Just as you started to get used to how Google Places works, Google has made yet another change to their social network. Recently they replaced Google Places with Google+ Local, which now shows your company with a Google+ profile instead of the old Google Places listing. This change may be a good thing for you or it could hurt your company, depending on what action you take.
Google is obviously trying to promote their young social network site as much as possible to rival Facebook, Twitter and, the newest competition, Pinterest. Whether your business works with architectural precast concrete or handmade wedding dresses, here are some ways to make Google+ work for you.
Ratings and Ranking Will Now Change
By switching over to Google+ Local, most of the prime local search real estate will go to local businesses. This is not a radical change from the old Google Places, but it could turn some of the SEO strategies upside down. It won’t matter if searchers are logged into Google or not, if they search for something likely to have a physical premise, the results will contain many Google+ Local profiles.
For example, searching for a term such as “restaurants” will bring up many of the top profiles because of this change. It may not happen with a search that is a bit more obscure, such as “precast wall panels,” but if the words used in the search are more than likely associated with a physical business location, the Google+ Local results will rank very high.
Businesses are now rated on a scale from 0 to 30, which comes as no surprise after Google purchased the Zagat ranking system. Customers can review them openly on their Google+ Local profile and score the company from 0-30, along with providing a written review. This allows searchers to see the company’s rating and they can access the written reviews with just a click of a button.
How to Use these Changes to Your Advantage
As a local business, you can no longer go without a Google+ Local profile. With this profile, you can gain quite a bit of power and rank very high. The key is to continually provide excellent products and services to your customers. As you gain reviews, you ranking will change. The better your reviews are, the better your score and the higher you are likely to rank.
This has been a long time coming and Google Places was just the start of it. Only time will tell if it will last, but for now, if you want to drive foot traffic to your local business, you need a Google+ Local profile with excellent customer reviews.