If Your Business Already Had a Verified Google Places Page:
Google+ Local pages are generated automatically for any business that had a prior Google Places page. As of right now, you should still manage your listing through the Google Places platform.
However, if you do not have a Google+ account, you should setup an account in order to really take your listing to the next level.
If Your Business Did Not Have a Verified Google Places Page:
If you did not have a verified Google Places page, you can still claim your company listing via the Google Places platform. If you did not have a page at all, you can also setup a Google+ Local page by signing up to Google’s social networking site, Google+ (or Google Plus).
Either way, be sure to complete your listing as much as possible for the best results; use your real address and a local phone number, fill out all fields, carefully incorporate targeted keywords in the “description,” and upload as many pictures as possible to fully optimize your listing.
Once your page is verified, start using the many tools located within Google+ that will eventually be responsible for helping you gain even more exposure. This includes joining circles, encouraging your customers to leave reviews, posting updates about your business, and more.
Google+ Local Features
There are several powerful features that have been introduced with the new Google+ Local pages and all are aimed at making life easier for business owners when it comes to enhancing their online presence. Not only that, but these features make it simple for users to rate businesses, recommend businesses, and find businesses who have what they are looking for.
Here’s more information about how you can get involved with Google+ local to grow your business and an overview of some of its features:
Google+ Local Tab
Google+ now offers a “Local” tab on sidebar. This tab will take users to the Google+ Local platform, which is where they can search for local businesses. When they click on a listing, they will be taken to that business’ Google+ Local page where they will have access to information such as photos, Zagat scores and summaries, reviews, and contact information.
The New Zagat Scoring System
Google acquired Zagat in September 2011, which allowed them to bring more than 35,000 reviews and scores across 100 countries to the Google+ community. The latest “Local” effort is a year in the making, according to Google.
Now, users can make smart decisions when it comes to choosing local businesses. Zagat provides a summary of user reviews and an extensive scoring system that helps consumers make decisions based on several factors.
Each and every Google+ Local page will have Zagat scores and summaries. The scores appearing on the pages will be based on a scale of 30 points, which represents average scores of individual scores by different reviewers. There is a summary at the top of the pages, which is an aggregation of highlights collected from different reviews by users.
Zagat’s Google+ Local Scores
All scores in Google+ Local are determined by user reviews; these individual user ratings are based on a point scale from 0-3:
* 3 = Excellent
* 2 = Very Good
* 1 = Good
* 0 = Poor to Fair
These ratings are then averaged and multiplied by 10 to get an average score:
* 26-30 = Extraordinary to Perfect
* 21-25 = Very Good to Excellent
* 16-20 = Good to Very Good
* 10-15 = Fair to Good
* 0-9 = Poor to Fair
One of the most powerful features of Google+ Local is its built-in customer review and new Zagat scoring system; traditional advertising methods such as the Yellow Pages book can’t come close to offering consumers with helpful information such as this.
This technology helps consumers make the best decisions when it comes to choosing local businesses. For instance, a restaurant may have excellent food, but their service is not good. So you may see that the Zagat score is 26 for “Food” and “8 for Service.” Depending on why the user may be looking for a restaurant, the scoring system will help them make the best choice.
For businesses that depend heavily on pictures to market their products and services, the deal just got better with Google+ Local pages. Google+ Local allows users to post larger images with a much more visual approach. It is therefore easier to showcase your business and rest assured that your audience sees your business just as you would like them to see it.
Ranking and Indexing
Search engines will index all the Google+ Local pages, which is a new door to more opportunities for many businesses because Google Places pages were never indexed. Businesses with multiple locations and/or optimized pages will enjoy the benefits of this feature.
Google+ Local Pages are now inherently social and the rankings on Google are now using social signals. So this means that any review on Google+ Local will work positively towards a higher ranking on the Google search engine.
This makes Google+ Local a vital part of every business’s online marketing campaign. For those businesses that want to really capitalize on this amazing tool, the more socialization, the better.
The main reason Google merged/replaced Google Places with Google+ Local is to give businesses a chance to utilize social content, which is more effective than just showing users the business name, address, and phone number. Instead, users can interact with businesses on a more personal level and vice versa.
Visitors are now able to +1 local business pages. This is an important feature because it affects the appearance of your page in search results. When someone gives your business page a +1, your page will appear in different Google products to the user’s friends. Google has simply turned word of mouth into a digital powerhouse. Everyone knows that there is no stronger marketing method than your customers’ word of mouth.
Google has also included maps in Google+ Local pages. This will allow your customers to familiarize themselves with the location of your business and make it easy for them to find your physical store upon demand.
What Does All of This Mean to Your Prospects and Customers?
Finding the best places to go for local products and services is an essential part of our daily lives. No longer do we pick up the Yellow Pages book to find local businesses; most people flock to the internet first.