Last week, we covered Google’s announcement of the new Google+ Local, a review and recommendation service designed to connect people with local businesses.
Google+ Local builds on the features of Google Places, and that’s why – if you’re a business owner and current Places user – you can continue to verify and manage all your listings and information using Google Places for Business. But Google+ Local comes with a different name for a reason: there’s a set of new updates that has been added to the service. Hopefully, with this essential guide to Google+ Local, you’ll be able to keep up with what’s new and stay ahead of the competition.
Google+ Local integrates Zagat scores
Zagat is one of the oldest and most reliable sources of review information about restaurants, nightspots, cafes, hotels, tourist spots, and small businesses. As part of Zagat’s acquisition by Google in September of last year, Zagat’s user-generated reviews and ratings are now integrated into the Google+ Local service.
This means that your Google+ Local page can now rated by users on a scale of 0-3. The user-generated scores are then multiplied by 10 to produce an aggregated score of 0-30, which represents a Google+ Local rating scale inspired specifically by Zagat’s expressive 30-point scoring system.
Not only does the Zagat scale provide more precise, detailed, and explanatory ratings (compared to the usual five-star ratings that you’ll find on Yelp and other review sites); it also allows you and your customers to share more information about specific aspects of your business, such as décor, food, service, cost/pricing, etc. Of course, to get the most out of this information, you have to regularly and thoroughly track reviews of your business.
Simpler, streamlined layout and design
As you’ll soon find out, your Google+ Local page will look a lot like a personal Google+ page. Your business information (address, map location, directions, phone number, etc.) and reviews are placed front and center of your page. The design is also meant to better highlight photos of your business, products, and services – thus making your listing come to life.
If you haven’t yet uploaded your own photos to your Google Places or Google+ Local page, we highly recommend that you do so as soon as possible. Make sure they’re high-resolution shots (taken by a pro, preferably); trust us – these will go a long way in helping your page stand out as well as in establishing your credibility and professionalism.
More focus on search and social
Google is known for the capabilities of its powerful search engine. Recently, however, it has also ramped up on efforts to push Google+, its very own social network. You’ll see this blend of search + social on Google+ Local.
Whenever users search for your business (with a desktop computer, laptop, or Android mobile device) on Google Search or Google Maps, they’ll end up discovering your Google+ Local page as part of their search results.
Meanwhile, if friends from these users’ social networks (or “circles” as Google calls them) have checked into, written reviews about, or taken photos of your business, your Google+ Local page will also appear on a dedicated section of the users’ personal Google+ pages – this time, as part of their social network or circles’ activity.
Personalized recommendations and reviews from experts
When you start to manage and monitor online reviews of your business on Google+ Local, you’ll notice that your page may highlight personalized recommendations from local experts and top reviewers. Individual personal users of Google+ will see these recommendations, too, when they first click on the new Google+ Local tab on the left side of their pages.
The higher your Google+ Local / Zagat scores, the more likely it is for your page to appear as a recommended place in your area. That’s why – as you get started with Google+ Local – it’s critical for your business to continue tracking reviews, actively responding to what customers say, and finding ways to generate more positive reviews.