Changes in Online Reviews, Google+, Local SEO
We previously updated you on Google's recent change from "Places" pages to "Google+ Local" pages. Although this change may not immediately appear to significantly change your search engine results, Google has taken a major step in bridging the gap between search engine optimization and social media marketing (Google+).
Changes in Reviews and Ratings
One major change is that your clients can no longer post reviews on your Places page, but rather on your Google+ Local page. Both required reviewers to have an account with Google, but the difference is they now must have a Google+ account.
The important thing to keep in mind, Google+ users now have a significant influence on search results, particularly your local listings. Not only can they post reviews, they can also "+1" your listings and join your circles and help build your local online community and popularity.
Why Push Google+ Now?
The initial response from many skeptics is "Google+ will not overtake or even compete with Facebook in the social media realm," or "Most of our customers don't have a Google+ account." This is actually good for the early adopter marketers.
Since the Google+ community is still small (in comparison to Facebook) and early in its evolution, each Google+ user at this time has much more value, and their support of your practice has much greater impact now than later when Google+ numbers grow.
This also means that you can impact your results faster today than after the market gets flooded and diluted in the future.
Unlike before, you must do more than just claim your Google Places Business Listing and add a few pictures. You will need to start participating:
- Claim and optimize your Google+ Local page – Even if you claimed your Places page earlier, you will need to find and confirm your Google+ page (or pages) is secured, consistent and optimized.
- Set up your personal Google+ account – If you don't have one, this is a must. And start growing your circles with friends, family, customers and business associates, and get them participating/supporting your Google+ Local page.
- Start proactively soliciting your satisfied clients to post Google+ reviews – Even if they don't have an account, you may help facilitate some to acquire one. One suggestion is to set up a review station in your office (iPad). Google announced that it will accept multiple reviews from the same IP address.
- Link to your Google+ Local Page – Definitely set up a link from your practice website, but also link to it from your blog(s) and other online profiles and social media.
- Gmail Marketing – Target your marketing to your list of gmail contacts and let them know about your Google+ Local Page with a link and let them know how they can help you, such as "+1" your page or add you to their circles.
In addition to these preliminary, but important steps, it is important to also implement proven local SEO strategies. These initial steps alone will not get you dominant 1st-page Google exposure.
~ By Bill Fukui, Chief Operating Officer