Google+ Local: The New Google Places

Have you ever googled a company or business and seen a map of its location pop up in your search results? Up until last month, this feature was a benefit of verifying your place of business on Google Places. But with Google’s attempt over the past year to infiltrate the social web through Google+, these Places listings have now been moved to the Local segment of Google’s social network. There’s a long list of reasons why creating a Google+ Local listing should be a priority for small businesses including its accessibility to mobile users and its rating and review features. If you’re at all interested in growing the online presence of your company, here are some Google+ Local features you should be aware of:

Mobile Accessibility

Along with the announcement of Google+ Local came the inevitable update to the Google+ mobile app. The new Local tab features categories for restaurants, cafes, bars, and attractions that are near your current location. By simply clicking on the category of interest, users have instant access to reviews of local businesses by those they are connected to as well as the general public.

Google+ Local Mobile

Zagat Integration

Acquired by Google in late 2011, Zagat has made a name for itself as a premier business review application offering ratings and opinions of local restaurants and places of interest. The launch of Google+ Local introduced the replacement of Google Places’ 5-star rating system with Zagat’s 30-point scale. Google+ users can now rate rate businesses on a scale of 0 to 3. Results are then averaged and multiplied by 10 to determine overall ratings.

Zagat Integration Google+ Local

SEO Implications

Because the new Google+ Local pages will all be indexed by search engines, there are a lot of benefits to be reaped by optimizing your Local listing. Not only will Local pages give small businesses more of a chance to rank well in Google, but they will also allow businesses to reach a highly targeted, local audience and encourage clients and customers to get involved in their social presence.

Google+ Local and SEO

If you aren’t already listed on Google Places, you will have to create a Google+ account to get started with your Local listing. As for now, all Local listings can still be updated through Google Places, but in order to manage your Local listing directly, you must claim it as a Google+ user.

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