ICS Magazine

Google Places No More, Meet Google Plus (Local)

August 1, 2012
google plus logo colorful background

You may be wondering why your Google Places profile has drastically changed. Not only did it change, but Google morphed it into a different type of profile. It’s now part of Google Plus Local.

Not only did they switch Google Places to Google Plus, but they also changed the review system. Now, your Google Plus Local profile will be reviewed with the Zagat rating system. This is somewhat good because now you can get more detailed reviews from clients. The drawback is that your client must have a Google Plus account if they want to review you. Unfortunately, this adds one more hoop for your clients to jump through before they can give you a review.

Why is Google requiring small businesses to be part of Google Plus? I personally feel that Google is frightened because people spend more time on Facebook. Google attempted Google Plus as a social media outlet a couple of years ago, but it never really caught on. Historically, social media hasn’t done very well with Google. So now, Google is turning to a large segment of the population who relies on them: business owners. If they require businesses to participate in Google Plus, it’s a bump in traffic. And who knows, Google Plus may someday be competition for Facebook.   

The transformation hasn’t exactly been smooth. During some of this integration, you may have experienced your Google Places (now Google Plus Local) profile getting deleted. I’ve personally seen dozens of problems with cleaning company profiles having bad or missing information. Another very common problem lately is the profile going under review or in pending status for several weeks. Some profiles even have the wrong phone or address. Make sure you check your profile by going to www.Google.com and searching for your company name along with your city name. Verify that your information is correct. If it’s incorrect, report it to Google right away.

Now here are some of the good points. First, features like Google Maps, Google Mobile and various other Google features will be integrated. This can provide a better user experience for you and your prospects. My favorite point is that, if used correctly, Google Plus can actually help your company rank higher in the search engines and help you get more clients.  

This is an excellent opportunity for cleaning and restoration companies. I know what you’re thinking. You barely understood Google Places and you hardly even use Facebook, so the last thing you want is to get into another social media site. Let me assure you the benefits outweigh the hassle. In order for this benefit to happen, you need to get involved, at least a little, with Google Plus. Below are some tips on what you’ll want to do.

Three profiles to concentrate on with Google Plus:

  1. Personal profile: You’ll need this first. Go to https://plus.google.com and fill in the information to create your personal profile.
  2. Local profile: This should already be automatically created for you when Google transformed your Google Places profile into your Google Plus Local profile. But you’ll still need to confirm that your information is correct. Simply search for it as you would to find your Google Places profile or log into your Google account. You may be able to find your Google Plus Local profile at www.google.com/places if you can’t locate it in the Google search.
  3. Business profile: Just to complicate things a bit more, Google decided to allow businesses to also have a dedicated business page. This is similar to Facebook’s Fan page for businesses. Simply go to www.google.com/+/business and fill out your profile.

In addition to the three profiles you should concentrate on above, you should show some activity in your Google Plus profiles. This doesn’t require any daily effort. You just want to spend an hour or two every couple of weeks.

Do this in your Google profiles:

  1. Get friends and circles. Google wants to see interaction. Look up people in our industry (search for me and add me) as well as people in your city.
  2. Post once in a while. Make sure your profile isn’t a ghost town. Make a few initial posts and then return once every week or two to post. Post about happenings in your company and community.
  3. Check in and encourage others to check in. If you have a physical location, encourage people to “check in” on their mobile phones. This will show your activity and participation. In addition, you should check in at location establishments to show your activity in the community.
  4. Get reviews: Ask others who have a Gmail address or who are part of Google Plus to give you reviews. Reviews not only help provide testimonials, but they also help to boost your rankings.

Soon Google Plus will be a huge factor in how cleaning and restoration websites rank.  Get a jump-start on this now! You’ll have a small lead over your competition if you get into Google Plus and show some activity. Google always ranks websites better when they prove activity with other reputable websites. They especially like it when you participate in programs that Google offers. 

All of the tips recommended here are free. Yes, it will take you a few hours of time.  But this time will be very well spent investing in your business and your Internet marketing campaign. The more time you invest in promoting your company online, the more clients you’ll get as a result.