Our last Google Places themed blog post titled 10 Advanced Google Places optimisation techniques was published just before Google’s announcement of Google+ Local - it’s new platform that integrates Google Places with it’s fledgling social media platform: Google+. As Google + Local is now quite a mature platform, this blog post covers all you need to know about the Google+ Local and more importantly, how to go about optimisation. A lot of the previous optimisation tips still hold true but with the old Google Places ‘Star Review’ engine now retired, there are a number of changes you need to know when optimising your Google+ Local page. Here goes…
#1. Review Star Ratings Replaced by Zagat Ratings
Zagat was acquired by Google for $151 million in September 2011 – for those who don’t know: it is a U.S. based restaurant and diner review rating system that also rates entertainment venues like hotels, shops and theaters. Zagat was established in 1979 as a guide book that evolved to subscription based website and mobile app.
Their rating system is now free to view on Google+ Local and is based on individual user scores on a 0 to 3 point scale across 1-4 categories that is multiplied by 10 and arrives at an average score range of 0-30.
On Google+ Local, Zagats rating system rates restaurants, diners and eateries on a 4-category basis: by ‘Food’, ‘Decor’, ‘Service’ and ‘Cost‘ – we found that other businesses in tourism and shopping have custom 3-category rating systems (see the slideshow below).
Whilst ratings of other types of businesses are based on a a single-category basis of ‘Quality’ with 4 fixed options: Poor-Fair, Good, Very Good and Excellent along with a description field to describe their experience with the business:
#2. Only Google+ Users Can Leave Reviews
Google wants reviews to be more human, transparent and authentic – so have made it compulsory for users to have a Google+ account before they are able to review a local business page. This move is also geared to increase Google plus’ userbase. Notice that some older reviews would be seen as reviews from a “Google User” which implies that the reviewer does not have a Google+ Profile and left the review prior to the switch to Google+ Local.
#3. Reviews are now Public
It is also compulsory that reviews show your profile photo along with a link to your Google+ profile page are made public on all reviews:
#4. 10 Reviews Are Required for a Ratings Display
The old Google Places, required business owners to acquire five reviews in order for a star rating to appear on their listing and the search result. Google+Local’s 30-point rating system, requires a minimum of ten reviews to display a number based rating on Google+ Local Pages and search results.
#5 Merge Your Google+ Business Verified Google+Local Pages
As soon as you have completed your Google+ Business page PIN verification (by post card), it merges with your Google+ Local page listing along with older reviews. Meaning that you can now manage both your Google+ business page & Google+ Local page listing from the same place.
The benefits of merging your Google+ page with your Google Local page is that it will enable you connect directly with your fanbase on Google+ and serve as a potential dynamic business hub where you can encourage fans to leave reviews. If Here is a step by step verification guide:
- Step 1: Create a Google+ Business Page.
- Step 2: When you are logged into your Business Page, on the top right corner you would see and ‘Unverified’ status – hover over it and click on ‘Verify now’
- Step 3: You would be offered a list of Local business listings to associate your business with – choose your Google Local Listing Page
- Step 4: You would be asked to agree to the terms and conditions and would be given an option of entering the name of your organisation’s contact person
- Step 5: Google would send a well marked post card with your verification PIN number usually within a week.
- Step 6: Log back into your Google+ page – the status would have changed from ‘Verify now’ to ‘In Progress’
- Step 7: Hoover over ‘In Progress’ and then enter your verification PIN and it is completed!
#6. ‘Best Ever’ Reviews & Old Reviews with No Text Are Integrated Into New Score But Do not get Displayed
Remember the ‘Best Ever’ reviews? Well on Google + Local, they are not displayed as reviews but have been integrated into the total number of reviews count. The same would apply to prior old style star ratings without review content.
Note that although old star rated reviews without content are not displayed as reviews on Google + Local, they are factored into the new overall score.
#7. Reviews made by Google+ Friends are More Prominent & Featured
Google+ prioritises and features reviews made by friends in your circle over other reviews when you are logged into a business page. This reinforces social proof and would hopefully get more people to trust a company more (as their friends have made a recommendations that is featured over all other recommendations).