If you’ve been perusing the Search Marketing blogosphere, you no doubt heard the big news from Google today. If not, we’re here to give you the skinny on Google+ Local. What it means for you, how to prepare, and how this will change the local scene forever.
Long story short: Say goodbye to Google Places, and say hello to Google+ Local. It’s long been rumoured that Google would soon integrate the two, creating a more social experience for local search. So, what’s included in the update?
First, you can still access and manage your business in the Google Places LBC, and all of the user-generated content that exists there currently will be pulled over, e.g. reviews and photos. The content will display as coming from “A Google User” until you migrate them from your old Places page to Google+ Local.
You’ll also have the ability to decide which user content displays publicly and what remains privately attributed to “A Google User.”
Next, you may have read way back in September 2011 that Google acquired Zagat, the local reviews juggernaut. Now we all know why. Not only will Zagat’s reviews be brought over to Google+ Local, but their trusted 30-point rating system will now replace the measly 5 star system used in Places. This will enable users to provide a more personal experience than the previous system, with the ability to rate specific aspects such as food, atmosphere, and service.
OpenTable has also been integrated into the listing, where users can reserve a table directly from applicable Google+ Local business pages.
Another big change is that Google+ Local Pages will be indexed, according to Search Engine Land.
From a user standpoint, the new pages provide a much more social experience. They’ll be able to search for business reviews made by those within their circles, which adds much more trust than those from faceless strangers.
What does all this mean for the small business owner? It will place even more importance on having a clean Google+ page that is consistent across the board, and well-integrated with your site using authorship markup. Google+ Local makes reviews and photos more integral than ever before.
All these changes are allowing Google to get a much needed leg up over Facebook, Twitter, and Yelp. The “Local” tab will appear in your Google+ business page, and all of the listings will be available across Google organic search, maps, mobile, and Google+. For now the mobile look has already come to the Android phones but iPhone users will be able to start seeing these changes as soon as it’s approved by Apple.
If there’s one thing you should take out of this post it’s this: If you don’t have a Google+ page for your business yet, you better get to work ASAP. For a quick and easy guide on how to best create one, download our ebook.
This blog was written in collaboration with Tina Hua.
Posted on Wednesday, May 30th, 2012
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