Google Places for Business is now part of Google+. Optimize your Google Places listing today to take full advantage of new Google Places SEO ranking factors.
Google’s recent announcement that Google Places for Business would become part of Google+ has caused some confusion.
At present, the switch from Google Places for Business to Google+ Local predominantly affects how businesses are ranked and displayed as a new ranking factor has been introduced that can impact your Google Places SEO. Continue reading to discover what this new ranking factor is and how to maximize the effectiveness of your current Google Places listing.
What is Google Places for Business?
Google Places for Business is a free product offered by Google that allows business owners to claim their listing on Google Maps and to create a dedicated Google Places business listing, or Google Places listing for short.
Each Google Places listing is now a Google+ Local page and is accessible in several ways, but most notably via the more info and reviews links you’ll see in the search engine results pages and on Google Maps (see images below).
The image above was taken from page one of the Google search engine results pages for the search query “Ferrari dealer Miami.” Clicking the reviews link takes the user to the business’s Google+ Local page, which can be seen here.
The image above shows how Google+ Local pages can also be accessed via Google Maps by clicking on the more info and review links.
Google Maps listings are generated from publicly available data and used to populate entries on Google Maps. However, business owners can claim and verify their listings and populate a page about their business with hours, photos, videos and advertisements. The end result of the photo, video and asset submission process is now a Google+ Local page.
Why are Google+ Local pages important?
According to Google, 97% of consumers search for local businesses online. In addition, Google treats local search queries differently as Google often associates local search queries with intent.
For example, there are big differences in how Google displays results for pizza and orange juice. Both are foods, but pizza is often delivered via a local business to a local address whereas orange juice is not. For that reason, pizza is considered a local search query, which triggers the display of local businesses selling pizza.
Google+ Local pages are important because they give businesses a chance to rank on page one of Google without big advertising or SEO efforts. Ranking factors for local search are different from traditional ranking factors like content and links.
Local search ranking factors include proximity of the business to the city’s center, the authority of the business’s website, (which content and links play a major role in), and the number and frequency of reviews along with a new factor, Google+ Local scores.
The new local search ranking factor: Google+ Local scores
Last year Google acquired Zagat, a popular restaurant ratings provider. Google has since adopted Zagat’s rating system for restaurants to rate other businesses as well. Each reviewer is asked to rate different aspects of a business based on a 0 to 3 scale.
For many businesses, reviewers will be asked to rate businesses based on three factors: quality, appeal and service.
Matt Cutts, Google’s head of web spam and frequent public commenter on search engine optimization, recently tweeted this:
If you want to compete at Local SEO you need to conquer Zagat; just like you did in Street Fighter 2
— Matt Cutts (@rnattcutts) June 6, 2012
Because of the above tweet from Cutts, focusing more on providing outstanding products and service while also promoting the customer review process will be an initiative that businesses should seriously consider as part of their business and marketing plans for 2012 and beyond.
The social component of Google+ Local pages
Google+ Local pages are also accessible via Google+, Google’s Facebook-like social network. Users of Google+ can access Google+ Local pages via the Local tab in their account. Reviews and recommendations from friends (members of Circles) will be displayed in Google+ accounts with tight integration with the new Google+ Local pages. Users may see recommendations from friends alongside search queries for a more blended experience; not only will the previously described ranking factors like proximity of the business to the city’s center count, recommendations from friends may also influence what a user sees.
Show us your Google+ Local page or get help with your Google Places business listing.
If you are a business owner or work for a business (chances are you do!), you probably have a Google+ Local page derived from your Google Places business listing. Be the office hero by championing Google Places SEO! Post the URL below for your Google+ Local page and receive helpful tips on how you can optimize the page for greater visibility.
Would you like customized training on Google Places SEO or do you need help transitioning your Google Places business listing to Google+ Local? Contact The Search Guru today!