High visibility in the Google+Local results can win you as many customers as you’d like.

Because visibility there is free, it can also save you huge chunks of advertising dough.

But even many business owners who know about local Google and try to get visible there don’t actually profit from it. Either they fall prey to common myths, or they don’t know the specific circumstances under which visibility in local Google can actually bring in real, breathing customers versus when it won’t.

Here’s when Google+Local can be either worthless or profitable to you:

Worthless Situation 1: Seeing your business in Google’s local search results only when you search for it by name.

Profitable Situation 1: Seeing your business in Google when you type in your services or other terms that most people use to search locally, like “roofing” or “roofer Ft. Lauderdale” (for example).

Explanation: Unless you’re Wal-Mart, it’s not enough to be visible only when people specifically look for you by name. You’re not worried about reaching the people who already know about you and exactly how to find you. Your potential new customers usually search broadly — just to see how many and what kinds of businesses in the area seem to offer what they’re looking for. Those are the people you’re trying to get visible to.

Worthless Situation 2: Having your business listed on the 2nd or 3rd page of the Google+Local search results.

Profitable Situation 2: Being listed on the 1st page of the Google+Local search results — among the top-7.

Explanation: Most people won’t dig past the most prominent businesses — the ones listed on the first page. In the newspaper, do you think most people are more likely to read the front-page story, or the little op-ed piece on E4? You want your business to be as visible as the front-page story — which means page 1 must be the goal.

Worthless Situation 3: Having a Google+Local listing but no website.

Profitable Situation 3: A Google listing that encourages visitors to go to your website and discover more about how they’ll benefit from what you offer.

Explanation: If you don’t have a website, people can’t learn nearly as much about what you offer — or why they should fork over for it. They’ll also wonder why you don’t have a site. Most of all, if they go to your site, that means you’ve won their attention for a couple of minutes, which means you’ve got a golden opportunity to impress them. But if you don’t have a site and people can only visit your Google page, you’re giving them only two choices: call you immediately or leave your listing. Probably 90% of the time they’ll leave, never to return. A good website is the best way to turn more casual browsers or “maybes” into real clients.

Worthless Situation 4: Trying to get visible in cities that are more than a few miles away, just because you think they might be profitable markets.

Profitable Situation 4: Making sure you get highly visible in YOUR immediate area first, and then using other means — like Google AdWords and/or “organic” SEO — to get visible in farther-away areas you’re not as visible in.

Explanation: Location matters in local Google. They’re called the local search results for a reason. Your first task is to outrank your competitors in your city. You can get visible in other cities, but that depends on a lot of factors, particularly how many competitors are located there. Generally, businesses can’t get visible in the Google+Local results more than 5-10 miles away from their location. Very roughly speaking. If your business is the only one of its kind within 20 miles, you’ll probably have good local rankings in many nearby towns. But if there are 3 other services like yours right on your street, then the battleground is much smaller geographically — and therefore much more competitive. Go after your home turf first.

If you apply these suggestions, you’ll be ahead of a solid 95% of your competitors — both in terms of creating real visibility to people who search locally for your services, and in terms of turning those people into real clients.

Thanks to Phil Rozek for this great piece. Learn more about Phil and his expertise at www.localvisibilitysystem.com