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14 Jul 2011

How Will Google+ Affect Local or Has It Already?

Google Plus Local

20 million Google+ users may exist by the weekend, according to an article published this last Tuesday by PCWorld.

Google+ is definitely taking off, but will it ever be as successful as Facebook, which reports over 750 million users? Or, will it lose steam and eventually die off? Should local businesses add this to local search marketing efforts?

In a recent post by Mike Blumenthal, which he wrote with a spotty Internet connection while on vacation but simply wanted to get the news out, he stated:

Taking the time to network via Social Media often results in quality links, mentions and citations to your business that all support rankings.

Jeff Huber, Google VP of Local and Commerce, has indicated that Google+, at some point in the near future will include the option for business profile page. Here is his comment:

“And pre-emptively answering a question — yes, we will have (smb) business profile pages on Google+. I can’t announce a launch date yet, but we want to make them *great*, and we’re coding as fast as we can.”

Yet another profile for a small business to maintain, in addition to the already existing Google Places page. Hmm.

Until now, Google Places has not had any interactive elements to it other than the ability of users to leave reviews. People cannot check into Google Places. Perhaps this will be an element of Google+ business profiles. But, I would sure hope that these two things are seamlessly integrated. Chances of that happening? We shall see.

Google rolled out their new look across all of their applications. You can see it here with the local SERPS. Personally, I like it. And, if you hadn’t noticed before, Google AdWords is now integrated with the local SERPS, announced in a post back in February. The paid listings show up with a blue pin, versus a red pin for the organic results.

Local Search Results with Google Plus

In addition, Google recently updated their mobile interface within Safari, which is much easier to use and much more attractive.

Google Places Mobile SERPSGoogle MobileGoogle Places Mobile

With Google Offers, this new mobile interface, are we just months away from the ability to check-in? Google really seems to be increasing their socialization factor. But, is social media indeed a factor for local search rankings? For the past four years, David Mihm of GetListed.org conducts a Local Search Ranking Factors Survey of leading industry experts. He asks them to rate the importance of 79 factors. Social didn’t make the top ten factors this year, but it still more important than it was last year. Social media interactions can generate citations and links for a small business. Google+ is another opportunity for a business to engage with potential and current customers.

A few quotes from Mihm’s survey:

According to Lisa Kolb “Taking the time to network via Social Media often results in quality links, mentions and citations to your business that all support rankings.”

And from Ian Lurie, “Links are as important here as they are for standard organic rankings. But social media is a far bigger factor than last year. Encourage customers to Tweet/Fb when they’re in your establishment.”

The survey was published on June 3, 2011, so I am sure if Google+ had rolled out beforehand, there would be mention of the social product.

Small businesses should pay attention to this and once Google+ business profiles are rolled out they should indeed set one up. Speculators are already questioning why Google would make it more difficult for small businesses with two separate profiles. Jeff Huber seems to be listening and I think he’ll consider this and Google Places and + will somehow be integrated.

9 Comments

  • Nick Stamoulis Jul 14, 2011

    It would make sense if Places was integrated into business Google+ pages. I’m interested to see what they have to offer for SMBs. I’m hoping that it’s more than just what Facebook allows for brand pages.

  • Mike Blumenthal Jul 14, 2011

    I am sure that you noticed that while not yet integrated with Places, Google + mobile does allow for check in now.

  • Thomas Ballantyne III Jul 14, 2011

    I am curious when Google+ will integrate a field for displaying a users reviews. Moving beyond rankings, the impact of social media to buying and trust is colossal. Marketing is about persuasion. People persuade. Personal stories persuade.

  • Sarah Moraes Jul 14, 2011

    Mike, yes just figured that out! But was hard to find, at least for me :) Only realized when others were checking in.

  • Linda Buquet Jul 14, 2011

    Sarah wrote: “Small businesses should pay attention to this and once Google+ business profiles are rolled out they should indeed set one up. ”

    They are ready to do + Business Profile testing right now. Invite for BETA testers that’s only good today and tomorrow. I just blogged it here.

    http://marketing-blog.catalystemarketing.com/google-plus-business-profiles-beta.html

    So if anyone wants a chance of getting the early inside view or maybe help G forge the right path, need to try to get accepted now.

    Linda

  • Sarah Moraes Jul 14, 2011

    Thanks so much, Linda. I’m spreading the word!

  • Linda Buquet Jul 14, 2011

    I added your post to my Google Places news channel. It has top billing there right now. Plus Tweeted your post there too. :-)

    Thanks, Linda

  • RhythmStrummer1 Jul 16, 2011

    Hi Sarah,

    Thanks for the update.

  • David @ SEO-writer.ca Jul 28, 2011

    It is possible that Google will simply migrate Places to +1, and have businesses upgrade their accounts.