Google Places Becomes Google+ Local — 5 Facts Your Business Needs to Know

Google Places Becomes Google+ Local — 5 Facts Your Business Needs to Know

\"Google+The internet landscape is once again changing, and this time the change directly impacts your business on Google.

Your business has likely been on the search engine giant’s business platform — Google Places — for quite some time, and you may have some reviews. But in late May, Google began the transition to its new platform called Google+ Local.

If you’ve been putting off learning about this particular social network, consider Google+ Local the push you need to get it done. The Google Places transition will allow users to find your business on Google while searching, using Maps, using a mobile device and socializing on Google+. For customers to find you online and feel good about the information they get, your Google+ Local page needs to be managed.

Not sure what to expect with the changeover? Here are the points you should know:

1. New Ratings on Google+ Local

The five-star rating system will be replaced with Zagat review scores. Google acquired restaurant review site Zagat last year with this idea in mind. This 30-point system will soon be the norm on Google, but not many businesses in smaller cities have heard of this rating system. Most of the listings are for more metropolitan areas and it was behind a paywall before Google bought the website.

The ratings are as follows, according to the Zagat and Google rating key:

  • 26-30: Extraordinary to perfection
  • 21-25: Very good to excellent
  • 16-20: Good to very good
  • 11-15: Fair to good
  • 0-10: Poor to fair

Star ratings from the former system will be converted into the new point-based system, and all scores are averaged. However, it takes a few reviews before a score is posted. So, if you only have a handful of reviews, your Zagat score won’t likely be posted.

2. Google Places Reviews To Migrate Over (Mostly)

Do you already have reviews on Google Places? Most of them should make the transition. Users who left ratings and posted photos on your business Places listing before the changeover can reclaim their reviews once they create a Google+ account. Then, they can choose to make the photos or reviews private, delete them or leave them up. If the reviewer does nothing, then the review and photos will still be available to view online — the review will just be attributed to “A Google User” instead of to a specific Google+ account.

3. Customers Can “Check-In” to Your Business

Google+ users can now check in when they come to your business, much like they do with Foursquare. Privacy settings allow users to either share their check-ins with the whole world or with just a select few circles of friends and contacts. If it is public, the check-in includes the customer’s name and profile photo.

4. Non-Google+ Users Can Still See Your Local Page

Google+ isn’t exactly taking off like gangbusters — there are more than 100 million users but there hasn’t been as much activity and sharing like you see on other social media websites. All your work on your Local page won’t go to waste though, since non-Google+ users will still be able to access most of the page.

Most, but not all. Only registered users can upload photos, leave reviews and see the Zagat scores. This means anonymous comments won’t be a problem, but good (and bad) Zagat scores will stay hidden from users unless they create an account.

5. Personalized Recommendations for Users

Google+ Local will start collecting data on users based on what they have reviewed or checked into, and it incorporates where their friends and contacts have been as well. It’s too early to tell how people will respond to these recommendations, but the model has worked well for Amazon, Facebook and even Twitter.

Google plans to make more changes in the next few months to integrate Google+ Local into its social network, and where that leaves the Google+ Pages is hard. The bottom line: Claim your local page now with your Google+ account and make sure the information is accurate and complete. Update it regularly, even if the posts are identical to your Facebook posts.