What is Google+ Local?Google+ Local is a reviews and ratings site that allows people to rate hotels, nightlife, shopping locations, zoos, music, movies, theatres, golf courses, and even airlines. In September 2011, Zagat was acquired by Google to flesh out Google’s Local service. It has since become tightly integrated with Google+ to become Google+ Local. Google+ Local has also adopted Zagat’s original ratings system. Instead of 5 star ratings, ratings are now out of 30 points. Users will get to rate from 0-3. The system takes that score, multiplies it by ten, and averages the scores to get an overall rating. There are three categories users will be able to rate: Food, Décor, and Service. Users can also enter an average cost per person for the venue. Google+ Local also takes advantage of Google’s search engine technology to create unique summary reviews that are displayed at the top so users don’t have to read through hundreds of reviews just to get a general understanding of the venue. These summary reviews are generated by taking recurring phrases and words, and mashing them together into a cohesive paragraph.
Users will have the option to follow Google+ Local business pages, +1 the pages, and participate in “Events” and “Hangouts” through Google+. As Local is now integrated with Google+, users will need to access Google+ Local directly from their Google+ account. This forces people who want to use Google+ Local to create a Google+ account and to remain an active member. A feature that takes advantage of this requirement is that reviews submitted by a user’s friends will appear on top of all other reviews. So that’s a nice customized touch that makes reviews more relevant and engaging to the user. It also makes the experience more social.
Why is Google+ Local good for you?
As a retailer, it’s a very good idea to get a Google+ Business Page as well as a Google+ Profile Page. Google will let you merge the two pages together so you will be able to manage your business communications and interact with your fans and followers—kind of like a Facebook page. And much like a Facebook page, Google+ Local allows business owners to connect directly with their fans and followers. Google+ Local will give you an online presence even if you don’t have a website. Since these pages are shown prominently on Google Search, businesses can really target searchers and encourage them to visit and/or to make a purchase. Having a Google+ Local page will help drive people to your physical location due to the tight integration with Google Search and Google Maps. People will be able to search for your business, see the reviews, and get directions to your location all in just a few clicks. A mobile-optimized interface will encourage more people to visit your business as “85% of mobile users seek local information on their smartphone, and 81% take action using the local content” and “43% of all Google searches have a local intent” [via Google Stats]. That is a lot of people that you now have access to!
8 Steps to Getting Set up on Google+ LocalHow to claim your Google+ Local page. The people at Dynamic eMarketing give pretty good instructions:
- Search for your business on Google with your business phone number
- Click on the link that says “Google+ Page” (or “Google reviews” if people have already written reviews) located below the description of the business
- When you’re ready to claim your page, click on “Manage this page” on the bottom of the right column
- You’ll be taken to a page with three options. Select “Edit my business information”.
- Fill out your business information as much as possible. The more information you put in, the better it is for your business. Include images, videos, and description of your services.
- You will then be prompted to validate your listing via three methods: phone, SMS, and postcard.
- Phone and SMS would be the fastest and easiest ways to go.
- You’ll then receive a notification with a pin to enter into an input box. This Google+ Local page is now yours.
6 Ways to Get the Most Out of Google+ Local
- Add extra information like photos, promotions, and fresh relevant content to make your listing stand out.
- Add keywords to your business description to increase SEO (the likelihood that your website will be seen on search engines like Google)
- Encourage customers to leave reviews to drive customer engagement and improve the validity of your business
- Create a listing for each of your physical locations to increase visibility and drive foot traffic to all of your locations
- Respond to positive and negative reviews to increase customer trust
- Generate positive reviews by asking happy customers face-to-face to leave you a review online—create a positive image for your business!