Since 2010 Google Places has been giving your small business the chance to create an online presence and build future customer confidence by offering consumers essential information, such as your location and hours as well as the all important, user-generated content like images of products and reviews of service. Now, with the introduction of the new Google+ Local, businesses will have the chance to enhance this presence by providing live updates, linking to other social networking sites like Facebook and offering reviews from the trusted source of ZAGAT.
For customers who do not have a Google+ account, little will change with the interface of your Google Places listing. In fact, the only obvious difference is the introduction of the new ZAGAT-model scoring guide in place of the five-star rating system. The screenshots below highlight this slight change. The first image was taken on May 30, 2012, and the second image is from June 1, 2012; both times, we used the search term “Mexican Restaurants Greenville, SC.”
Today, if non-Google+ users click through to your Google Places listing, they will see basically the same information. However, to leave a review, customers will now have to either sign-in to their Google+ account or create one.
For the present, SMB owners can continue to manage their basic content the same way they always have through Google Places for Business. But if you haven’t already set up an official Google+ page for your business, you should consider doing so soon, as this change predicts that Google will be phasing out the basic Places page and moving toward the more socially oriented and engaging Google+ pages. Set up your Google+ for Business page today so you aren’t left behind in this time of transition.
Faith Jones – Project Manager