Making that first impression
Everyone will tell you that first impressions matter. Whether you are meeting someone face to face for the first time, or they are visiting your website, that first impression colours their opinion of you, your business and your professionalism.
So what is Google+ Local?
It used to be Google Places, where businesses could be listed in Google Maps. It’s all those map pins you see when you do a search. For instance, in the regular search, you might see something like this…This is fantastic for businesses trying to get website visits from their local communities. Now as I mentioned, the old Google Places pages have been replaced by Google+ Local…
So what does a basic Google+ Local (Places) page look like?
The answer is, pretty basic. Below is an old style Google Places page, which has undergone the most basic conversion to Google+ Local. I have masked the business identity to save anyone from embarrassment!
Notice the review section in the About tab pictured above? Reviews can be written by anyone with a Google account and give people using search a strong indication as to the reputation of the business.
The old style Places page were limited in what they could do and what once may have been perfectly acceptable… is no longer the case.
Enter the new Google+ Local profile
When you create a new Google+ Local page, one which was never a Google Places page, you get all the benefits of the old Places pages, plus the full social elements. Want to see what I mean? Well, look here…
The header image for a new Google+ Local page is no longer a map, but a generic background image. The map has been moved down to the contact information card. You can see from the screenshot above that there are now two more tabs. Posts and Videos.
The Posts tab is where the social element comes in. You can post messages, including pictures and videos (hence the tabs) and interact with anyone else on Google+.
Can you get the new Google+ Local for an old Places page?
Yes you can! There is an option to upgrade and merge your old Places page into a full featured Google+ page.
Now the two examples I have given above are actual pages that appear when searching, but both are missing out on a huge opportunity! The header image and space for a logo is a must have and here I will use my own Google+ Local page as an example.
Be social on Google+
Now, I must confess I don’t post using my Google+ Local page. The reason is I created a ‘normal’ Google+ brand page before the Places integration took place and so I spend my time posting as that profile instead. I do post using my other brand page and that is the point. Once you have a brand page, you must use it. Someone visiting a dead page will think just that, it is a dead page and not maintained.
At the very least, post something to let prospective clients know you are real!
For those of you wondering about my own Google+ Local page, I do have a post there, which directs visitors to the main brand page and which you can find here… http://plus.google.com/+AlansITSolutions
What should you do?
Some final thoughts from me. If you have an old Google Places page, update it as soon as possible and make full use of the tools Google have given you. If you have a new or merged Google+ Local page, don’t neglect it! It will show up in search results and that first impression really does matter.
There are a lot of old Places pages out there that have been left for dead, so seize the opportunity to stand out from the crowd and make that profile yours. If you are unsure how to do that, feel free to drop me a line. You could even +mention me or Alan’s IT Solutions on Google+!