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

Was this post helpful? Help others by sharing it