Google – Google Places Moved to Google+ Local

Google flexed some muscle

Google+ Local Page

Google+ Local Page

Earlier this month, with a slight flip of its hand, Google moved small businesses to its new small business platform called Google+ Local.  Like it or not, if you had a Google Places business listings, you are now part of Google+ Local.  And you should be pleased.

The move wasn’t painful as I didn’t hear a lot of roars coming from Main Street business owners.  Most probably are unaware of the changes Google made, which is not a good sign.

Many in the online world expected the move, so it wasn’t earth shattering.

But Google+ Local does matter.  Why? 

Let’s be clear.  We’re not talking about geeky, futuristic woo woo things here.  We’re talking about the ability of your small business to pull customers in the doors with a simple local business listing on Google.  This is pretty basic, yet a critical piece of the online puzzle that many small business owners just ignore.

Here are three reasons why small business owners can no longer ignore Google or Google+.

1.  The online presence of your local business is a direct reflection of you as a business owner.   It is really an extension of your store front or the visibility of your signage and it is becoming increasingly more and more important.

2.  90% of the people looking for your product or service, will see your local business listing (if you have one) on Google long before they will see you or your business.

3.  Search results are becoming more sophisticated, pulling in from multiple social media sources.  This means an increasing need for small business owners to maximize their online presence to keep ahead of local competitors.

Google+ pages and local listings are already showing up in the local searches in Google and in Google Maps.  If you’re not there, it will cost you business.  It is that simple.

You might say “I didn’t want to be part of Google+“.  Okay.  But you are now.  Google controls two-thirds of the search world and it wants to grow its presence in the social media world.  It is going to use every tool it has in its arsenal to make that happen and Google+ Local is one of those tools.

So, what do you do now? 

If you had created a Google Place page, then you may already know that Google has moved your Places page onto Google+.  You can still gain access to and edit your Places profile pages through the Places login.  Although Google may move to a Google+ profile editing at some point in the future, which will require a Google+ account.

If you already have a Google+ account, give yourself a high five.  You can find your Google+ Local listing through a local Google search or through the Local button that appears on the left side of the Google+ page.  At this stage, you’ll need to go to your Places login to make updates or enhancements, something I would strongly advise.

If you didn’t claim your Google Places business listing and don’t have a Google+ account, all I can suggest is your get with the program in order to play with Google.

For those who did have a Places page and/or a Google+ account, here are some steps to take:

Profile Clean Up.

Now is the time to clean up your profile

 

The move from Places pages to Google+ messed up a few things. You’ll probably need to edit your profile and banner images. Right now Google is either picking up photos you uploaded or simply using a map, which probably is not what you want to feature.

You may also need to spruce up your listing and check to ensure all of the links are there and working.

Check out the Zaget Reviews

Google recently purchased the restaurant rating service Zagat and intends to inject the Zagat ratings system into a new 30 point review process.

Visitors have the opportunity to rate your business using a 0-3 point scale. Zagat takes the customer scores, averages them and then translate it into a 30 point scale – from extraordinary to poor.  There is some concern around how this rating system will translate to the services of a painter or insurance agent, but you need to be aware of this rating system and figure out how to use it to your business’ best advantage.

Customer reviews from your previous page may have been messed up.  As the page owners, you have a period of time to clean this up. When you first sign into Google+ and find your page, you’ll be able to tell Google+ if you want all your photos and reviews from your Places page to be moved and be attributed to you or remain private.

Bottom Line

Try as you might, a small business owner cannot ignore Google.

You need to claim your place in the Google landscape.  Make it reflect the best of you and your business and you will be richly rewarded.

And do it NOW!

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Sheila Hibbard

Sheila simplifies marketing and social media for small business owners. She offers straight forward, no nonsense marketing guidance and techniques that produce results. She has four decades of experience in all phases of marketing including communications, research, strategy and social media. Facebook | Google+ | LinkedIn |Twitter

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