We recently reported on the change from Google Places to Google+ Local. For a while after its introduction, it wasn’t of that much consequence to the average user, from a functional perspective. Being a primarily superficial shift to strengthen the Google+ brand.
But as the social integration becomes more in-depth and increasingly effective SEO methods present themselves, the potential opportunities for local businesses trying to gain some web visibility have gained a lot of prominence.
The integration of the Zagat review system (a company recently acquired by Google) into the Business Listings review section, has been getting quite a lot of attention. Replacing the old out-of-five-stars system with a multiple sets of measures that rate elements of the business individually. The measurements also change from industry to industry.
And as it’s being merged with their social network, result priority is given to those in your circles. So if you’re thinking of eating at specific restaurant, you’ll be able to see your friends’ and family’s reviews first.
Google+ Profile or Business Listing
A lot of businesses have been wondering if they should abandon their Google+ business profile and just focus on the content in their listing as a means of social media communication. Google’s official word is to keep and maintain both separately. There may even be SEO rewards in the future for those with both.
Businesses that don’t have a listing, or perhaps don’t own their listing, may want to change that before it becomes an operating standard. It’s important for an marketing strategy, to control your communications channels. Getting reviews is still a slow process. By listing yourself, you will be open for reviews, which at the moment is the primary ranking factor.
Of course, listing a business runs its own risks. Negative reviews will suddenly have a larger audience than they ever have and will be effectively permanent. Negative SEO and other unethical practices are also a very strong possibility.
There have been some talks from Google about possibly, in the future, structuring the G+ Local rankings around the number of followers and how active they are on these pages, which may put smaller businesses, or businesses in countries with less engagement, at a disadvantage.
Google+’s social search option and the rise social signals importance in indexing algorithms have been subject to quite a lot of hype. The business opportunities for this channel are now on par with Twitter and Facebook. Having content on these channels is essential to an effective web presence.
The more a business works on the value of their content today, the more it will show in the rankings as Google Search Plus Your World develops more in the future.
Make Google+ Local Part of Your Marketing Strategy
Social media campaigns are quickly becoming a fixture in any marketing campaign. The potential effectiveness of these is still under debate though, and many are calling it a waste of time.
But as this merges the concept of mapping, social media and directory listings, its ability to target certain customers geographically and dynamically interact with your existing client base is undeniable. Plus the listing can be added to your domain and provide interactive content that would otherwise be very difficult to design.
Maintaining a consistent message in these channels and responding to interactions in a timely manner requires a formal dedication to these types of campaigns. Simply putting it together and forgetting about it isn’t enough, your business listing should become as important as your website as a conversion tool.