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by Andy Williams on 15th August 2012
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You will have, no doubt, already recently seen or read about the update to Google Places profiles. This is with the introduction of Google+ Local. But this has led to some confusion with profile owners and some businesses wondering if there’s anything they need to do with these new profiles, whether they have full control over them and whether there is anything they need to change.
So today, I’m going to give you a brief overview on Google+ Local, a look at some of the areas, a look at the update, and see what that means to you.
So, what is Google+ Local? Well, as I touched on, it’s just basically an upgrade and a redesign from the old Google Places profiles. All the information should have been migrated across already by Google, so you shouldn’t need to worry about anything there. If you had a verified account in the past, this is still the case. The only difference is that there’s no symbol or status update on your new profile to suggest that you are verified, but you are, so you don’t need to worry about that.
To manage your account, you still need to go to Google.com/places, and from that dashboard, you can still manage your entire account from there. You can add or change any information that is no longer relevant or that has now become relevant.
So what has actually changed with the profile itself? Well, the design is obviously different and the layout is obviously different, but the information is still the same. The logos and the images are now across the top of the profile, with your logo prominent in the top right-hand corner. There’s also more prominence to your address and your description, so make sure those are up to date and they are correct.
What you’ll also see is that the categories that are displayed, that you are in, is now only two. That doesn’t mean that if you had five before, you now have only two. If you click on one of those categories, what you’ll find is a box pops up, and that will tell you every single category that you are also listed in. So, again, you shouldn’t need to change anything there.
The scoring system that is used is also different now. Before, you had a five-star review system. Now you have a points out of 30 system. This is used as a gap scoring system, which will be used more for restaurants and hotels and things like that. So that will change. But what we’re seeing at the moment is that within the results pages in Google, we’re still seeing some five star reviews within the local section. That should eventually just disappear, and it should be the score out of 30.
If people want to leave you a review, nothing has changed there. They still need to have a Google account in order to leave their information and to leave the review. There will be a slight change to the scoring system as well, which will then result in the score out of 30 for you.
So will these changes affect your rankings in any way? Well, the short answer is no. This is simply a redesign as opposed to an algorithm update. So rankings shouldn’t change at all. Rankings will remain exactly the same. If there’s any changes, that’s more to do with the algorithm that’s already in place as opposed to this change in design. So if you have seen any changes, this isn’t because of the Google+ Local change. So you don’t need to worry about that. You just need to look at all the usual areas and continue with your local promotion.
But what’s the future of Google+ Local? What’s going to happen? Well, at the moment, all your information is being passed across and migrated to a Google+ Local profile, so that’s a standalone profile. But you should also have a Google+ business account. In the future, Google have said that they’re going to migrate the two together so that this will be one big profile. At the moment, we have no date from them. All we know is that this is what they’re planning to do. Like the Google+ Local update, this could simply happen overnight. So just keep an eye on that and see what happens there.
But what happens if you haven’t got a Google+ Local page? Well, I would get one as soon as possible. Google have been quite open about the fact that Google+ is where they’re going to start taking quite a few ranking factors from. So if you haven’t got a presence within Google+, be it a business page or a local page, you need to get one straightaway. So in order to get that, you need a Google account. You need to go to Google+. From there, what you need to do is you need to look down the left-hand side of your page, and right at the bottom there should be a More section. If you click on there, that should bring up a second box that says “Pages.” So if you click on there, you’re taken to the setups phase. Click on the Local Business box, which is the first option, and from there, fill in every single field that Google gives you. Make sure that all the information is correct and make sure you do fill in all these fields. The more information you give Google, the more they’re going to fill out your profile and the more attractive that’s going to be.
Make sure you upload images as well. And you might want to have a play about how the images sit in the top border section as well. Some companies have made sure that this then displays their logo, by having a different number of images that will sit next to each other. Some people have just got images that are relevant to their industry or products that they’re selling. So have a play about with that. Once you’ve filled in all the information, create your page. And from thereon in, it’s verified to you and it’s live, and you now have a local presence.
So all you need to do now is continue with your local strategy and your local campaign. Make sure you get people to start leaving reviews on your profile as well to strengthen that, and away you go. You’re up and running. So make sure you’ve got a Google+ business page as well, because when this migration happens, you want everything to be in place.
So that’s a brief overview on Google+ Local. Not a lot has actually changed. All the information should have been migrated across. The information is exactly the same. So, effectively, you shouldn’t need to change anything, but I would log in and just make sure that all the information you expect to be there is there.
Andy Williams, our DADI award winning Digital Marketing Manager will be giving you useful insights into local search and the overall SEO landscape. Andy has over 9 years experience in the SEO industry including 2 years as the in-house SEO consultant with a leading Web Design company.