Search engine giant Google recently stepped up its efforts to win a bigger portion of the social media pie by introducing Google+ Local. Essentially, Google+ Local is the result of blending two of its existing products, Google Places (their local business directory) and Google+ (their increasingly popular social media platform which has grown to over 250 million users in the last 12 months).
The new, shiny Google+ Local directory is still being rolled out and will eventually replace Google Places in providing more comprehensive local business listings. If you are an existing Google Places user, many of the existing content from your page will be moved to your new Local+ account, including any reviews of your business.
Integrated with Google+, the new platform is an unashamedly clever ploy to attract more users by providing features which give consumers the opportunity to recommend local businesses via their Google+ account.
Get Ready for Customer Ratings
The Google owned Zagat rating and feedback system is an essential part of the new Google+ Local platform – providing customers the tools to rate their experiences with businesses they frequent. This means that any business can now be rated by consumers, not just hospitality services such as hotels and restaurants. This alone is a potential game changer and taking steps to manage your online reputation is critical.
Bringing Local Search Closer
Additionally, new Google+ Local provides a more dynamic experience, enabling greater customisation of your business listing. Once a company has claimed their page, they can add images, information and videos for a more personable, interactive online customer experience.
Combining Local Search and Social Influence
There is little doubt the Google search engine algorithm has begun to assign more authority to ‘social proof’ (giving credence to how much content is mentioned and linked to across social networks), so you can be sure that your Zagat feedback scores will have an effect on your search rankings too.
Just as we have experienced with Facebook Pages for business, expect to see a number of innovative features enabling business users to successfully connect with consumers in a variety of clever ways and over a range of devices. With this in mind, the time to take action is now. If you would like help getting Google+ Local working for you, or whether you want to take steps to better manage your online reputation, get in touch with Xanthos today.