I have been urging dentists to claim their Google places page for years. In my opinion places pages are far more important for the typical dental office than having a Facebook page. Now Google has gone and changed everything by converting places to feature Google+. The people at Deploy Dental have written a guest blog that explains it all. (LE)
A Guest blog from Deploy Dental. The opinions expressed are from Deply Dental not Dr. Larry Emmott. However I believe it is valuable for dentists to get various takes on technology issues in order to make good technology choices.
The most recent news that has caused a shake up in Social Media Marketing, is the long awaited announcement that Google is abandoning its traditional system of local listings to instead feature Google+. It’s called Google+ Local, and it is now the standard Google profile for local businesses. It can be found exactly where local listings were previously located, which is in every Google search result page that relates to local businesses or services. In this article we’ll cover all the major changes (so far) and how this update will affect the marketing of local businesses.
Although the appearance of your profile has been changed, almost all of the features and functionality has remained. The exception is the method for user reviews. In September 2011, Google acquired the popular Zagat review system, and now they are putting it to good use. Instead of the traditional 5 star rating scale, Zagat reviews are from 0 to 3. This score is averaged with all users, then multiplied by ten for a maximum score of 30. Currently, most local businesses are only reviewed on a single, general aspect called quality. But, as Google develops this system, don’t be surprised to see multiple rating variables as is already in place with many restaurants. (Restaurants are rated on food, décor, service, and cost.)
Review Others as a Business Owner
Another change is that (once you sign up for Google+ Local and claim your listing) reviews you make of other local businesses will be attached to your business name as well. This significance of this is that it is simply free advertising; a way to get your name and brand to a wider audience. In the local search arena, your exposure had previously been limited to only those people who specifically searched for your service. Now, if you make a wide variety of reviews, your business can be exposed to the entire spectrum of local searches.
This is also a great way to quickly gain some reviews from other local business owners, since they will now know exactly to whom they can attribute what were previously virtually anonymous reviews.
In much the same way that “checking in” at locations has become a popular feature on Facebook and Foursquare, Google+ Local is also looking to make interactions local businesses a matter of public record in Social Media. If a member of your Google+ Social Circles leaves a review, it will immediately be displayed to you when you view that business’s profile. This makes the whole aspect of user reviews much more personal, and, of course, any review from someone you know personally will have a much greater impact on your decision making.
Effects on Marketing
According to Google’s official blog, this is only the first step in what will be many more updates in the coming months. It goes on to read, “Soon we’ll make it even easier for business owners to manage their listings on Google and to take full advantage of the social features provided by local Google+ pages.”
This update from Google only confirms that the social aspect of Google+ Local will become an ever more important to local small business marketing. Pictures, status updates, and videos you post to Google+ will very likely appear on your Google+ Local profile. And, with Google+ Local now at the forefront of search results pages, it is critical that all business owners sign up, claim their listings, and interact with their customers. Your livelihood and reputation depends on it.
As we continue to keep you updated on any additional changes and features of Google+, look for our next article on this topic, in which we’ll break down the entire process of claiming and customizing your Google+ Local profiles.