Google+ Local Pages Replaces Google Places
What’s This All About?
If you’ve ever searched on Google and noticed a little map pointer icon next to a listing, you’ve already seen Google Places listings. Google Places listings look like the following.
Over time, these “Places” listings were integrated with normal searches, quickly becoming a bigger and bigger part of search results. Now, nearly every localized query (ie: Calgary Pet Stores) will trigger Google Places results and also many that aren’t localized.
Meanwhile, Google also launched Google+, their social media platform, and gave businesses the ability to claim pages. But Google+ and Google Places remained separate entities – until now.
Ready Or Not… Here They Go!
Think your business isn’t on Google+? Well it is now! Google has automatically replaced all “Google Places” pages with new Google+ Local pages worldwide. Even if your Google Places page wasn’t claimed, the change to Google+ Local pages has taken place without you. The Google+ Local website describes the new interface as a place to “discover great places through reviews and photos from people through their network.”
What has changed?
Google Places had limitations on how business owners could communicate with customers & prospects, however Google+ Local Pages are much more social, similar to Twitter & Facebook. The new format will enable businesses to develop followers and message them directly. By integrating local search, reviews, and social sharing, Google+ enables more customer interaction.
In the past, Google Places was the platform where businesses could sign up, verify their business and be found on Google Maps.
Google Places pages used to look like this:
Here’s the look of the new layout of Google+ pages:
Beyond the obvious design updates, here are some more specific changes you should be aware of:
- Integration of Google+ Local pages across other Google properties such as search, maps, mobile. This makes having a carefully pruned presence on the platform even more valuable!
- Replacement of the traditional 5 star review system with Zagat’s reviews, which are based on a more comprehensive 30 point rating scale
- Integration of a “circles” filter to find reviews/recommendations from friends/family/colleagues
- Users will be able to access the new Google+ Local pages through a search on Google.com or Google maps, in mobile apps or through a search on Google+
- Early indications show that engagement on the Google+ platform can lead to better rankings within normal organic search!
What could this mean for your business?
Overall, Google’s goal is to enhance the consumer experience with richer pages of content where people can search, review and easily interact with merchants. Consumers won’t be forced to use Google+ to get the new content, but if they want to leave a review or connect with a business they have to be on the platform. And if you want to respond or follow up with your customers or manage what is being said about your business, you’ll have to be on the platform as well.
In addition, Google is now enabling Google+ Local pages to be indexed independently, meaning greater SEO potential and more potential traffic to your business if you are taking advantage of the platform.
It’s a serious development that could make a Google+ presence essential for businesses, so if you aren’t already on the Google+, now would be a good time to get familiar with the platform. Given Google’s massive push to integrate Google+ across all of their products, it doesn’t look to be going away anytime soon.
How do I manage my Google+ Local page?
All of your basic company information should be already transferred over to the new platform. You can manage your information via Google Places for Business, which will enable you to verify your listing, make any updates, and respond to reviews. And if you are using Google Adwords Express, your ads will continue as normal.
If you already have a Google+ business page, you should still continue to maintain it, but at some point Google will be merging Google+ business pages with your Local page.
Need Help with Google+?
If you need help getting familiar with the Google+ platform or need more help understanding what this change means for you, feel free to reach out to us for more information or visit https://plus.google.com/up/accounts/upgrade/?continue=https://plus.google.com/local&gpsrc=lolnd