If you’ve been ignoring Google+ in your inbound marketing efforts, now may be the time to get on board. Google announced last week it had started converting pages in its local SEO platform, Google Places, to Google+ Local pages. The move coincides with Google+ adding a “Local” tab to its left-hand sidebar.
Google Places was a dominant player in the local SEO world and it certainly demanded the attention of local businesses, trends that will likely continue with its movement to Google+. This means small businesses everywhere need to take steps to learn how to optimize their local listing with Google following the change.
The logical first step is to acquaint yourself with the way Google+ users (and Google searchers) will view your listing in its new home. Users can search for a particular place or browse through categories of places. When they click on a business, they’ll be directed the business’ place page, which displays all of information typical of a local listing (address, contact information, a map, etc.). Search inquiries for a given place will also include anything members of your Google+ circles have posted about it.
An additional feature unique to Google+ Local is a Zagat score displayed prominently on each listing. Zagat asks visitors to rate businesses on a scale of 0-3 in various categories (product, decor, staff) and then aggregates the scores, spitting out an overall ranking for each category on a 30-point scale. Zagat also pulls out highlights from user comments and features cost information on each listing.
If you already had a strong Google Places page, fear not—all the information has already been transferred to your Google+ Local page. Additionally, you can (and should for now, according to Google) make changes to your listing via your Google Places page. In other words, you’ll still need to verify whether or not your Google Places listing needs to show the address for your place of business, among other things.
But will be the new Google+ page, not the Google Places one, that will show up in Google Search and Google Maps results pages. This is the first step in totally transferring Google’s business pages to Google+.
Do you think Google+ Local presents a better platform for small businesses? Will it encourage you to use Google+ more frequently? Let us know in the comments section below.