Last week, Google blew our minds once again (they’re on a roll) by transferring all Google Places information over to Google+ Local. Say goodbye to Google’s golden stars that represented the rating of an establishment; now Google is leveraging Zagat, purchased last year, to unveil any given business’s quality based on a 30-point scale.
But I already have a Google+ Business Page
Right now, the Google+ Local page for a specific brand is a separate entity from the Google+ business page. Hopefully you have been active as a brand, updating your page with status updates, creating Circles, etc. When these two platforms merge, you will already have experience with the social features that are bound to make Google+ Local a refreshing, interactive experience for users.
I had previously claimed my Google Places location(s). Will I have to start over again?
Nope. Right now you can still access these pages through the Places interface. The “Manage this page” call to action in the middle right column of each new Local page directs users to the familiar Places login.
The majority of my consumers aren’t even on Google+
And it might stay that way. Try as they might, Google can’t force anyone to join its social network. Not yet, at least. Currently you do not have to be signed in to Google+ in order to see the information provided. However, we have good reason to speculate that this curveball Google has so artfully thrown might cause the number of Google+ members to spike.
I haven’t even claimed a location on Google Places
For now, Google is encouraging business owners to find their location on Google+ Local and log into Places to claim, manage, and update each account. We at Evolve set ours up (filled out the nitty-gritty details, uploaded some images, etc.). Turns out, it can take about a week for your Google+ business page to transition from dull to lively, but we’re hoping the Evolve page debuts its transformation sooner rather than later.
You don’t really have a choice
If you decide to ignore this recent revolution in Google’s interface, take heed: failure to participate in Google+ Local can eventually harm your success in the SERPs. Unlike Google Places, Google+ Local pages will be indexed, meaning they’ll actually show up in organic search results... if you do as you’re told.
So we have to wonder: will people continue to visit websites? After all, Google is turning Google+ Local into interactive hubs for businesses. Here visitors will grasp what other people are saying about a particular business. They’ll be able to peek at images of the interior, review parking information, and eventually interact with the owners. It’s too early to know for sure, but in a world that strives to maximize efficiency, speed, and user experience, it is a possibility worth speculating. Google+ Local is also encouraging business owners to publish posts within the interface. These allow the owners or managers to announce news, specials, or simply showcase images a ultimately replacing… *ahem* …Facebook. Just take a look at the handful of brands that Google has been working with exclusively to build out their Google+ Local pages. This evident stride in the Local Search arena is exciting for businesses that have excellent rapport and customer interaction. Google is making it as easy as possible for users to review, recommend, and find business establishments that fit their needs. Now if only Google could get more people to give a crap about its social network.