In a continued effort to promote their social network Google Plus, Google has made a major change in the local market. Google Places Pages are being replaced by Google Plus Local Google continues to make moves in both local search and social, and migrating Places to Plus was bound to happen eventually.
What are the changes that you need to be aware of?
1) If you had a Google Places Page, it will automatically convert to Google Plus Local.
2) Google Plus Local looks a little different than Google Places, but not much. Here’s a before and after:
Google Places (Before)
Google Plus Local (After)
3) The “Write a Review” button is big and blue and right below the pictures.
4) Unfortunately, you have to have a G+ account to write a review. Because most people don’t have G+ accounts, it might be tougher to get reviews. However, the best part about that is there will be less anonymous (and potentially harmful) reviews.
5) Any previous reviews will likely be from “A Google User”. To get a name to go along with the review, the user who wrote the review needs to create (or log into) a Google Plus account and verify that they in fact did write that review. Will users be willing to do this? That’s tough to say, especially if they wrote some bad reviews and wish to remain mostly anonymous.
6) The star rating is completely gone. Instead, there’s a scoring system from 0-30. Each reviewer will rate the Local company from 0-3, and once google gets 10+ reviews, they’ll take the average rating and multiply that by 10. It sure seems like the 0-5 star system was more intuitive, so I wonder how long this 0-30 system will last.
Moving forward, what do you need to do?
1) Find your Google Plus Local listing. You’ll have to log into (or create) a G+ account to do this. Once you log-in, on the left-hand side of your G+ dashboard, you’ll see options for Home, Profile, Explore, Hangouts, Photos, Circles, Local, and More. Click on Local. Then up top, to the right of the Google+ logo, search for your business. Right click the business name link in blue, copy the shortcut, and you’ll have your Google Plus Local Page.
2) With that new Google Plus Local URL, continue to ask for reviews.
3) Try not to get frustrated. There will be bugs. Reviews may disappear. Your listing may disappear. Your listing may say you do carpet cleaning when instead you do maid services. Google is far less than perfect with local, especially when these changes happen. And they have zero customer service, so sometimes you’ll want to swear and then completely swear off Google forever. But just be patient, in time the bugs will work out.
4) Continue best practices. Make sure all of your listings throughout the web match (same phone number, same address, same url, etc). Generate quality reviews. Generate quality on-page content. Write in your blog. Stay active on social. Make sure your site is search friendly.
And if you need help with your local listing and your rankings, feel free to contact us.