Google Maps is now Google + Local

So what happened? Why would my Google Places/Maps not be showing up? What exactly is going on here?

Well Google has gone and done it again. They have started the process of migrating the Google Maps/Places over to Google + Local profile pages. This is a really exciting change and something that has been speculated within the Local SEO industry for the past year or so since Google + was first introduced. It to me is really interesting and at first I was a little scared to see this happen, but it is exciting to see that this is going to start getting more people to use Google +, and be more engaged in local businesses that they associate with. In a small way it is Google’s attempt to force you to use their social network, but in all reality though, it is a great platform where your property can be discussed and will increase your reach within Google’s network. Here is the official post that is from the Google Blog: “Finding the best places to go is an essential part of our lives, as are the people and resources that help us make those decisions. In fact, the opinions of friends, family or other trusted sources are often the first we seek when looking for the perfect restaurant for date night or the cafe that makes the best latte ever. Today, we’re rolling out Google+ Local, a simple way to discover and share local information featuring Zagat scores and recommendations from people you trust in Google+. Google+ Local helps people like my husband turn a craving—“Wow, I need brunch”—into an afternoon outing: “Perfect, there’s a dim sum place with great reviews just two blocks from here. Let’s go.” It’s integrated into Search, Maps and mobile and available as a new tab in Google+—creating one simple experience across Google.

Local information integrated across Google From the new “Local” tab on the left-hand side of Google+, you can search for specific places or browse for ones that fit your mood. If you click on a restaurant, or a museum (or whatever), you’ll be taken to a local Google+ page that includes photos, Zagat scores and summaries, reviews from people you know, and other useful information like address and opening hours. Google+ Local is also integrated across other products you already use every day. If you’re looking for a place on Search or Maps, you get the same great local information there too. You can also take it on the go with Google Maps for mobile on your Android device, and soon on iOS devices……..”

The blog post continues by describing how Zagat’s (which was purchased by Google last fall) rating system will be implemented for all properties. This is the breakdown of the rating scale:

Each individual user rating will be a 0 to 3 scale

3 Excellent

2 Very Good

1 Good

0 Poor to Fair

Google will then take these ratings and times them by 10 to get an average score

26-30 Extraordinary to Perfection

21-25 Very Good to Excellent

16-20 Good to Very Good

10-15 Fair to Good

0-9 Poor to Fair.

Then you and you’re friends reviews will actually be implemented into your search results, as you can see here in this video:

So this is what business owners should expect as far as ratings go when they are looking at their Google + Local pages.  Also customers can post their reviews on these pages to go along with their rating. Once that has been in place,  you as the owner can post your thoughts and respond to those reviews; if they are negative or feel that there is a need to have them addressed. In the end Google expects things to end up like this:

It is a very exciting change and something that businesses needs to get on top of. Take a look at your local listing and make sure you have it connected to your Google + page. If you don’t have one, please build one! I would be happy to get this taken care of for you. Let me know if you have any questions or concerns about this new update in the comments below.

PS, this is a little more in-depth compared to the post I originally wrote on Property Solution’s Blog which can be found here

Google + Gets a Facelift

As of Novemberish of last year, there has been a new social network out on the internet called Google +.  This is kind of a new venture for Google, but not really that new for them. Buzz was one of their first attempts at creating a sort of social network where people could write and talk about things that they were interested in, but it didn’t really seem to catch on that well.  Working to build a connection with Facebook was a failed effort, and then loosing their information from Twitter was kind of a let down as well.

So Larry Page took the reigns and started to see that a lot of the trends and changes of the internet were happening in the social media arena.  With almost 1 Billion people on Facebook you can kind of get the idea that it has made a huge impact.  But with Facebook now being in bed with Bing there was the problem that they weren’t going to be able to get all of that data, likes, and links that people were sharing with each other. Larry’s solution was for Google to create their own social network. I mean when you have the backing of one of the biggest companies in the world, it seems like a very possible thing to accomplish. Along with the fact that most everyone that uses the internet has a gmail account, or watched a video on youtube, or if you are a webmaster have a connection to Google Analytics.

So the push began, it was a little small at first, and it was a very exclusive club for you to get onto Google +, and businesses didn’t even have a presence at the beginning.  Slowly as time went on though more and more people started to sign up.  Now as far as we know there are over 100 million people that have an account. Do we know how much they are using it? No, and to be honest I haven’t really touched my Google + profile as much as I use Facebook.  Things may change though from the recent changes they have made.

In this video you can see some of the changes that they have made to the layout:

Google has pushed to revamp their design and layout. Make it more modern and simple. And that is where a lot of things are moving towards. I mean look at how simple it is to post a picture on Pinterest. Basically it’s just a few clicks and you are done.

With this new simpler approach I might start using my Google + more, branching out my network and getting more people following what I’m writing here. Good for SEO and just nice to have more of a presence.