When google introduced Google + and Google + business pages around a year ago it was only a matter of time before local search was integrated as well. Well that day is today and as of this morning Google have migrated over 80 million google places accounts over to Google plus local pages.
Local search is one of the most effective ways for small businesses to get customers from the internet and so this change has huge implications. At the moment this change is only US centric but expect it to hit the UK imminently.
As with everything to do with Google and local search, it is very complicated, unpredictable and transient, especially in times of change such as now. I’m not going to waste any time trying to figure out exactly what’s happening because everything is in a state of flux. I’ll let it settle down before writing any kind of new guide. Here’s a few things that we do know so far and a couple of tips for you so that the transition of your existing places page to the new format goes smoothly.
There is no longer a button to leave a review in your places page. You have to now visit your Google plus page and you will find a new tab on the left labelled ‘Local’
Hitting that new link will take you through to the new screen and this is where you can now discover businesses in your local area.
If you now click on any of the featured businesses you are taken to their new business page which looks like this
I have to say it’s a lot nicer looking than the old Google places page and you will now notice the ‘Write a review’ button, this is where people can leave a review.
There is now a new scoring system in place that looks like this
This is from Google’s recent acquisition of Zagat and looks to be a lot more comprehensive.
Grab your business page now
One thing is for sure and that is you need to at least claim your Google + business page
It’s clear that social media, SEO and Content marketing are all being tied in together and the only way you will be able to rank well is to optimise in all of these areas. I hope to have a full guide out very soon!