Back when Google acquired Zagat, we weren’t seeing a whole lot of innovation – but with its recent integration of Zagat into Google search, this most recent overhaul of Google Places and Google+ makes more sense. Some big changes have come to Google+ this week, and they will affect the way your business is found, viewed, and rated on Google and Google+ . Read on to learn more about the latest rollouts and add your two cents to the discussion in the comments!
Find your business on Google+
The new ‘Google+ Local’ search option is accessible only through your Google+ profile (for now). You’ll find the ‘Local’ tab on the left hand side of your home screen.
The new layout is streamlined and pleasing to the eye. You’ll still see the company’s name in bold, and its address underneath in a gray text. The photos next to the listing are more prominently displayed in Local, and “at a glance” terms are listed underneath. The business description from Google Places is here – called “from the owner” – and photos and key words are also brought over automatically.
One difference is very apparent: no more five-star ratings! Google+ Local is using a 30-point rating scale, and businesses can now be rated as low as a 0 (previously a 1), and as high as 30. Many restaurants that had 4 or 5-star ratings in Google Places, for example, are landing in the mid to high-20s range on the Local scale. Post reviews are supposed to have transferred over from Google Places to Google+ Local, though some businesses are reporting dropped reviews – hopefully kinks will be worked out in the coming weeks.
Get familiar with the ratings and review system
The ratings system is explained when you hover over the “Scoring Guide.”
Share and review…
Users can of course still +1 and share business listings and upload pictures -if anything Google is encouraging this by making the interface easier to navigate. But in the reviews department, another big change: all reviews are associated with a Google+ account- meaning if you write a scathing review, it will no longer be anonymous; users reading the review will be able to see who wrote the review and see their Google+ profile. While some users will undoubtedly see this as invasive, businesses will most likely benefit, as having each reviewer’s identity public knowledge discourages shameless business bashing.
Claim your Google+ Local Page now
The process is straightforward, and basically the same as it was for claiming your Google Place page. Stay alert for updates to come, and embrace these changes as a way of helping your viewers feel more comfortable on your site. The more personable and friendly a site, the more inclined viewers will be to linger and explore.
How has your experience been so far with Google+ Local?