Google LocalJust yesterday, Google made a pretty significant announcement of which every business owner should take note. In an attempt to further combine its social media efforts with its focus on independently-owned companies, Google has integrated its Google Places program into Google+ Local. While the benefits of this consolidation many not be immediately apparent to everyone, the potential this move has for small business owners is considerable to say the least.

According to a quote from an article on Search Engine Watch, Google’s Vice President of Product Management cites the appeal of the mobile user market as being the primary incentive behind the change. By bringing Google Places program directly into the company’s social media platform, smartphone and tablet owners will encounter business listings more frequently when they use the Google+ app or browse the network via browser. Google claims that this will allow companies that have registered on Google+ to significantly improve their level of engagement with mobile users.

An announcement video released yesterday also emphasizes a new feature that those companies listed on Google’s social network will certainly appreciate – user reviews with scores. Businesses on Google+ can now receive reviews from customers by way of Zagat, in addition to written comments. This official scoring system allows potential clientele to look up a business’ rating and help make purchasing decisions. Combined with the fairly decent amount of traffic that Google+ sees these days, customer interaction levels for companies on the network will rise significantly as a result.

Using Google+ to its Fullest Potential
Regular readers of my blog will certainly see what all this adds up to. Although Google+ doesn’t boast anywhere near as many active users as Facebook or Twitter does, the features being offered to companies going into the network are quite attractive. As Google+ users can now easily interact with and review any business previously found on Google Places, company owners need to redouble their efforts on the social media site. The following are just a few ways that businesses can improve their Google+ listings:

  • Fill out as much information about your company as possible. According to an entry on Google’s blog, companies that were previously listed on Google Places should edit the details of their business through the old Places portal. This information will be immediately reflected on the Google+ listing as well and will help customers learn more about you and your business.
  • Upload beautiful and eye-catching images. Google has been touting its network’s emphasis on large images and sleek presentation as being a big deal for businesses. Company owners should use high-end digital cameras or hire a photographer to produce original photos for their social media page.
  • Encourage customers to review your business on Google+. People loved being asked for their opinions, and channeling those efforts through the newly revamped Google+ Local program means having a place to show both praise and criticism.

Of course, the SEO experts at WebiMax will be periodically checking in on Google+ Local to see how the new program fares. As always, I can be reached at jwersits@webimax.com should readers have any questions.