There have been a lot of changes at Google lately. The recent search algorithm updates have definitely changed how people searching on the web see results and find exactly what they’re looking for; this latest Google announcement is no different.
Earlier today, Google announced the merging of Google Places into a new aspect of Google+ called Google+ Local. Over 80 million Google Places pages have already been automatically converted to the new Google+ Local format, and more will follow.
The new format is much more user-friendly and will help your business be represented in a more powerful way. Of course, as with any change, you probably have some questions.
What does this Google+ Local announcement mean for your business?
The new Google+ Local listings are a way for you to begin to manage your local business listing with Google in a more meaningful way. Many industry experts believe that this will help solve some of the issues with listings needing to be reclaimed or corrected as often due to inaccurate information.
Is it going to be more work for you?
Not at all. If you are an iMarket Solutions client with ongoing SEO services, we will continue to manage your Google+ Local page just as we have with your Google Places listing. If you do not have ongoing SEO or are not an iMarket Solutions client, contact us to learn more about how we can help!
If you like to be hands-on with your local presence on Google, you can continue to manage your Google+ Local page through your normal Google Places login. Google does recommend that you create a Google+ Business page as they will soon release a way to connect the Business page with the Google+ Local listing. iMarket Solutions will be working on this process for our SEO clients.
Will I lose my reviews?
Your reviews will be migrated over to your Google+ Local page. The reviews will be attributed to “A Google User” until the owners of the reviews verify their old reviews can be attributed to their identity on Google+ Local. The good news is that Google will ask users to do this now that Google+ Local is rolled out.
Google will now be incorporating the 30-point review system created by ZAGAT (which Google acquired in September 2011). Reviews will be moving away from the star system to this new scoring system.
Will I lose my photos?
The photos that were part of your Google Places listing will remain part of your Google+ Local page. If you have user-uploaded photos, they will be migrated the same way as reviews.
Does this change how potential customers find my business in Google?
Your potential customers will be able to search for your local business as normal, and their experience will remain consistent whether they are searching in Google, or on Google+, Google Maps, or through mobile apps.
Other changes to expect…
- You will be able to develop followers and interact with them through posts and messages on your Google+ Local page.
- The new Google+ Local page is more visually interesting with photos and reviews given a more prominent location.
- A new “Local” tab has been added for Google+ users making it easier to find local businesses like yours.
- Google+ Local pages will be integrated throughout all Google search properties.
- Users will have a more personalized experience with the integration of Google+ Circles to help highlight businesses that their friends and family have recommended. This means if you have a customer who has recommended you, their online connections will be more likely to see your business in a search for services you provide!
Overall, the migration of Google Places to Google+ Local appears to be a positive change for local business owners like you. Please do contact us with any questions about Google+ Local, or your overall SEO strategy for your website. We are happy to help!
For more information on the Google Places change to Google+ Local, we recommend Search Engine Land as a fantastic source of up-to-the-minute information!