If you don’t know what happened (and most small business owners probably don’t know, and don’t understand the implications for their business) — Google replaced 80 million Google Places pages with Google+ Local pages in one fell swoop on Wednesday, May 30.
I realized something significant had happened when I started to send a client the link to my Google Places page to make it easy for them to write and submit a review about my Facebook and social media marketing consultation service.
To my dismay, I discovered that the red Write a Review button on my Google Places page had disappeared — which meant there was no longer any way that they could submit a review about my business through my Google Places page.
Fortunately, I had already set up a Google+ account and was able, with a few minutes research, to locate the link for my new Google+ Local page where the client could review my services now.
Why Google Reviews Matter to Local BusinessesLocal business reviews can make a big impact in local search results. Businesses with lots of positive online reviews from happy customers have more social credibility, and tend to rank higher in local search results, than businesses with no online reviews.
What Local Business Owners Need to Do Now
Google Local Search expert David Mihm recommends that local businesses take the following steps immediately in response to Google’s latest changes:
- Claim both your Google Places and your Google+ pages. (Don’t know how to do this? Ask me for help!)
- Get your Google+ page linked from your website, as well as your business name, address and phone number
- Get a small amount of Google+ activity going immediately.
- Message all existing customers witn an @gmail.com address that your business is now on Google+ and you would appreciate it if they would follow you on Google+ as well.
Links for Further Reading
For more information, please check the following authoritative articles about the Google Places / Google+ Local merge.
Local Search Just Got More Social — Google Places Pages Moved to Google+
Rankings on Google+ Local: Some Observations
Google Places Pages Are No More — But What Has Changed?
Google also has published a series of videos about Google+ Local. Here is one: