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What Does The Google Places Integration With Google+ Mean For Your Business?

At the end of May Google integrated all of its Google Places pages into Google+ under the guise of the new update to their social media site called Google+ Local. What this means is that all of their Places listings have been changed into a Google+ Local page and Google+ users have had a ‘Local’ tab added to the list of Google+ options in the left hand column of the site. For the 2 million businesses that have already claimed their Google Places listing1 this means that they can now easily link their business listing with their Google+ Business Page if they have one and it allows users of Google+ to search for their business on the site that will show them their friends’ reviews and recommendations. The other change to Google’s business listings is that they have integrated Zagat ratings into their pages, which allow consumers to give businesses a score out of 30 that is prominently displayed on the business’ listing.

Of course, the majority of customers that will find your Google+ Local business page will come from Google Search and Maps. Now, when a search is made for a local business, the rich snippets for individual businesses will direct users to the new Google+ Local page just the same as it used to go to the Google Places listing before the update. The difference now will be that, if the user is logged in to their Google Profile, the search results will prioritize any results that include reviews or ratings made by people in their Google Circles. All of this is in line with the general trend towards integrating services at Google to be tailored to giving the individual user the best possible experience. The integration also makes having a Google+ Business Page more attractive as it can now be closely linked to the Google+ Local page to create a free online marketing platform. This also means that it will probably be a good idea to create a Google+ Business Page, if you haven’t already.

The integration of Zagat with Google’s business listings has been expected since the search engine giant acquired the restaurant review site in 20112 and it adds to the user friendliness of the Google+ Local pages. While the actual Zagat scores are restricted to the restaurants and cafes that are listed the scoring system has been applied to all of the pages that have been transferred, giving the reviews a practical grading system that won’t just average out to a constant 3.5 out of 5. Google hasn’t perfected this integration yet and, with promises of more updates to come, this will undoubtedly be one of the areas that Google works hard to improve.

If your business has already claimed its Google Places listing then all of your details will have been transferred to the new page automatically at the end of May. Because the new configuration offers so much more scope for businesses to promote themselves it will be a good idea to go over your Google+ Local page to make sure that the move didn’t make any major changes to your listing. It will also be an opportunity to add any new features that are being regularly included to your listing and to make certain that it is as up to date as possible. If you haven’t claimed your Google+ Local business listing then the first step is to find it by searching for your business name on Google. When you find your page click on the ‘manage this page’ button to begin to take advantage of what is arguably the best free internet marketing tool available.

References:
1. http://ezlocal.com/blog/post/Some-Useful-Local-Search-Statistics.aspx
2. http://googleblog.blogspot.com.au/2011/09/google-just-got-zagat-rated.html

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