11 Jun 2012

Goodbye, Google Places … Hello, Google+ Local

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local one google plus

If you already have a business listing in Google Places, you may have noticed that it’s looking a little different lately. That’s because Google has made some recent changes (as they’ve been known to do quite frequently), and rolled the local business listings into the Google+ social media network, appropriately named Google+ Local. This move completely integrates Google’s local listings with the current Google+ social network.

What changed and what should you know about it?

All Google Places business pages have been, or are scheduled to be converted into Google+ Local pages. According to Google, they’ve already moved more than 80 million pages over to the new platform—so if you can still see your Google Place page, you won’t for long.

If you already have a Google+ Business page, it will still show up as separate from your former Google Place page. The search engine giant is working to provide local businesses with the option to merge the two into one listing, which will hopefully happen soon.

On the positive side, the new Google+ Local comes with a number of great benefits for local businesses, including:

  • An improved format. Google+ Local pages are a lot more user-friendly and easier to interact with—plus, they just look better than Google Place pages.
  • Zagat ratings. Last year, Google acquired Zagat, the most recognizable and trusted business rating system around. Now they’re capitalizing on the acquisition by placing Zagat ratings on Google+ Local pages, which holds benefits for your business.
  • Google indexing. This is the most important advantage of the switch. Unlike Google Places, all Google+ Local pages will be indexed by the search engine, so your new page will boost your search engine rankings as well as your social media connections.

So what about your business reviews?

This one is a little tricky in the beginning but will become easy as we all get used to it. For Google Places, anyone could leave a review on your page. But with Google+ Local, users have to be signed into a Google+ account to review your business. Google is porting existing reviews to the new pages—but if they weren’t left with a Google+ account, the reviewer name shows up as “A Google user.”

What should you do now?

For most businesses, there is no need to do anything at this point. Just hurry up and wait. Your business listing details should already be showing up in Google+ Local.

Here’s how to check:

  • Head over to Google+
  • Click on the “Local” icon in the left-hand navigation menu
  • At the top of the screen, enter your business name and location, then click “Search”

You should see everything on your new Google+ Local listing page that you are accustomed to seeing in your Google Places page including reviews, descriptions, pictures, etc.

Even if you see the “Manage this page” button and you know that you or someone is managing the page for you, don’t worry. Google says they are still working this one out.

Google+ Local Business pages are currently being managed through the existing Google Places portal that they always have. While Google has stated that eventually that too will change, for now one need not worry.

Did Rankings Change?

For those business locations with that are correctly claimed, accurate, and optimized, it doesn’t appear as though much has changed.

It is a good idea to keep actively managing your business listing including building new citations and ensuring that existing citations are accurate and consistent with your new Google+ profile as well as continuing to encourage your customers to review your business via Google+.

Be sure to link to your new Google+ Local page from your website, and if you have an email marketing list, ask all your subscribers with Gmail accounts to add you or “+1” your page.

Remember, Google+ is a social network as well as a promotional listing—so the more active you are, the higher your business will rank in local searches.

Embrace the changes, and enjoy your new Google+ Local page!

Want to read more about the new changes?

 

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