Google is the most popular search engine on the planet, and it should be at the top of your list when it comes to digital marketing. Google Places for Business, the directory listing of businesses that displays photos, reviews and important facts about your business such as contact information and hours, has now transformed into Google+ Local. So what is this new change all about and what does it mean for you?
Google announced this decision, which was implemented at the end of May, as a “simple way to discover and share local information featuring Zagat scores and recommendations from people you trust in Google+.”
Google+Local is integrated into Search, Maps and mobile and available as a new tab in Google+, thus creating “one simple experience across Google.”
Let’s take a look at what Google+ Local is all about.
What’s the difference between Google Places and Google+Local?
The Local pages are more like company Facebook pages and interact with Google Maps, Zagat reviews and Google+, and the Local pages will also be indexed by search engines, whereas the Google Places pages were not.
Benefits for Google+ Members
Now we also know that Google+ users can get the most from Google+ local so if you’re already using G+, you’re a step ahead. You may have even already noticed the extra tab on your dashboard. Let’s look at what it can do for you:
- Zagat ratings and scores are excellent benefits to Google+ members who can now view ratings for restaurants and see a score for each along with their location.
- Google+Local also provides valuable information such as website links and addresses, along with a summary of the business.
- While some of their competitors have criticized Google for emphasizing its own products, a Google representative says, “We’re trying to provide you with the most useful local results, which our users tell us includes a mix of local business websites, reviews and maps. Google Local-business websites are often the top answers to a query, and we haven’t changed the way we link to reviews by Google users. We work hard to provide useful results, because the great thing about the openness of the Web is that if people don’t like our answers, they can easily switch to any other website.”
- For travelers who are searching for nearby attractions, Google+Local can detect your location and provide recommendations for just about every type of business you can think of.
- See what your friends and contacts think about a specific business or location. Want to check out a new restaurant? See what your friends think about it first.
Benefits of Google+Local for Businesses
Now on the flip side of the users, Google+ Local is also good for businesses. If you’re not yet listed, here are some reasons why you want to be:
- The biggest benefit of Google+Local for businesses by far is that your business has the ability to be found by many more people in the local area when they conduct a Google search.
- A Google Maps listing is a huge benefit with your business appearing in a relevant search. You have the ability to influence the information shared with potential clients, including your address, directions and hours of operation.
- If you manage your listing correctly, you’ll be able to influence what people searching for your type of business find in organic search results which can have a direct positive effect on search engine optimization.
- If you have a strong local page that includes all pertinent business information as well as high user engagement, you can increase your page’s ranking in the local search result. Engaging your customers and keeping the content fresh is crucial and is now even more important with Google+Local.
- Google+Local listings have inherent advantages over other business profile pages, and the listings are optimized when they’re displayed in Google search results.
It’s fully integrated with Google Maps so you can find places, ratings and even pin them on the map or get driving directions from your location. It’s usable on your smartphone and puts a wealth of information right into the palm of your hand. If you’re traveling, it tracks your location and lets you know restaurants, hotels and facilities in your area.
Mobile, search, and Google+ integration combined with user reviews and scoring makes Google+Local the ultimate platform for social media marketing for businesses. There is already tremendous value for most businesses (especially if Google+ usership is at the proper saturation point in your area), but the real promise is in growth. Online relationship marketing works best when the platforms you’re on are still growing. New users are searching for connections, and the users who adopted early are the ones that they find.
Of course you’ll want to make sure that your customers are going to have positive things to say when they talk about your business online. A truly social business makes addressing customer complaints with tangible change the primary focus of their online PR efforts. Social innovators address complaints before they even happen, by listening to customers before they visit your establishment, searching out their opinions on other businesses, and putting themselves in the customer’s shoes from time to time. Take care of deficiencies before customers are exposed to them. Preventing a negative review is much easier than addressing it after the fact. Something as simple as restocking the mini-bar or replacing a trash bag can be the difference in a gushing review and verbal assault.
Are you on Google+Local yet? If you have a physical business address, you certainly need to be.