Google Places is a vital component of SEO, because its shows up when someone searches for a business on Google, in Google Maps, or uses a mobile GPS system utilizing Google Maps. It is a very popular way for customers to find your business. If you’ve never checked your profile, it may not exist. Or, if your profile does exist it may contain a wrong phone number or address, which can misdirect potential customers. It also is a place for customers to leave reviews and to provide media, such as photos and videos, which help your business stand out.
On May 30th, Google began a roll-out of a major change to how customers review businesses on Google. What had formerly been Google Places, is now shifting to Google+ Local. The transformation is still occurring and not every business has switched over completely, but the change has already affected many listings.
Let’s take a look at how the new listings will appear, using a ChiroMatrix web marketing client.
You’ll notice dimensions of the map are now wider, with your main photo displayed more prominently and on the right hand side above the map. At first glance only that image displays, though you can click “Photos” to show any additional photos that have been uploaded or associated with your listing. Below that your contact information is listed, the hours that you are open today, and your reviews.
Reviews are essential not only to customers looking at your listing, but to Google. Reviews help Google to determine whether your listing is relevant to a search term, and therefore will come up higher in search results. The review system has changed because of Google’s acquisition of Zagat, which is famous internationally for its restaurant rating system. Zagat was used to review restaurants, but Google will use this rating system for all industries. The rating has gone from a maximum of five out of five stars, to three out of three points. Previous to the update, 3 was mediocre, however, now it is an excellent review. Reviews are averaged together with a common denominator of 30. For more information on ratings, visit this link.
Additionally, you may notice your reviews from your old page are created by, “A Google user”. Google has anonymized all reviews, and it is now up to a reviewer to decide to post their reviews publicly. It cannot be said for certain, but so far it looks like reviewers who decide to publish their name are seen as “more helpful” according to the new algorithm. However, it is also understandable that a patient receiving medical care wants to keep their name privatized. Unfortunately, one cannot put a nickname or their Gmail username. The only option is to be listed as an anonymous reviewer or to show their full name.
Additionally, your new Google Local + page will now be associated with a Google + listing. If you already created a Google+ business listing, you will have the opportunity to merge it, and this should be happening automatically at an undisclosed time. Either way, you will have to have a personal Google + account now. The Google + listing is for individuals and requires you to put a full name. You may find that putting Dr. as your first name will not work. You will have to meet Google’s name conditions (read more about that here). Eventually, this new system will include great features like connecting your business information to your Google+ social media profile.
The ChiroMatrix team continues to stay aware of updates in order to create customized listings that increase customer engagement and to get businesses seen in their communities. If you would like to learn more about how ChiroMatrix can help you optimize your business profiles, please call our sales team today at 1-800-iMatrix or chat live with an Internet Consultant.