With the recent transition from Google Places to Google+ Local, many practices are confused on just how to manage their local presence on Google, and what steps they need to follow so that they can properly control the new Google+ Local page, and ensure the accuracy of their listings, specials and user reviews.
I have to state that this recent migration from Google Places to Google+ Local seems like a rushed attempt to push Google+ into businesses and make the new social network more relevant, and it does seem to have some serious bugs that should have been worked out before launch.
That being said, we’ve tried to compile some tips on managing the new pages based on some of the Frequently Asked Questions we’ve received from clients about Google+ Local, and the former Google Places.
General Information About Google+ Local:
- All Google Places listings were migrated to Google+ Local on May 30, 2012
- Business owners and their representatives can, for the most part, manage their Google+ Local listings using the Google Places for Business dashboard (there are some issues at this time). Likely this will migrate to a Google+ interface in the future.
- Google+ Brand Pages, which existed before the Google+ Local migration, are still available as a separate product. A Brand page represents the business entity while the Local page represents that business location. So for example, The Gap might have a Brand page for the company as a whole and Local pages for each of it’s store locations. We expect Google will link Brand pages to Local pages at some point in the near future, however this has not yet been established.
- The transition to Google+ Local signals a shift in Google’s attitude from the search algorithm to the social network. We expect that social activity around your Google+ Local page will eventually do more to boost it’s ranking than any other factor. Soon businesses should be able to post status updates to their Local pages: already those pages include many opportunities for user input and offer business owners the ability to respond to user reviews.
- The process for claiming a Google+ Local listing appears to be the same now as it was with Google Places, even making use of the same Google Places interface. That process was already tied to your personal Google account and will likely make greater use of Google+ features in the near future.
Listing Issues with Google+ Local
- A technical glitch related to the Google+ Local transition has caused some locations to become unavailable and to display the message “We Currently Do Not Support This Location.” This problem can be fixed in some cases by recreating the business listing in Google MapMaker as described in this post on the Blumenthal blog.
- The “Owner Verified” tag that was a prominent feature of Google Places does not appear in Google+ Local listings (for now) however, business owners and their representatives can still manage listings in the Google Places interface, either by going directly to Google Places for Business or by clicking links in the Local listing such as “Is this your business? Manage this page” in the right-hand column of the main Local page for the business.
Google+ Local Reviews
Google+ Local listings now feature the more detailed Zagat ratings instead of star ratings. This applies to all types of businesses, not just retaurants. (Google acquired Zagat in 2011, and now features the Zagat 30 point scale, instead of the traditional 5 star rating.
Google describes the Zagat scoring system breakdown as follows:
Individual user scores are based on a 0-to-3 point scale.
2 Very good
0 Poor to fair
The averaged scores are calculated on a 30-point scale based on user reviews.
The 30-point scores breaks downs in the following manner:
26-30 Extraordinary to perfection
21-25 Very good to excellent
16-20 Good to very good
11-15 Fair to good
0-10 Poor to fair
Reviews are now limited to Google users only. Existing reviews will be attributed to “A Google User” unless the user has linked their Google+ identity to their reviews. This should help to drive more people to the Google+ platform, and ensures that reviews will not be posted anonomously.
Aside from the inherent bugs that are currently present in Google+ Local / Google Places, this should be a good opportunity for business owners to refresh their local presence on Google, add images, specials, more descriptive text, and share their company events, blog posts and other information in a more social manner.
If your practice is struggling with the new format, hopefully these tips can help. If you need more assistance, please contact us and our local marketing experts will analyze your current situation and provide a suggested plan of attack to help you get these listings working correctly for your practice.