The New Google Plus Local
Posted on June 3, 2012 by Rebecca Deitch - Internet Marketing Specialist
Many of you may have noticed that your Google Places page looks different. The reason for this is a few weeks ago Google introduced Google+ Local and got rid of its Places page! This transition may be jarring, but it will be a benefit your business once Google has completed the transition. There are many new features and benefits to this new business page, ranging from the look and feel to social media integration and exciting changes to the customer reviews offering.
One of the biggest changes to the business profiles on Google is the look and feel of the pages themselves. It no longer has the drab look and feel of the old page, but rather a more imaged-based look. The design currently includes two tabs, but in a few weeks will have a total of four tabs. Right now you have the “About” tab, which contains your business’ information and reviews, and the “Photos” tab, which houses all of your photo albums. One thing you will notice on the business profile page is only two of your categories are showing. Not to fear, however, because when you click on the categories the other three categories are still there. Some social media-savvy consumers may feel like this looks quite a bit like Facebook and I couldn’t agree more. Google has given its business pages a design inspired heavily by social media platforms such as Google+ and Facebook.
When the change was first announced, Google stated that the Google + Local page would function as a “social media search engine.” What this means is that there are now social media is not integrated with the business section of the page. The social media part of the Google page won’t be launching for about five more weeks, so here is a preview of what’s to come: Essentially they have merged the Place page with the social media platform Google+. While Google + does not currently have an audience that can compete with Facebook’s personal social media sites, once they launch this part of the business page there will be heavy traffic as consumers use Google+ to interact with businesses.
The two tabs that are missing on your page right now are the posts tab and the video tab (the video uploading feature is down, but as always Google is working on it). The posts tab functions similarly to the Facebook posts feature. You or your friends can post information and media on your page. This is also a great place to post videos, pictures or just get your customer base involved. Also you will be able to join circles or groups with your fellow small business acquaintances. This is a great way for you to get advice about your small business or your trade. Another feature for those of you who run a restaurant is the use of Open Table. This is a program that allows customers to make reservations with just a click of a button. As you can see there are many great ways for you to become in engaged with your customers.
A big change to the listing itself is that the page is now indexed with Google. This means that the listing is registered with Google and can be found on Google organic (front page search results), Google Maps and Google + Local. This gives you more opportunities to be found when someone is looking for your services. This enhancement is a big reason why you want to make your page stand out from the rest.
Finally a big change to the page is how the reviews are rated. As some of you may have noticed the stars are no longer on your listing, but instead there is a number in a red box or a number / number. The reviews are now rated on a 0-30 scale and are only Google reviews. Google will no longer be pulling third-party reviews from sites like Yelp, Superpages, Merchant Circle. Instead, they will only be showing reviews made on their end. In order to leave a review now the person must have a Google + account in order to leave a comment. Ratings for those of you who run restaurants will be based off the Zagat ratings scale. This is also measured on a 0-30 scale and is the number in the red box. To view your reviews go to the “About” tab, where your business’ information can be found. The reviews take up a significant chunk of real estate, covering half the page, which is why it’s so important for you to get customers to leave positive feedback about your business.
Customer engagement is an essential part of running a successful business and with a Google+ Local page, you have the opportunity to do so. If you have any questions about the new page, feel free to contact your VMC!
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