Google+ Local = Game Changer

Google+ Local = Game Changer

Content Writer: Matt Rowe Matt Rowe Chief Technical Officer
It’s the update heard ‘round the world. Not content to just hop in the pool, Google has done the virtual cannonball into the Local/Mobile/Social movement.

The big splash hit the web Wednesday morning and rippled quickly via social media: “Google Places” is going away, and “Google+ Local” is taking over.

What it means, is exactly what it sounds like: Google+… plus Local.

For users, it’s an enhancement of the Smartphone app they use to update a status, pass along interesting news, and catch up with friends in their Circles. Those users can now search for businesses and receive recommendations based on location, past check-ins and reviews, and even those people in their Circles. They can also read Zagat summaries of reviews (for free, now), publish their own reviews and photos (like they might have done on Yelp, for instance), and find reviews by their friends and other trusted contacts in their Circles. For the user, Google+ Local combines Social, Local and Mobile – in one convenient, unified platform on Android (and coming soon to iOS).

So, one might ask as a business owner, “Okay, great… enhanced functionality. That’s great for users… now what’s in it for me? And where is that Google Places page I claimed now?”

That Google Places page is still there… it’s just better. Businesses will still maintain control over their listings in Google Places for Business, and upgrades to more easily manage those listings will continue to arrive in the coming months. All your basic information will still be there, but the improved organization of the page will put more focus on reviews and photos, to create a better, more interactive experience for the user. A simple search on Google or Google Maps will bring up a business listing, just as it has before. However, additional information like hours, reviews and photos will also be included, without additional back-and-forth navigation in a browser.

Simply put, this one-stop shopping not only makes it easier for users, thought leaders and decision makers to discover what’s around them… it makes it easier for those users to discover YOU. The best part is, it only starts with those users. Their pictures and reviews go into the streams of their Circles – the people whom they influence, and who influence them – instantly expanding your reach to more potential customers.

Those reviews will also carry more weight, with Google’s integration of Zagat’s prestigious 30-point scale, which covers mutliple aspects of the consumer experience – food, décor and service. Those rankings will be accompanied by a summary of real user reviews. Anonymous reviews will disappear, as Google+ users will have the option of moving their previous Google Places reviews to the new platform, or pick and choose to keep some or all reviews private.

And this week only marks the beginning of the opportunity for your business to better connect with your consumer on the Google+ Local platform. Google promises more in the coming weeks and months. If your business isn’t currently managing its Google+ Local page, there is probably no better time than now.

Jump on in. The water’s fine, and the party is just getting started.

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