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More about the new Google+ Local

Google Places, Google Local and Google Maps are now called Google+ Local. Google+ Local pages are similar to the former Google Places pages, however they provide better options for communication with your customers.

So what do you need to know about Google+ Local? In addition to the Zagat review system that we mentioned in a previous blog post, here are three more important changes you need to be aware of to get the most out of Google+ Local (formerly known as Google Places).

  1. Reach. It used to be that Google Places listings were only shown on Google Search results pages. Now, your Google+ Local listing will show up when web surfers search Google.com, Google Maps, and Google+, as well as when people access Google through mobile apps.
  2. Social networking via Google+ Local. Because Google+ Local is fully integrated into the Google+ social networking platform, businesses now have the opportunity to interact with their customers on a large scale via their Google+ Local pages. You can post updates, send and receive private messages, develop a following, organize your following into “circles”), and even leave reviews for other businesses using your Google+ Local profile. These advanced social networking features carry a broad range of exciting opportunities for connecting with your customers in powerful new ways.
  3. Google+ Local reviews. Google+ changes the way customers leave reviews for your business. First of all, customers must be logged into their Google+ accounts to leave a review. This means that there are no longer anonymous reviews, that could potentially be malicious and spammy, you know exactly who left what review, and you can respond to them directly, through their Google+ profiles. Also, instead of the previous 0 to 5 star rating scale, there is now a 30-point rating scale that requires reviewers to break down their ratings into specific aspects of your business (customer service, food, and décor, for example). This gives you a great advantage when it comes to interpreting and applying reviewer data for improvements to your business.

To set up or enhance your current Google+ Local profile, contact a specialist at Bloom Digital Marketing. 

Google Maps, Google Local and Google Places now called Google+ Local

To keep up with the changing landscape of social networking and local results, Google has yet again renamed and enhanced it’s local results to Google+ Local (formerly known as Google Maps, Google Local, and Google Places).

The new experience ties in Google+ into Google Maps and business listings, plus adds Zagat reviews to the foreground. Refer to June 15th blog post for more information.

As Google announced on their Google+ page:

Today we’re rolling out Google+ Local, a simple way to discover and share local information featuring ZAGAT scores and recommendations from people you trust in Google+.From the new “Local” icon on the left-hand side of Google+, you can search for specific places or browse for ones that fit your mood. Clicking on any place will take you to a local Google+ page that includes photos, Zagat’s high-quality scores and summaries, reviews from people in your circles and other information like address and opening hours.

Google+ Local is also integrated across the other products you already use every day, including Search, Maps and mobile, so you can get the same great local information wherever you go.

For article source and screenshots illustrating some of the new Google+ Local features, go to http://www.seroundtable.com/google-plus-local-15220.html.

Local Businesses – Optimize for more than just your brand

On the weekend we were headed to Milestones in Yaletown for brunch with the family. Being the Internet people that we are, we naturally went to Google and searched for ‘Milestones Yaletown hours’. And guess who came up in the top 5 organic search results? Well it wasn’t the milestonesrestaurants.com web site. This is surprising.

Local businesses need to look at their optimization efforts from all different angles. It’s not enough to just optimize for your brand name anymore even if you are well known local brand. In the case of Milestones, web sites such as dinehere.ca, foodvancouver.com, martiniboys.com, urbanspoon.com, all came up in results way before the Milestones web site when we searched for ‘Milestones Yaletown hours’. Milestonesrestaurant.com was #9!!!! Milestones should be number 1 for this query especially considering that we included their brand name in our query.

So how did the other sites rank so well for this query. It’s simple, they localized it. They each had a page dedicated to the Milestones Yaletown web site, these dedicated pages had ‘milestones’ and ‘yaletown’ in the url file name (i.e. dinehere.ca/vancouver/milestones-grill-and-bar-yaletown and http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/14/181178/restaurant/Yaletown/Milestones-Grill-and-Bar-Vancouver). And in the case of foodvancouver.com, Milestones Yaletown was set up in Google Maps (Show map of 1109 Hamilton St, Vancouver, BC V6B 1A1). So all these other web sites have keyword rich pages dedicated to the Yaletown establishment and a Google Maps listing to boot….so why doesn’t the Milestones web site. This is what came up #9 in organic search results:

Milestones Restaurants – Vancouver
Hours of Operation: Weekday Opening – 11 am Weekend Opening – 9:30 am … Milestone’s Yaletown is located in the heart of Vancouver’s trendy lofts and …
www.milestonesrestaurants.com/index.php?id=353/

And thus the #9 ranking for their own brand… behind all these other local sites. Their local competitor, the Keg Yaletown did a better job with their SEO. When we query ‘the keg yaletown hours’ in Google, their local listings appears followed by the dedicated Keg Yaletown page on their own web site: www.kegsteakhouse.com/en/locations/BC/…/yaletown-keg/

If you run a local business, don’t make the same mistake as Milestones. Take every measure to ensure that you appear for your own brand no matter what the search query.

Meet Google Buzz

Google Buzz lets you be social from Gmail. You can update your status there and share photos.

Who do you share Google Buzz with? Gmail contacts, for one, but you can also send your updates to Twitter as well. Your Gmail contacts can respond to your updates, using the @ symbol much like Twitter and now Facebook use. Your Gmail inbox will be used to push notifications to Buzz users.

Google Buzz was just launched on Feb 9, 2010 so it may take a few days before you get access. In the meantime, check out this vid to see how it works.

Do you think that Google Buzz can compete with Twitter and Facebook? Do you think that dominating yet another area of the Internet is a good idea for Google considering all the anti-trust scrutiny? I guess only time will tell. In the meantime, I will check it out once it rolls out to my Gmail account.

Google Social Search is here

At the end of January 2010, Google launched Social Search. To access that option, click Show Options, then click Social. Here’s a demo on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aYf5iSA6t6g

Basically your Google Social Search results are customized for you based on your Google Profile. Add people to your Social Circle in order to personalize your social content. To set up your profile, go to http://www.google.com/profiles.