What is Google+ Local?
Google announced a significant update to the way ‘Local’ and ‘Places’ results work on the 30th of May. Google Places has now been integrated with Google+, imaginatively named Google+ Local.
What are the implications? This development means that you are likely to start seeing personalised recommendations from people in your Google Plus circles for specific businesses or services. Google will deliver place recommendations based on your past reviews, reviews from your circles, people you trust on Google and Zagat ratings. This is how it looks..
The New Review System
Google have added a scoring system from Zagat, a company they acquired in September 2011 for a reported $151m US. Zagat is a popular review service mainly for restaurants and hotels. However previous Google reviews are being converted into the Zagat format as well. Their rating system is based on a 30 point scale and depending on the business, can have various dimensions like quality, service, decor and price.
The score is determined by individual user ratings scaled on a 0 to 3. A score of zero is ‘poor to fair’ and a score of three is ‘excellent’. All users’ ratings are averaged and then multiplied by 10 in order to deliver a score out of 30.
The scale looks like this:
Reviews Based on Business Category
Now with Google+ local you can review different aspects of a business service. For example if you are reviewing a hotel, you can score them for their overall quality, facilities and services. This will help other people in your Google Circles to discover places you recommend. Remember Google have always said Google+ isn’t a Facebook copy, but rather, a recommendation engine. See a demo of how it works below…
If you are looking for hotel in Brisbane, Google will deliver hotel recommendations with average score in Google+ Page as below:
The results and ratings (highlighted) will appear in Google maps like this:
Imagine the power of these social, word of mouth recommendations for your business!
What Do Business Owners Need To Do?
1 . Claim your Google local page
If you do a search for your business in Google Maps and it appears but is not your listing, you’d better claim it. If nothing comes up, set it up a.s.a.p! If you’ve already claimed your listing, don’t worry it will automatically get transferred over.
2. Setup a Google Plus business page
Again if you haven’t already, be sure to set up Google + page for your business. Start sharing regular engaging content and interacting with your customers on a regular basis.
3. Encourage customers to write reviews
Your goal should obviously be to build as many positive reviews as possible. Ask your customers to write a review on your Google+ local page and think of creative ways to thank them.
If you’re a restaurant, put signs up asking people to review you. If you’re a business service, ask your clients or partners to give you a shout out. You can even chuck a link in your email signature if you have a good enough call to action!
Google is making Google+ the centre for all its products. Expect in the very near future to allow users to check in directly on Google+. At the time of writing you can only check in via Google Latitude. When check-ins go live, encourage your customers to check-in at your business, and offer a small incentive if possible. For example if you’re coffee shop, offer 20% off two cups of coffee if they check in on Google+. Every time they check in their friends will this see and suddenly you’ll have extended your reach to their entire circle of friends. Good luck!