Google+ Local. It’s the (somewhat) new kid in town, having re-invented its old self (otherwise known as Google Places) and transformed into this even-more-connected cool thing that small businesses need to pay attention to.
So what is it, and why, exactly, does it matter? Let’s get to it.
Q: What is Google+ Local?
A: According to Google’s official page on it, “Google+ Local helps users discover and share places.” Those places are, essentially, businesses like yours and ours — both online and those with storefronts. It’s integrated with Zagat’s scoring system, meaning people can leave ratings and reviews (and not stars, but deeper, more meaningful reviews). Because it’s part of the Google+ social network, users can see which people in their own “circles” have used a particular business and what the person’s experience was like. Google is all about creating a social experience for users and delivering relevant results. This is another (huge) step in achieving these goals.
Q: I had a Google Places page already. What happened to it?
A: Your Google Places page likely transformed into a Google+ Local page sometime over the summer. The good news? You should be finding the new Local page to be much more user friendly and aesthetically pleasing than the old Places page. (It looks a lot like Facebook business pages.)
Q: I never had a Google Places page, and I’m not too keen on creating this Google+ Local page thing either. Why should I?
A: Unlike Google Places pages, Google+ Local pages are indexed in Google, meaning they WILL show up in search results, and quite possibly for strong keyword phrases, if you optimize your page properly. Think of it as a second website of sorts. You want your business website to rank well in the search engine results pages (SERPs) for specific keyword phrases, right? You’ll want the same for your Google+ Local page as well.
Q: Okay, okay. So what do I have to do to get started?
A: If you didn’t have a Google Places page and you’re essentially claiming your listing, simply follow Google’s helpful step-by-step tutorial on creating your Google+ Local page.
Q: What if I’m not sure if I had a Google Places page?
A: No problem — follow the steps in the above link. If a listing has already been created, it will come up.
Q: I do indeed have the new Google+ Local page, but I haven’t done much with it, and now I’m worried about how search engine optimization will affect things. What should I do first?
A: First, don’t panic! There’s a good chance you’re naturally using important keyword phrases on your page. The thing you need to remember is that, just like your website, you’re going to need to monitor this page and SEO will be an ongoing task. Check out this article for helpful tips (complete with screen shots!) on optimizing your Google+ Local page.
Q: Do you have any other resources that you recommend I check out?
A: We sure do! Here’s a list of some helpful articles:
- From Search Engine Land: “Google Places Is Over, Company Makes Google+ The Center of Gravity for Local Search“
- From Small Business Trends: “What Google+ Local Pages Means to Your Business“
Update: On October 17th, Google has published “5 Characteristics of a Healthy Local Google+ Page” where they list common mistakes businesses make with their listings. We highly recommend reading that post!