Say that three times fast! Then say goodbye to Google Places, and hello to Google+ Local. This change has been speculated for a while, and this week Google finally started merging Google Places pages into a tab called “Local”” within Google+. What the heck does that mean for local businesses? Here’s the simple version of the story.
Before you worry about what this means for your business, know that your business listing in Google Places still exists. It just lives in a new home now, within Google’s social media site, Google+. If you’re not already familiar with Google+, it’s Google’s version of social media, along the lines of Facebook. As much as you might want to dismiss it as just another newfangled marketing hassle, you ought to at least consider the implications to your business. Even though it has received some early criticism, Google+ is a big priority for Google, and they’re pushing it pretty hard. You can expect it to become more and more relevant to businesses as a key part of local search.
Here’s what it looks like. In the image below, I logged in to Google+, selected the Local tab on the left, and searched for “Auto Repair” in Roseville, CA.
Let’s click on the top result shown here, which is our customer, German Auto Service. Here we can see their Google Local page. Notice it has all the same elements of the Google Places pages: a button for customers to leave a review in Google, and a button for you, the shop owner, to claim and edit the listing. Reviews that Google users have left of your shop are also shown here.
Below those, you can see where Google pulls in the link from your CustomerLink reviews, and links to your CustomerLink customer review site.
Integration with Google Maps
What if a customer searches within Google Maps? Google+ Local pages are integrated and displayed where Google Places pages used to appear. Here’s German Auto Service again, found when searching for auto repair in Roseville, CA.
If you haven’t heard of Zagat, you will be hearing more about it soon. Originally founded to gather and share consumer reviews of restaurants, Zagat was acquired by Google last year. Now they’ve integrated Zagat reviews into every business listing on Google Local. Here’s a video overview from Google/Zagat. What does this mean for other small business owners? Time will tell, but you can bet on closer integration between the old Google reviews and Zagat coming soon.
Reviews and Recommendations from Google+ Circles
Google is now connecting the dots between reviews and social media. When I search for a pizza place in downtown Sacramento, Google Local now highlights places that people I’m connected to on Google+ (people in my Circles) have given positive reviews. You can imagine what this could do for your business: the more positive reviews you have in Google, the more people will find you through their own social circles on Google+. If your business isn’t on Google+ or if you haven’t claimed your Google Places listing, now might be the time to do it.
This is looking like good news for small business owners. Of course, we’ll keep you updated as this develops!
Want more ideas to market your shop? Get new ideas every month with the Shop Marketing Manual.
You Might Also Like: