Google Places Merges With Google Plus
Just when you thought you were getting a handle on marketing your practice through your Google Places listing, Google has changed the playing field.
A couple days ago, Google rolled out Google+ Local, which integrates, or actually replaces, Google Places. Overnight, millions of Google Places pages were replaced by Google+ Local pages, making it the focus of Local search marketing.
Why the Change?
Places pages were limited in their ability to allow businesses to regularly communicate with customers and potential clients. Google+ Local pages are more dynamic, and give Google a local marketing vehicle with more visual appeal and functionality.
And of course, by requiring millions of merchant participants to set up a Google+ account, Google continues to push its major agenda-- to grow its social media audience.
In addition to substituting Places pages with Google+ Local pages, there were other changes as well:
- Google's modified its review system. Google's 5-star review rating system has been replaced by Zagat's 30-point rating scale. Not surprising considering Google bought Zagat in September.
- Google Properties, like Maps and Google Maps for mobile (Android) also integrates Google+ Local.
- Google added a "Local" tab within Google+ (see red tab in left column above). Using a two-search box approach, Google offers Google + users highly refined Local search results.
Probably the most important change will be that these new Google+ Local pages will most likely be indexed, unlike previous Places pages, but time will quickly tell.
It is becoming more and more difficult for practices to ignore or avoid participating in social media to market your practice. Gone are the days that your website alone will be sufficient to grow your online leads and business.
Bottom line: Local search engine marketing has just become a lot more social with Google+ Local. This has tremendous SEO potential. Your practice will need to embrace these changes. The practices that do will capture the lion's share of the opportunities.
If you are looking for more information on setting up and managing your Google+ Local page, Google offers online support information. This includes:
- Creating and editing a Google+ Local Page
- Editing and adding information
- Adding people to your circles
- Promoting your Google+ page
For more immediate assistance and a FREE analysis of your website and Google marketing options, pleasereply with an email, or call us at 800-916-3886.
~ By Bill Fukui, Chief Operating Officer