As of May 23rd, Google Places (also known as Google Maps) became Google+ Local. If you are unfamiliar with Google+, it can be summed up as Google’s answer to Facebook and Twitter; without some of the established awesomeness. Google+ allows signed in users the ability to do a lot of things similar to both Facebook and Twitter in that you are able to share images, links, post stories and create profiles. However, many users – the few that actually use the social platform, feel it lacks some of the ‘feel’ that motivates users on Facebook. One great positive and competitive advantage for Google+ is the ability to “Hang Out.” Which is essentially Google’s version of Apple’s FaceTime. What does any of this have to do with local CSEO?
Well, like any good business, Google is ‘persuading’ users, logged in or not, to use optional services if they want to continue to benefit from the search giant’s indexing service. The search engine giant has invested a lot of time and money in to Google+ but seen little return on the investment. Google+ is integrated into the Android mobile system, but many opt out. They have extended the free use of Google Voice, but that doesn’t generate revenue. So what now? Target businesses! By migrating Google Places into the Google+ product, it is the aspiration of the Goog (in my opinion of course) to ‘go’ where the money is.
Business owners are already spending more money ads then ever before. According to The Guardian:
Nearly 97% – $22.889bn – of Google’s 2009 revenues were generated by advertising, and the majority of that through AdWords.
With this move Google is bring common users and businesses under a more controllable umbrella of social services. Now, what does that mean for your Google Places? A lot.
For users, it means that they will have to upgrade their standard Google Account to leave reviews or gain access to some of the elements of Google’s social services. For the businesses, this means that your reviews still exist but have changed into the Zagat format and those who have left you reviews will need to upgrade to a Google+ account for you to receive the full benefit of the review. According to the support forum users can move their content, such as saved locations and reviews by following these steps:
You’ll need to sign up for Google+ if you don’t have an account yet. Once you’ve signed up, reload the Google+ Local page to see your profile and sign in. Next you’ll be asked to move your content to Google+.
To mark content as private and only visible to you, follow these steps:
- Uncheck the box next to each of the reviews or photos you would like to make private.
- Click Next.
- Click Confirm if the information is correct.
- If you would like to make changes, click Back.
The Google Places content that you haven’t decided to make private will be public to everyone on the web and attributed to your Google+ name, not your old nickname. These reviews can be found across Google, like in Google search results, Google+, and on Google Maps.
Google acquired Zagat last year to help expand the effectiveness and authority of the reviews on business listings. The Zagat system uses a 30-point scoring scale along with integrated recommendations to add value to a local listing. The point scale is determined by averaging all submitted values provided by reviewers (they can give a 1, 2 or 3) then the result is multiplied by 10.
Editing and Fixing a Google+ Local location
In the past, you could log in to verify, edit, suspend, or claim business listings. This is still the case. However the links below take you back to the ‘old’ Google Places log in screen. But that isn’t going to fix a Local+ listing, because the information should be correct there if you have already verified or corrected it. This means that Google isn’t using the verified information nor are they offering a method for users to correct the errors, at least right now.
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Meanwhile, the new edit this business/manage this listing goes back to the old Google Places log in.
What does it all mean Basil?! Well, it means that, for right now, businesses hands are tied as it applies to editing the details displayed on the Google+ Local page. The fact that many clients have verified details that aren’t being used on their listing means that their are new data sets being used; say hello to a new round of duplicate listings. I have faith that sooner than later, Places will be linked in to Local and all will be right with the world again. Hear that Google?! Sooner than later please!