Last month Google announced that it was merging its popular Google Places product with their Google+ network, the appropriately named Google+ Local brings their variety of great features available within Google+ to local business owners around the world.
According to the Google blog this was in an attempt to “improve the way people discover new businesses, rediscover places they love, and share them with friends across the web”.
If you are worrying about whether or not you now need to create an entirely new Google+ Local listing, you can be rest assured there is no need to. If you already had a Places listing set up, this would have been automatically transferred over to the new format. If you are unsure, search for your business on Google Maps, select your listing and then click on the ‘more info’ option.
This should now take you to your Google+ local page.
The first thing that you will notice with the upgrade is that it’s much more visually appealing, with options to customise your profile image, header and add a bunch of other photos relevant to your business. With an increased visual aspect, customers are able to judge your page quicker than before so it is important you take some time to ensure your page represents what’s unique about your business and grabs their attention.
The integration into Google+ allows businesses to leverage its functionality to interact and engage with customers. Eventually through your local listing you will be able to host hangouts, provide updates similar to a Google+ Business Page, include videos and even add people to your own circles. All these functions provide you with the opportunity to transform your customer base into a community.
Another aspect which could directly affect your business is that now people can search and filter which businesses they are looking for based on their personal circles on Google+. This means that ensuring you provide an excellent service to your customers is a priority if you want to generate great reviews for your business and show up as a trusted recommendation within Google+ circles.
If you don’t have a Google+ local page setup for your business, my recommendation would be to create one now and get your company and customers on board.
Take a look at the Google+ Local video to see the new features in action!