We all knew it was coming; we all knew ever Google will certainly do it, and they finally have done it. Google Places pages are now converted into Google+ Business pages. In this post, we will highlight the effects this change can have on our local SEO practices.
Before this change, you had the option of promoting your business locally through these two methods:
1. Google Places Page: These pages were more like a yellow pages listing where they listed your company name, phone number, address and photos. These pages were not included in the SERPs, and since had a very little benefit for business owners.
2. Google+ Business Page: This was a separate property, which was set up inside your Google+ Account. These pages made it easier to integrate your business page with your audience with Google+ Circles and hangouts.
Currently, Google has replaced the Google Places Pages with Google+ Local Pages. Although there is no option for business owners to combine these two pages by themselves, Google has determined that this option of merging will be available very soon.
Google+ Business Pages and SEO!
Few of the predominant changes that have occurred due to this transition are:
– Google places pages have been redirected to Google+ Business Pages.
– There is a new "Local" tab available in Google+ account to provide personalized and social recommendations for local businesses.
– Google`s previous five star rating / review system has been eliminated.
– Google+ Business Pages are visible on SERPs, Google Maps, and Google Mobile.
The most obvious advantage of this transition is the fact that your company`s Google+ Business Page now has the potential to rank on search engines and generate more traffic to your website.
Second advantage is that it will increase your organic search engine rankings as well, as Google now takes Social Signals into heavy consideration while deciding which web page to rank for each keyword.
What We (SEOs) should do?
You, as a business owner or an SEO can find yourself in two scenarios:
1. In case you already have a Google Places Page setup:
"If you are a business owner, you should continue to manage your information in Google Places for Business. You will still be able to verify your basic listing data, make updates, and respond to reviews. will operate as normal as they'll automatically redirect people to the destination you selected or your current listing. "
In addition, if you have an established Google+ Business Page as well, you will have to keep up with the maintenance of both pages until Google decides to offer the option of merging the two.
In case you did not have a Google+ Business page, you should create one right now. Furthermore, keep in mind that using the same email address (that you used for Google Places Page) will make the transition much easier later.
1. In case, you do not have a Google Places Page already:
In case you have not yet created a local business listing with Google, you can still do that by going to Google.com/places and then clicking "Get Started". This would require you to verify your listing either by Phone number or by postal service.
While creating this listing keep the following in your mind:
– Your phone number must contain the Area code of your city, as it plays a vital role in ranking local listings.
– Do not stuff keywords into your Listing Title.
– Always use your "Contact us" page in your website field.
– Write a keyword rich and attention grabbing Description for your business.
– Choose a relevant category.
– Upload logo, and as much other pictures as possible. It will make your business page look more appealing.
After that, go on and create a Google+ Business page as well for your business. Choose a relevant category and use the same email address as you did for Google Places.
Then, get active on Google+, as social signals now play a much more important role in local listings than ever before. Here are few of the things you can do to increase your presence on Google+.
– Build your personal profile and start adding relevant people into your circles.
– Post updates on Google+ profile and page frequently.
– Encourage visitors and customers to review your product / services.
– Add the link to your Google+ Page in your email signature.
– Promote your Google+ page to your fans and followers on Facebook and Twitter respectively.
As this integration is still being processed, we would certainly see more changes and best practices coming out in the near future
Have you set up your Google+ page for your business / website? Do share your thoughts and comments on the process below, in the comment section.