So Google finally released the new Local + yesterday. No surprises here for us local SEO’ers. Now even though this is a major change, DO NOT panic! So far rankings seem very similar and you will still manage your information via your Google Places Dashboard.
Google has said: “If you are a business owner, you should continue to manage your information in Google Places for Business. You’ll still be able to verify your basic listing data, make updates, and respond to reviews. For those who use AdWords Express, your ads will operate as normal as they’ll automatically redirect people to the destination you selected, or your current listing.”
From my initial look, the only real difference so far, is your clients and customers can’t leave reviews anymore on your Google Places page. If they want to leave a review for you then you must do so via your new Local + Page. Ditto on photos (not that anyone cares too much about that), but you can only add photos now to via Local + and not via Google Places anymore. Now this will probably change, as I am sure Google will allow more things to happen with it’s Google + network.
List of Things I’ve Noted About The New Local + Pages:
- Reviewers will be marked as “Google user” unless they mark their reviews as public
- If you mark your reviews as public your reviews may be shown above un-public reviews (watch for a future review algo to appear that is based on power users – it’s a author trust rank theory applied to reviewers).
- Even if your business does not have a Google Plus account or Google Plus Page, (as long as your business has a claimed Google Places Page) you can respond to reviews. If you still haven’t claimed your Places Page yet – what in the world are you waiting for!
- Public can only post photos to a + Local Page (can’t anymore via Google Places)
- Google Places still shows reviews, but now in the new Zagat format (it’s based off this method)
- People cannot leave anonymous reviews (to leave a review you must join Google +, however you can choose to not share your review publicly). Hmm… sounds like Google is leveraging small businesses to spread Google + to the masses. Very sneaky.
- Organic searches (Universal Search) leads to Google Places Pages (if you click on reviews)
- Places nav (left side navigation of Google) still leads to old Google Places Pages
- Google Maps (top navigation in Google) leads you to new + Local Pages
- If you click on any of the related places businesses in a Google Places Page it goes to a new + Local Page
- It looks like if you set-up a brand new listing in Google Places it auto creates a + Local Page
- Looks like + Local Pages will be indexed (start building links to your + Local Pages! )
- You cannot add videos (currently) to your Google Places Page nor + Local Pages
- Google Plus Pages are not (currently) associated with + Local Pages
- How you will manage multiple + Local Pages for multi-location businesses is still not yet clear…?
- No anaytics provide for + Local Pages (I am unsure if data is shown in the existing Google Places Analytics – My guess, is probably not)
Local Plus Pages Summary
There is still a lot of questions unanswered and I am assuming this is just phase one of the new Local + pages. I assume that eventually they will get rid of Places Pages and force all businesses to use and manage their info via the + local platform. I also expect + Pages to integrate with + Local Pages. I assume Google’s plan is to use businesses to help get people to join their social network of Google +. I also assume that this will allow businesses have the ability to provide a much richer experience to the public and their customers via their Local + Pages. At the end of the day, there is ONLY one thing guaranteed with Google and that is: CHANGE. If you are small business owner, then get ready for more changes to come!
Some Other Note-able Blog Posts Worth Reading About the New ‘+ Local Pages’:
Be sure to let us know your thoughts about the new + Local pages in the comment section below. Let us know what you noted, like, don’t like, questions or any thoughts about this new release of Local Plus Pages. Oh! and if you hate what Google is doing, then go and leave them a review on their new + Local Page.