Leveraging the new face of Google Local

Google Local recently relaunched to become Google+ Local and Google+ Business pages. The business listing revamp aims to add more social media components to the business directory system, to allow customers and businesses to interact through the service in the form of sharing photos, comments and hangouts.

Click Through Marketing reported Google+ Local combines local SEO with public reviews and dialogue. The new service will be located at the top of Google's search results page, similar to how Google Places results were listed before. The new service makes it a bit more difficult for companies to get listed on the first page of the search results, as the list will be condensed on the first page. Thus, working with a third-party SEO specialist can help companies improve their chances of ranking high on Google search results.

In addition, Google has acquired review site Zagat, leveraging its data to populate reviews alongside the results of each search, providing customers with in-depth information and experiences from past customers. The information will include ratings on food, service and price, in an effort to improve Google's social offerings, Click Through Marketing reported.

Google+ Local users can add their friends from other Google social services such as Google+ using circles so they can share their reviews online and have others' reviews show up in search results as well. Google opted to add more social functions and capabilities to its standard search engine product to enhance the user experience and increase popularity among fickle online consumers. The move is similar to the way Bing is using Facebook and Twitter to color its search engine results. Users can receive links to photo albums, status updates and likes from their social media friends' profiles through the results page, Click Through Media reported.

According to USA Today, Google+ works better if the user and company is already a member of the social network. The quality of the local-business information for a traveler or resident is significantly more detailed and precise if they are a Google+ member and take full advantage of the social component of the offering. All of the pertinent business information in Google+ Local search results are not visible to users who are not members. Thus, companies and individuals should invest in becoming a member so as to collect more information, feedback and social interaction through the service to build a stronger search engine experience and results page.