On May 30th Google converted 80 million Google Places pages into Google+ Local pages
Franchise online marketers are now overseeing an empire, not just a kingdom. Their reach is offline and online, in websites, directories, social media, mobile devices, and beyond. And this empire continues to grow and change. Google's recent change to Google Places is no exception to how a franchise must watch their empire.
As a result, franchise marketers are scrambling to determine: the impact of these changes on their network of locations; any changes they need to make; how to manage the new Google+ Local pages; and determine how Google+ users are affected.
First, let's take a look at what changed. The old static Google Places page will now be a more dynamic social environment where business owners can engage with customers, and friends can recommend local businesses based on their personal experiences.
1) A brief overview of what's new and what's changing
- The substitution of the new Google+ Local pages for Google Places pages.
- The appearance of a "Local" tab within Google+.
- The integration and free availability of Zagat reviews.
- The integration of Google+ Local pages across Google properties (search, maps, mobile).
- Integration of a circles filter to find reviews and recommendations from friends, family, and colleagues.
2) What's critical for franchise marketers to know
- You will still be able to manage your Google+ Local page through the Google Places dashboard for the foreseeable future.
- You will still be able to respond to reviews through the Google Places dashboard.
- Existing Google+ business pages will eventually get linked to matching new Google+ Local pages.
- In your Places dashboard, clicking on "view" or "see your listings..." is still directing users to the old Google Places pages. Google is working on this (as of this writing).
3) What Google says about managing your Google+ Local page
"If you are a business owner, you should continue to manage your information in Google Places for Business. You'll still be able to verify your basic listing data, make updates, and respond to reviews. For those who use AdWords Express, your ads will operate as normal as they'll automatically redirect people to the destination you selected, or your current listing."
4) A snapshot of how existing Google+ users be affected
For Google+ users, Google has added a new tab to the sidebar of the Google+ page named "Local." Clicking that local tab will allow the logged in Google+ user to find local businesses that interest them based on their friends' reviews or check-ins (coming soon) to these businesses. This logged-in search will include the previously mentioned social filters and new Zagat ratings to produce a rich, personally customized search experience.
5) Additional resources on Google+ Local
- An introductory video on the new Google+ Local pages.
- Google's own web page on Google+ Local.
- "8 Tips for Optimizing Google Places for Every Location," a 54-minute webinar we hosted earlier this month.
Jeremy LaDuque is co-founder and CEO of Elements, a provider of online marketing tools for franchise companies. In 2001, the firm created ElementsLocal, a franchise marketing tool used by more than 3,000 clients to manage their local online marketing activities. Elements, founded in 1999, is based in San Luis Obispo, Calif. To learn more, contact him at (805) 547-1160 or info@elem