Google My Business and Google+ may be the single most important business directory/network for businesses to be on. I know that there have been quite a few disparaging stories in the media about the merits of Google+ as a social network but I think the authors of those pieces are simply unaware of the value of Google+ to promote a business.
My own viewpoint has always been that Google+ is more than “just another social network”. The more that Google tied Google+ into all of the many platforms that are a part of Google (blogger, YouTube, Hangouts, Gmail) the more that it’s value became apparent. Google+ is the glue that connects all of the parts of Google into one.
There are many different kinds of business directories on the web and they are useful for small and large businesses alike. Most of them show up on all of the search engines relatively equally. Sites like Yelp, Manta and Foursquare are some of the big winners in securing a good ranking in search results on all 3 of the big search engines (Google, Yahoo and Bing).
The only exception to this is the local listings that are owned and curated by the three big search engines (Google Places, Bing Places For Business and Yahoo Small Business). This listings are always specific to the search engine that owns them and only show up on the search results pages of their own respective search engines as well as on each search engine’s maps. In all three instances they occupy a dedicated space on the first page of search results.
A few months ago when Google merged their Google Places directory listings into Google+ all that changed. By doing that Google effectively made their own business directory listings show up in the search results of all three search engines. This is because the existing Google+ platform was seen as a social network like Facebook. Because Google is the largest site on the web and gets the most traffic any Google based platform always does well in search. Facebook is another example and as the number two site on the web it also commands great placement in search results on all three main search engines.
What Google essentially did by merging Google Places into Google+ was to allow the Google Places listings to move outside of Google search and be equally discoverable on all the search engines. It also assured good Search Engine Rank Position (SERP) because Google+ results usually rank just above or just below Facebook pages in search results on all three search engines.
This combination of social network and directory listing has resulted in top search results placement for Google My Business pages all across the web. It has also allowed Google My Business results to rank higher than results from pretty much all of the other available directories. An exception to this may be industry specific search directories where their relevance in terms of subject may give them a slight advantage.
To be fair I should mention that I have noticed Yahoo Small Business listings occasionally show up in other search results but never as prominently as Google+ results do. Of course the Google My Business Google+ pages do not show up on other search engines the same way they do on Google (in the special page 1 box) but yet it was a pretty ingenious way for Google to get their directory listings onto the search results pages all of the search engines.
I am kind of surprised that there hasn’t been more discussion on this aspect of the Google My Business listings as it does have obvious SEO benefits in terms of search engine visibility. However, I think it is quite obvious that Google My Business directory listings are the most valuable local business directory listings available for businesses on the web today.
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