In May 2012, Google announced that its Places feature would be replaced by Google+ Local – a tab within the search engine’s own social media network. Users will be able to view a series of businesses sorted by industry in the Google+ Local tab in the sidebar, which can drive more traffic to brick-and-mortar locations and increase social referral traffic back to branded websites. While this upgrade has been available to users for some time, Google only recently upgraded its backend offerings for business owners.
A Google and Your Business blog post outlined new updates on the business-facing side of Google+ Local. The tool will allow Page managers to optimize their profiles for greater visibility in search engine results pages. The new dashboard resembles the aesthetics of Google and its social network, finally connecting the dots between the engine’s variety of services for businesses. Overall, three major updates were implemented to improve Google+ marketing opportunities.
1. A new and intuitive interface – Google+ Page managers can now access their Local listings while logged into their social media accounts. This allows marketers to manage their entire Google+ presence from one interface, and it also helps professionals keep a close eye on the information displayed to new and existing customers within SERPs.
2. Integration with Google products – The new Local dashboard gives Page owners a way to leverage the social functions of Google+. For example, local business owners can share photos, videos or posts, and those files will be displayed on their Google+ Local Pages, too.
3. Faster updates for business owners – Google promised that it would provide faster data updates, saying that most updates to its services will happen within 48 hours.
Marketers focusing on local SEO to increase brand awareness and visibility in Google SERPs will be pleased to hear that Google+ Local is completely operational and optimized for marketing purposes. Now Page managers can target customers within certain geographic areas, allowing them to create custom content that speaks to regional trends.