Google made some major changes today that affect local businesses in a big way. Over 80 Million Google Places Pages were just transformed into Google+ pages.
The Local SEO community is buzzing about these changes. Here are some articles that do an excellent job describing what has changed, and the impact so far.
Google Places Is Over, Company Makes Google+ The Center Of Gravity For Local Search by Greg Sterling
Greg provides a great overview of the changes, including screen shots with comparisons of old (Google Places) and new (Google+ Local) pages.
Google Places Pages Are No More – But What has Changed? by Mike Blumenthal
Mike (aka professor maps) gives his expert opinion on the changes he sees so far, and sums it up nicely:
“While the display of the page has changed, many other parts of the local ecosystem at Google have remained the same. Google Places is composed of three parts; the business listing display, a backend management tool and a ranking system.
This change essentially moves the location of the business listing display, gives a business more control over the visuals and allows for more segmented social activity around reviews. However the current backend, the Places Dashboard will remain the primary location for input.”
- Keep plowing full-speed ahead with your traditional Local SEO campaigns just as before
- Make sure that you claim both your Plus and Place pages
- Get your Plus page linked persistently from your website (much like your NAP info)
- Get a small amount of Google+ activity going immediately
- Message all existing customers with an @gmail.com address that you’re on Plus & you’d appreciate a follow
- Feather in some additional Google+ activity over time
Helping people discover and share local businesses with Google+ on the Google Blog.
This is Google’s announcement, and it provides links to some businesses Google+ pages that have been fully upgraded to the new format so you can see what completed pages look like.
The Net Net…
So far the consensus seems to be that this is more of a user interface change, not an algorithm change. Rankings have not been affected dramatically, yet…
Keep moving forward with your tried and true local seo efforts, but explore the new social interactions that Google+ Local Pages are enabling.
Update: Mike Blumenthal has published a very good Google+ Local Q&A here.
There are many other great write-ups appearing this evening. I’m still researching this and will share any practical tips that I find. Let me know if you’ve got anything to add in the comments below.
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