Local Search Just Got More Social – Google Places Pages Moved to Google+

by on May 31, 2012 · 20 comments

Google+ Business Page Example

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.”

Rankings on Google+ Local: Some Observations by David Mihm
David has some great advice for businesses to cope with the changes:

  • 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.

Article by »

Don is an entrepreneur based in Silicon Valley. He founded Expand2Web and is the publisher of the Expand2Web Blog, and the GetFiveStars Customer Feedback and Reviews service.

Don has written 313 articles on Expand2Web

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

James Martell May 31, 2012 at 1:02 am

As you said with Google transforming “Over 80 Million Google Places Pages” … into “Google+ pages” goes to show — not only the scope of what’s going on — but also how this entire local strategy is still so much in the infancy stages.

It seems to me businesses who are paying attention to what you have to say — have a tremendous advantage over their competitors.

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Don Campbell May 31, 2012 at 9:50 am

Thank you James. Yes it is still the “early days” in local online marketing for small businesses. And I like this phase – never a dull moment!

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eileen lonergan May 31, 2012 at 4:31 am

Thank you so much for this article. My short term concern was if the dashboard would remain the same for entering | editing your business details, and I am happy to know that part stays the same (for the moment). I do rather like the look of the new Google+ output, the images are larger and look much more inviting. As always, thank you!

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Don Campbell May 31, 2012 at 9:52 am

Right Eileen, that was my concern too, another was what if the ranking factors changed significantly over night (luckily they did not).

I like the new look and think there is more opportunity there to promote your business, which means opportunities for the businesses that dig in and learn how to use it.

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Sunish Sebastian May 31, 2012 at 4:54 am

I think it is a good move from Google’s side and it was expected. At one point, it will come to a situation that anyone to use a simple Google Search, needs to have a Google+ account.

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Don Campbell May 31, 2012 at 2:27 pm

Very true. It’s definitely to the point where if you care about Google search results, you need a Google+ account.

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Mike May 31, 2012 at 4:59 am

It figures, I hate google+ and now I have to start using it. Google had to do it to make people use google+

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Adam June 5, 2012 at 7:18 am

I just figured this out today as well. This is incredibly annoying!

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Andy June 5, 2012 at 10:09 am

It took me ages to go through all this and set it up. I have my business page as a “publisher” with the correct markup on my website and my own G profile as the “author” with the correct markup.
So now I have to build up two separate G pages…. rather than one.
Been trying to add people to my circles today and just getting loads of errors – driving me nuts!

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Boyd Butler May 31, 2012 at 5:16 am

Don, it’s a new rule for the existing game called local search. This time it’s a major rule change, whether it’s a game changer, not sure yet. Better be like Bo Jackon, able to play lots of sports and well and keep abreast of the changes.

Of course, there’s always an opportunity for people like us to keep ahead and operate an educationa/marketing service for local business that don’t have the time or inclination to play, (but they can pay).

Gonna be setting up a googlepluspages website because this is not going away.

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Derek Carroll May 31, 2012 at 5:35 am

Looks like good news for those who help local guys get found. Thanks for the links to other related posts. This gives me some more juice to help my local clients.
Don… always keeps us up to speed. Keep up the good work.

Derel

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Joel May 31, 2012 at 8:25 am

Great article, Don. Seems to be the cutting edge on where Google is taking their local search results. What advice would you give to companies that already have a Place page as well as a Plus page? Where should the focus be currently?
Thanks!

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Laura May 31, 2012 at 9:03 am

Don, Thank you for the great article and for being so quick with it! It seems a lot of our clients have had Places Pages with many reviews so this will be a bit of a change. What a way to get people on board with Google +. : )

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Vinny O'Hare May 31, 2012 at 10:24 am

I have been expecting something like this. Once they integrate this with the “Whats Hot” on the G+ Mobile app it will hurt Foursquare and any other local mobile app.

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Steve Sharp May 31, 2012 at 10:35 am

Thanks Don, good information.

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Bob Sommers May 31, 2012 at 11:10 am

I noticed that a business now needs a minimum of 10 reviews before their score shows up. In the past it was 5 reviews before stars showed up. I do like the idea of a 0-30 scale rather than a 1-5 scale.

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Victor Sedinger June 1, 2012 at 4:39 am

Don, Thanks for the new info on the Google+ | Places shift. I signed up on Google+ several months back and still can’t get used to including it in my social internet posting routine. Sounds like I need to ramp it up in priority if I want to stay ahead of the local competition. I’m going to also check out the Small Biz WP theme. Sounds intriguing as I establish new sites for ancillary services and alternative geographical reach.

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Giant Panda June 4, 2012 at 12:21 am

Google Trying to coerce everyone to use +. I detest this since:
(a) I need to log in to review a business anymore. How can I make sure the reviews are anonymous and Google doesn’t sell the reviewers’ info to the business?
(b) Business with Google+ accounts will be more favored in searches. So much for a fair search.
What this really means is an opportunity for a new search company to topple Google – if they stick true to simplicity and fair play.

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Andy June 4, 2012 at 12:44 pm

More aggro with Google!
I have set up a business page and linked it to my site which runs on Genesis through wordpress. But I cant find a simple way of adding the badge – there doesn’t seem to be any plugins to link to a business page on google. I tried one for authorship but it doesn’t seem to work.
Anyone had any luck doing this? And to think so many people have set up and put so much time into author profiles – now you have to start over and do the same with the business profile…

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Andy June 18, 2012 at 6:17 pm

Google places was one thing and Google+ was another with distinct differences. Merging them is definitely self serving by Google and confusing for the end user… but resistance is futile.

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