Google+ is Google’s social networking platform and until recently it was only available to individuals, providing another social network and introducing the idea of contact circles to define levels of familiarity.
Google+ for business has been launched; or rather Google Places (the page where you can list your business information) has now become Google+ Local.
The change occurred at the end of May when almost 80 million Google Places pages became 80 million Google+ Local Pages, but what has actually changed?
A summary of the major changes affecting the way Google Places has changed includes:
- Google+ Local pages are now visible when doing a Google search as well as via Google Maps and Google Mobile; this means that having an optimised Google+ Local page is even more important.
- Now when individuals access Google+ they can search for services in a local destination via a new Local Tab, presenting even greater opportunities for businesses to expose their services to Google users.
- The old Google Star Ratings have now been replaced with Zagtags, a rating system owned by Google. The Zagtags 30 point rating system is now the only place to be rewarded with ratings through Google.
- Reviews can now only be added from a Google+ account, therefore reducing anti-competitive behaviour and adding clear traceability to all reviews. This presents an un-biased solution and should ensure a level playing field for Google+ Local pages.
- Google+ Local now enables businesses to be much more social, allowing businesses to use all the same social tools found in a Google+ Profile. This includes posts, videos, photos and the ability to find and filter businesses based on the reviews and recommendations from family/ friends in your circles.
But what does this mean for businesses looking to get ahead on Google+ Local (Google Places) and how will I affect your existing rankings?
As far as we can tell at this stage there won’t be an effect. Any star ratings earned before the switch to Zagtags look to remain; the changes will only affect new reviews.
This will make it more time consuming for optimisation and the black-hat practice of using false ratings as part of a Google Places optimisation strategy will now be more difficult – certainly a good thing for ethical SEO.
We see Google+ Local as a logical progression for the search giant and this still remains one of the quickest and most cost-effective routes to page 1, yet still remains one of the most untapped opportunities for small businesses who benefit from local search.
Ascensor provide SEO Leeds and London