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What Photographers Need to Know About the Google Places and Google Plus Local Merge

01 June

In January I predicted 3 things to focus on this year in the world of SEO and online marketing, and while my 1st prediction, Pinterest, was a no-brainer. And my 2nd, Google Plus, was going to have a large impact on Search, I had no idea that the 2nd, and the 3rd, Local Search, would actually come together in as a whole new creature. Well yesterday Google announced it. All Places Pages have now become a Google Plus Local Page. And if you’d like to read more about it, you can hop over to the Google And Your Business blog.

I’m not here to break the news, but prepare photographers for the changes and what’s to come. Yes, there’s more to come.

First and foremost… 

  • All Places Pages have already been converted to Google Plus Local Pages.
  • If you have already claimed your Places Page, you will still manage your new Google Plus Local Page from the same place.
  • If you have a Google Plus Business Page also, don’t fret, the accounts will be able to link in the coming weeks. Hopefully they combine the two accounts into one for ease of use. Google is still recommending people to sign up for Business Pages on Google Plus, so there is definitely some thought going on that we haven’t seen yet.

The Changes

Here is what people will see while doing a search. It looks similar whether logged in or not. In this case I searched for “Folsom Wedding Photographers,” and of course, friend and client Teresa K‘s listing pops up to the top of the Local Listings pack. You can see that instead of the old Star rating, she has a new score out of 30. Hers is 30/30 cause she’s so damn awesome at what she does. If you click on the Title, you’ll be taken to her website, but if you click on the “14 Google reviews” she has (let this be a lesson to you all that reviews are important! We’ll touch a little more on that in a bit.), you will be taken to the new Google Plus Local Page.

Below are two examples of what the page looks like when logged out and logged in to Google Plus. Aside from having the Sidebar and Hangout window available to you, there is a nice little difference on this page, and that is the addition of the +1, Share and Add Public Photos. That makes this page truly social in that these features all are tied into their Google+ accounts. Ultimately it will affect SEO as well for people with Google + accounts. All the +1’s and Shares will shape people’s Google Circles, and impact the way people see search results.

The other thing that will enhance SEO is that these pages will be Indexed in with Organic Results (not just part of the Local results)! This could give you an additional advantage over your competitors if you are keeping your Google Plus Local Page updated and well optimized.

Now to utilize Google +

  • Reviews: Reviews are one of the reasons why some businesses show up ranked higher in Local Results. In the example above, with Teresa K you can see that she is well cemented in the first position and has 9 more reviews that anyone else. If you have a Reviews page on your website that points to things like Yelp and Wedding Wire, you’ll need to change the URL to your Google Reviews page now.
    If you don’t have a Reviews Page, you should create one right now.
  • Circles: I don’t think I need to mention that the larger your Circles, the more influence you will have on people, and the people in their Circles as well. That being said, go add me to your Circles now. 🙂
  • Update your Google Plus page. Whether or not you use it as much as Facebook, the more you use Google Plus, the bigger advantage you’ll have over your competition when it comes to Google Search. I’ve heard the complaints about the lack of adoption and I can totally get it. Stick with it though, and there’s nothing saying you have to devote major hours daily to it. A weekly update may just be enough. You’ll have to gauge it based off of your own experience and what you see your competitors doing with it. (Keep me informed).

Now go forth and get Reviews! 🙂

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