If you are a small business owner and have yet to become familiar with Google+, now is the time. (And I don’t think you really have a choice if you care about your web presence).
Earlier this month Google+ converted over 80 million Google Places pages to what is now Google+ Local. Google+ Local are new business profile listings that integrate with Google’s social network Google+. Users can access Google+ Local pages by Search, Maps or via the new tab in your Google+ account.
Updates and changes can still made in the Google Places for Business management console since it remains the same (for now). Reviews have been migrated, however if the reviewer did not go through the verification process, they will show as “a Google user”. Moving forward, in order for anyone to leave a review of your business, they will need to have a Google+ account.
If you already have a Google+ business page, there will be the option to merge your business page with your Google+ Local page in the future. And this is where things change quite a bit and ultimately force you to become a Google+ user. Because they are being merged, it is assumed the interaction on a page will be considered in ranking local search results. What does that mean for you? Business owners will need to interact more frequently on their Google+ pages! On a positive note, when they are merged, business owners will have one central place to manage their Google presence.
The new Google+ Local pages also integrate with Zagat, the restaurant and reviews site acquired by Google last year. Users can evaluate local businesses with their Zagat scores and recommendations. And because these new business profiles are integrated with Google+, users will be able to see people in their circles who have visited the local business and view their reviews. If the local business is not a restaurant, the rating will be a single number indicating quality on the 0-30 scale.
Why To Google+ Local?
The new Google+ profiles have been described as user-friendly, dynamic, more attractive than Facebook, and easier to interact with. They are essentially designed to be easier for business owners to socially interact with their customers.
What about SEO?
Google+ Local pages are indexed and show in search results where the old Places pages did not. So this means it is very important for you to optimize your page for better visibility.
This change has a huge impact on local search marketing and requires you to adjust your attention. Of course, if at any time you need any assistance, I am here to help!
If you would like more information or have more questions, please refer to this post in Understanding Google Places and Local Search.