According to Google, 97% of consumers search for local businesses online. Up to this point, Google Places has been a helpful tool to connect those consumers with local businesses. However, Google Places is now a thing of the past. Google recently introduced the merger of Google Places and Google+ Profiles, to create Google+ Local.
If you had a Google Places listing it was automatically merged into a Google+ Local page. Many of the merged pages lost their formatting, so you’ll want to log in and clean up your page, pay particular attention to your banner and profile images.
It is important to understand the changes, as they will ultimately affect your practice.
What Makes Google+ Local Different?
- Pages feature a new layout to showcase your business in a detailed way- allowing more photos, text, links and tabs.
- Google’s star ratings are being replaced by the Zagat 30-point rating scale, which has been widely used in the restaurant industry for years. Note: Google purchased Zagat last year.
- Google+ now features a “Local” tab.
- Google+ Local pages will be indexed so they show up in the search results.
- You now have the option to add blog posts, photo albums and updates to your profile feed.
- Enhances the ability to engage and socialize with consumers.
What Will Happen to Your Google Places Reviews?
Google says they will be transferring the reviews from your Place page to your Google+ Local page automatically. However, the old star ratings system will be replaced with Zagat ratings. By dismissing the traditional 5 star ratings and upgrading to the Zagat 30 point system, consumers now have the ability to grade your practice on separate facets, including service, decor and cost. Reviewers will rate your practice on a scale of 0 to 3, Google will then average the scores and multiply them by 10 for a maximum score of 30. Google has also announced that the content on Zagat.com will now be free for registered users of Google+.
What if You Already Created a Google+ Business Page?
You will need to continue to manage it separately from your newly created Google+ Local Profile. At the moment, the two are independent of one another. Google plans to eventually consolidate Google+ Business Pages and the new Google+ Local Pages into a single listing.
You can visit this site and enter your email address and Google will send you an alert when yours are consolidated.
While this new format will take some getting used to, the ability to create richer, more user friendly pages with integrated Zagat ratings will be beneficial.