Google+ Local Combines Google Places and Google+

Google+ Local Combines Google Places and Google+

In a move long anticipated by Local SEO’s, Google has announced the integration of Google + into their local product offerings. Google Places is now known as Google + Local and includes impressive updates to rating and review systems, user experience, and of course heavy integration of the Google + social layer.

Local information integrated across Google

As a user you’re probably excited about the improvements and updates, but as a business owner you’re probably more concerned about impressions, management, and your bottom line. Don’t worry. We get it. This isn’t just another listing, this is your livelihood. We’re here to address the concerns, answer the hard questions, and most importantly, look at opportunities in Google’s most recent rollout.

Let’s start by addressing some of what are bound to be the most common questions:

1.      How do I get on Google+ Local?

Google Places listings are automatically being converted to Google + Local listings. Your previous listing has probably already been switched over to the new design, and if it hasn’t, Google representatives say that you should see the change within the next day or two.  There are changes to how information appears and interact however, so check out our Google+ Local Search updates page for more info. We can help you make your listing pop!

2.       How do I edit my Google+ Local Listing?

From a management point of view, Google+ Local listings will remain largely the same as Google Places Listings (for now). You still log in to Google Places for Business, you see the same dashboard, and can make the same changes to your information. The main difference will be how users see and interact with your information.

3.      What happened to the star ratings?

Google has replaced their traditional five star rating system with the 30 point Zagat scale. This move is not altogether surprising after Google’s acquisition of Zagat in September of 2011. For those unfamiliar with the Zagat 30 point scale rating system, it breaks down various aspects of restaurants to keep you better informed.

Restaurants aren’t the only listings receiving the 30 point scale however. All listings now operate on a 30 point review system which helps users get a better understanding of just how good (or bad) a business really is. Restaurants receive a breakdown of food, décor, and service ratings to account for their overall rating, whereas other local businesses receive an average of all ratings on a thirty point scale, this helps to prevent the common, yet misleading average 3.5 rating that can occur with a 5 star rating system.

4.       What happened to reviews?

Reviews are now directly tied to the Google+ account of the user who wrote them, and will show their Google+ profile picture, and link to their Google+ account. A simple publishing process is required for public display of user information. In an effort to protect privacy, all previous reviews are now being shown as written by “an anonymous Googler,” until published by the user.

5.       Do I need a Google + page?

We definitely recommend that every business get a Google+ Page in addition to their Google+ Local listing. A Google+ page is free, easy to use, and can help establish a connection between you and your audience. It also serves as a citation of your business information, confirming that your address and phone number are correct.

6.       What do I do now?

Keep Calm and Boost On.  After the recent Penguin and Panda updates, this update seems like a much needed break for small businesses. Continue doing the things that help Google trust your business:

  • Keep your information consistent: Your name, address, and phone number should stay the same on (and off) the web.
  • Be thorough: Include photos, hours, descriptions and other details in your Google+ Local listing so Google and potential customers can better understand your business.

Still have questions about Google+ Local? Leave a comment below and we’ll reply, or contact us today for a Free Consultation on how to use Google + Local to better your business.

David DeMille
[email protected]