Once Google+ finally introduced Pages for business, it was only a matter of time before the old Google Places feature got a makeover to keep up with the changes. Google’s answer is to replace the nearly 80 million Places pages with the new Google+ Local pages.
These new Local pages are much more dynamic than the static Place pages. They give businesses another medium for reaching out and communicating with customers much in the same way as Facebook.
What does this mean for you, the already-busy small business owner? You're going to have to get familiar with Google+. But if you take the time to learn the platform, you will see more positive results and reap the rewards. Another big plus for businesses is that the new Local pages are going to be indexed, meaning a huge increase in SEO potential for your company.
What Are the Biggest Changes?
There is a new “Local” tab within your Google+ page. From this tab, users will be given recommendations based, not just on their location, but on their circles and other people’s reviews.
The look of the new Local pages is much more visually appealing than the old Places pages. The layout allows users to easily find even more information than before. Businesses will be able to grow a following and communicate with them through messaging.
In place of the old star ratings, Google+ Local is implementing a 30-point Zagat rating scale. These new scores will help to differentiate each aspect of a business instead of giving a single rating to cover all things.
The new Local pages will also be integrated throughout Google’s other properties, including search results and Maps. This means even more content and information is made available to users whether they do a search in Google Maps or a standard search query.
Making the Move to Google+ Local
Moving your old business content that was originally in Google Places onto Google+ Local can be done easily. As you start to upload photos or reviews into Google Local, you will be asked what you want to do with the old pictures and reviews. You can either choose to keep some or all of your content private or select to move all of the content and have it linked to your Google+ name.
Why You Should Make the Move
You might feel that you already have your hands full with keeping up with your other social networks, including Facebook and Twitter. But let’s face it: Google is going to be around as a mega power on the Internet for a very long time. Dedicating at least some of your time spent on social marketing on your Google+ account is going to prove very beneficial to your company, so why fight it?
Google+ has been created, it seems, with the small business owner in mind. The transition from Places to Local pages is an improvement that is going to help give users even more information about your company in more places. Not only will you be broadening your reach, but you’ll gain just one more platform on which to interact with current and future customers.
John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and author of Duct Tape Marketing and The Referral Engine and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.
Photo credit: Google+