You may not have realized major changes are coming to your Google Local Listings. Google Places has moved to the new Google+ Local platform.
First, let’s recap on just what is a local listing on Google? Google local listings, formerly known as Google Places, show up when a user searches for something that has local intent. If you were to search on Google, for “uniform rentals”, you would get a result that looks like this (note the little red balloons, and plotted map locations).
This is a local listing, and they play a huge role in a local, small businesses page 1 organic search presence.
The best part is that local listings are FREE to claim and optimize. All you need to do is claim it as the owner to further optimize it. Note, that if you have not already claimed or created your local listing chances are that Google has created one for your business anyway. Oftentimes, these can contain incorrect information about your business. So, our advice would be to claim yours today. Google recently created an area where local, small & medium sized business can get started with “local optimization” for their place of business and website. This is called “Google My Business” and creating a Google+ Local page is part of this “package”.Please visit www.google.com/business/ for more information. If you are already active on Google Places/Google+ Local you will have access to the new Google My Business dashboard automatically.
So, what is so new and exciting about Google + Local? First, we would be remiss if we did not mention it is one more step in Google attempting to get users to Google+. The Google+ channel as a whole has grown leaps and bounds and can really help boost organic rank for any business when you factor in Google+ Local, Google+ personal profiles and Authorship and of course Google+ business pages.
In fact, most all Google Places pages have been migrated to the Google+ Local Verified Business Pages by now. The trick is to take advantage of all the features the new Google+ Local page offers. Such as:
- You can post to your Google+ Local page (blog articles, photos, etc…) like any social media channel. This is the primary benefit.
- The Google+ Local channel is branded now. This means the URL will contain your company name. This is another great way to get your business name to show up on page 1 of search results when someone Google’s your business. Google decides when it wants to turn this on, you have no control over it.
- Ratings & reviews are still given prominent placement, but as a business owner it is easier to respond to them (negative or positive).
- You can upload more pictures and even videos.
- It provides analytics (insightful data) of how your page is performing.
There are a few things to also keep in mind when going through the Google Places to Google+ Local merge process.
- You still need to mange BOTH Google Places and Google+ Local for now.
- These two listings will, for now, need to remain separate because of the need for maps API integration with satellites & navigation.
- You will still need to verify (by phone or postcard) your new Google + Local listing to activate it.
- You must frequently check your local listing information as at times, other info on the web from channels like DexKnows.com can overwrite it and provide incorrect information to users. We have seen this happen, regardless if an owner claims a listing or not.
Here is an example of a well-optimized Google+ Local page for the Hotel Texas. You will see how they have a great cover photo, profile image and re posting frequently to the page.
Bottom line? If you are a local business, you really need to jump on Google+ Local. It can visibly boost your company’s presence on page 1 of search results. Go Local!