Google+ Local is the former Google Places page with a new look and feel. Currently, it has the same functionality as before except that you can no longer upload videos or share an update. I miss the "share an update" feature – being able to update your customers of new happenings, menu changes, an event coming up, whatever you felt like posting, it was easy to use and worked most of the time. No worries – once your Google+ Local page is fully upgraded you will have all of the functionality that a Google+ page has – creating circles, sharing posts, uploading videos, hosting a video Hangout, and so much more.

Google+ Local – What You Need to Know Now

  • The biggest change is that Google+ Local has a whole new look – Photos are at the top of the page and your business information stands out more.
  • Right now, if you have a Google+ Account and a Google+ Local Account, they need to be managed separately. In the future both accounts will be combined into one by Google.
  • All of the information that was on your Google Places page transferred over to the new Google+ Local page. You are still able to manage your information via your dashboard.
  • Google+ Local integrated the Zagat scoring system for reviews – you will no longer see the review star system. Here's more on how the Google+ Local scores are determined.
  • In order for customers to leave a review, they need to have a Google+ account. You may want to provide instructions and information about the new scoring system when asking customers for reviews.
  • In the coming months, Google will be making updates to Google+ local, making it easier for local businesses to take full advantage of Google+'s features, especially for those of you who have already verified your Google Place page.

What's To Come

Once Google+ and Google+ Local are combined, you will have all the functionality as one. Google has already combined (upgraded) some businesses. To give you an idea of what your upgraded Google+ Local page will feature, here are some businesses that Google already upgraded on the Google and Your Business blog. Go to the bottom of the blog post where you see "More changes coming soon for business owners". Here's one example page:

 

For those of you that don't have a Google+ Plus account, here's a blog post from Search Engine People titled Google+ Great Redesign Local Businesses take advantage. It will give you an idea of what you can do as a business with your Google+ Local page once your page has all of the Google+ features.

FAQs: Google+ Local

This list of Google+ Local FAQs in the Google and Your Business Forum will help with many of the questions you may have about customers posting reviews, your Google+ and Google+ Local accounts, when the accounts will be as one and what should you as a business do now. If you don't see what you are looking for post your question in the Google and Your Business forum.

Top Blogs on Google+ Local and Local Search

There are some really great "blogs" that post up-to-date information about Google+ Local and local search. The people that host these blogs are experts on Google+ Local and local search. They are dedicated individuals that get the answers from Google and are sincere in helping local businesses succeed. I often wonder when they eat or sleep. Here's my list of favorite websites on Google+ Local and local search. I personally love reading the comments. They are interactive and informative and help make a blog a great blog.

  • Understanding Google Places & Local Search Developing Knowledge About Local Search: Mike Blumenthal hosts this blog. He is a top contributor in the Google and Your Business Forum and Get Listed.org. This is the number one blog! The Wall Street Journal of Google+ Local and Local Search. Many of the comments are made by the pioneers and experts of local search. It's a daily must read!
  • Catalyst Marketing Linda Buquet is a wealth of information and always on top of Google+ Local and local search. Her blog is another "daily must read"! Linda is a Top Contributor in the Google and Your Business forum and has helped elSue and other businesses on numerous occasions. You will find Linda on LinkedIn as well.
  • Local Visibility Systems Phil Rozek is a savvy, creative blogger – I look forward to every post. He explains Google+ Local and local search in his own style and is always on top of what is going on. Phil recently has become a contributor to David Nihm's annual Local Search Ranking Factors. This alone acknowledges he is an expert in his field.
  • MIHMORANDUM blog David Nihm's world class search expert's blog. David specializes in local search engine marketing. He and Mike Blumenthal both host and speak at Get Listed University where they provide a series of Search Engine Optimization Seminars created specifically for Small Business Owners

These are the top blogs I keep up with that the main focus is on Local Search Engine Optimization. There are many more great blogs on Local Search, these are my 'favorites". Leave a comment below if you have a favorite blog on Local Search Optimization.

Google and Your Business Forum Top Contributors

When you go into the Google and Your Business Forum, there are Top Contributors that frequent the forum to help with your issue(s). They are volunteers and have excellent product knowledge in local search and Google+ Local. As Google states on their Become a Top Contributor Page "only the best forum members are invited to be a Top Contributor and are granted a Top Contributor badge". You will notice that many of the Top Blog hosts are Top Contributors in the forum. Following is a list of badges that indicate their level of participation in the forum.

Here's a list of some of the Top Contributors for Google and Your Business Forum. Included is a short bio of each one of them. We have come to know Linda from Catalyst as she was the first Top Contributors to help elSue with an issue we posted in the Google Places Forum when we started our business. We highly respect Linda and all of the other Top Contributors.

You will notice that many of the Top Contributors at Google and Your Business forum are hosts of the Top Blogs on Google+ Local and local search. You will come to know and appreciate them as we have.

Step-by-Step Transition

Mike Blumenthal states the following in his blog post "An Updated Step By Step Guide for the SMB to the Google+Local Page Transition".

  • Google is upgrading a very complex system. Over the next few weeks and months changes will continue to roll out.
  • During the process issues are going to occur
  • For a FAQ on the many changes that occurred last week see Mike's post Google+ Local: Q's and some A's

Included in the post is a Google For Business Forum wrap-up video with Jade Wang, Community Manager at Google, which covers the state of the bugs during the change and other informative updates on the change. Jade points out that the stand alone Google+ local page will be integrated into the full interface of Google+ Business Pages. If you are a storefront business and want to sign up to try it out before all businesses are upgraded, you can fill out a Upgrade Request form.

Wrap-it-up

The past couple of weeks have been challenging and interesting to say the least. The end result is going to be positive for local businesses. We want the most up-to-date, accurate information for our clients and have done our homework. Read the top blogs, follow Jade Wang on Google+, checkout the FAQs, Google and Your Business forum weekly wrap-up and setup a Google+ account to start leaving reviews of your favorite places. Familiarize yourself with Google+ so that when your Google+ Local page has full functionality, you can market and brand your business online and bring awareness to new customers as to who you are and what you have to offer. We will post updates on the elSue Blog and Search Engine People. Please leave your comments and or questions! Thanks!

(If you liked this, you might also enjoy The Local Search Plus Box )

Susan Walsh

WordPress websites and local search engine optimization is our specialty.

elSue Blog

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4 Responses to “Google+ Local: What You Need to Know Now, The Top Blogs & Where to Get Help”

  1. Linda Buquet says:

    Great really thorough overview Susan!

    Thanks so much for mentioning my blog, for the very kinds words and also for drawing attention to the Google Top Contributors that volunteer time helping folks in the forum.

    We appreciate you!

  2. Susan, an excellent resource for information…

    I have a Google+ business page and have upload videos. Would you recommending as a Toronto-based business (with clients primarily in the area) that I should have a local page as well or instead of? Thank you.

  3. Susan Walsh says:

    Hi Maureen,

    Sorry for the delay in my response. Yes, you should have a Google+ Local (formally Google Places) page too. If optimized properly, it's a great way for your business to be found in Google search. I do see that McCabe Marketing, Toronto, Ontario, Canada has a Google+ Local page http://goo.gl/maps/6cuuh

    Keep on top of the blogs I mentioned in this post, they are the experts and provide the information needed to manage your page. If you have questions be sure to go and post it in the Google and Your Business Forum. They are there to help!

    Thank you for your comment.
    Susan