This past Wednesday, Google launched Google+ Local, basically retiring Google Places as we know it. Along with that, the review system has switched over to the Zagat format which Google purchased about a year ago. What does all this mean for your reviews and your listings on Google?
Google really wants people to use Google+, and now a person will have to be signed up for Google+ in order to leave a review for any business. All previous reviews created by someone signed into their Gmail account will now just be listed as “A Google User,” until that person activates a Google+ account. The star system is no longer there; the Zagat review system has been implemented. When an individual goes to review a dental practice, they will rate its quality from 0 – 3. Google will then create an average of the number of reviews left on the listing, multiplying it by 10 to get a number 0 -30, 30 being the best. When a Google+ user leaves a review it will be linked to their profile, showing their name and any public information displayed on their Google+ page.
Many may fear that they will lose their reviews as this migration takes place, but not to worry, they are still there. What has also been observed is the fact that businesses can leave reviews for other businesses now in the new Google+ Local format. This could be a great addition to garnering reviews other than just from clients.
The Google Places listing that was used for leaving reviews and found in Google Maps has now moved over to Google+ Local. It can be edited and accessed the same way, but that will most likely change in the future. For a few more days, the Places pages will show up in Google Maps until the transition is complete. Along with owner-verified listings, duplicates have migrated as well, but there is a new system of dealing with duplicates that will hopefully be streamlined. There will also be a faster way to disable them.
Google has also announced that these Google+ Local listings will be able to be connected to a company’s Google+ Business page. This feature hasn’t been added yet, but will be rolled out in the next few weeks.
The Roadside Local and Social Media teams anticipated that this change was likely to happen eventually, so we’ve been hard at work setting up Google+ Business pages for the past several months. As a result, our marketing clients are poised and ready to react to these new changes.
Since we were expecting this to some degree, we’re ready to roll up our sleeves and get to work. Google hinted when opening up the Google+ Business Pages that local search would somehow connect eventually, and that day has arrived. The line between social and search with Google is blurring as time goes on. Google wants to be known as a social network, and they are integrating social aspects into most of the tools that they provide. The importance of becoming social with these tools cannot be stressed enough in trying to reach potential customers.
Interestingly, it’s already been noticed that building a strong presence on a Google+ Business Page can have dramatic impact on Google ranking. There are a few businesses that have been profiled; prior to this change, they were not ranking well, but they were building a presence on their Google+ business page, and interacting with customers in their circles. Now, in conjunction with the changes Google is implementing, they are starting to outrank others in their field. This proves that Google will give precedence to those businesses who are social, and Roadside wants to make sure that our clients are at the top.
Our team is actively staying on top of these new developments and we will continue to strive to be the first to keep you informed! Dental marketing is constantly evolving; count on Roadside to guide you through. In the end, any tool that allows a business to interact with customers in a new way is a good thing.
In order to stay ahead of the pack in Search Engine results, we strongly recommend that consistent, strategic, and diligent efforts are put into two areas: 1) management of Google+ Business and 2) active social engagement with patients and others on Google+. It’s becoming evident that ignoring this platform could have disastrous impact on SEO. If you are a Roadside Marketing client, your Account Manager will be contacting you over the course of the next week to review your current marketing plan and to make recommendations of what we’d like to do to keep you ahead of the pack. If you are not currently a Roadside Marketing client, contact our team today to learn more about what we can do for your SEO and social media management. The Marketing team is ready to answer your questions; just give us a call at (360) 658-2626.