better and more useful result when they searched for certain things that Google believed that they would prefer local results for. This attempt was to not only provide listings that would be close by, but also provide information on how to get there, as Google attempted to become more relevant in the actual, physical world. The idea was to have Google be used all the way through the customer experience, from finding the business that you were searching for, to physically driving to it and shopping, all the way to providing feedback to other users after you have finished shopping. Maps became more and more relevant, and the integration of testimonials and reviews into the maps listings became a local seo bonanza. Search engine optimization companies realized quickly that it was very easy to get their clients positioned within the top ten maps results, and they shifted strategy to concentrate on the listings.
Google morphed maps into Google+, and then added a social media capacity in that it expanded Google+ into a Facebook-like platform, focusing on the personal Google+ pages. The added functionality of communication between members, video conferencing, information sharing and other features created a situation where a personal profile became integrated into the business listings that drove the maps sections, and Google realized that a person who runs a business is probably just as likely to share information about it as a business page itself. With this joining of the business and personal pages, Google realized that they could now institute a new form of rankings triggers, the social aspect of business.
Google+ now consists of personal and business pages, and they must be integrated into your website at this point in order to fully utilize the spaces at your disposal if rankings are to be gained. The business page is integrated into your website by the inclusion of a “publisher” tag, which gives Google the ability to understand that this particular page is the official page associated with this business. Several forms of verification also are necessary, from phone verification through a call or text to a physical post card being deployed to the address. This cuts down on fraudulent listings of businesses in places where they are not physically located.
The personal page is integrated into the website through a meta-tag called “author.” This association gives Google the ability to understand the actual person who claims to have written the content on the website page. Google can then determine the weight of the actual website content through analysis of other associated content on the personal page. People who are experts in a field will generally be involved with others in that field, or will be utilizing the internet to understand that field better. Google uses the “usage patterns” of the personal page to decide if this particular person is an expert author of the information on the website that they are writing about. As a result, business owners can no longer simply create a business page and remain anonymous, if they want the added values that Google is giving to others who choose to be more public.
Good SEO will utilize the website, Google+ business listing and the personal page of the owner or author in order to make Google understand that this is an authority page and relevant information to this industry. The rewards will be higher rankings and possibly even visual bonuses like a picture integrated directly into the organic results, calling out your business listing against all the other simple text listings.