[box color=”blue-vibrant” type=”round” icon=”caution”]UPDATE: Google is now merging Maps, Places and Google+ into what they’re calling “Google+ Local”, so all features can be found in one place.[/box]
There was a lot of talk surrounding Google’s introduction of its very own social networking platform: Google Plus. How would it fare next to giants like Facebook and Twitter? While it seems the comparative success of Google Plus is still up in the air in regards to mainstream social networking, many loyal fans of Google Plus argue that the relatively new social media site does fill a creative niche that sets it apart from its competitors. Businesses, especially, are finding that a Google Plus business page can pack a lot of punch when it comes to marketing, branding, and building a credible Internet presence. As a matter of fact, Google recently made Google Plus business pages virtually mandatory for businesses concerned with maintaining the web status quo, with the announcement that Google Plus is completely absorbing Google Places, in the form of Google Plus Local. If you find yourself in the position of making that all-important switch from Google Places to Google Plus Local, then here are some things you should know:
The social aspect. Google’s original intent with Google Places was to provide an outlet for vendors to interact with their customers. However, that concept never came to light, as Google Places pages were ultimately too static and limited to allow for much back-and-forth interaction. Google Plus Local is the solution to that issue, and it promises to enable real-time interaction between businesses and their customers. Businesses will now be able to grow a following and send out direct messages to them, as well as post regular updates. Additionally, both businesses and customers will be able to filter, search, and organize their contacts in Google + circles.
More ways to connect. Now, instead of displaying a business’ page in a list of search engine results, Google will provide web surfers with more interactive Google + Local pages by way of several different avenues. In addition to Google.com search engine results pages, Google + Local listings will also appear when users search Google Maps and Google Plus, and also when they make use of Google mobile apps.
New review ratings. Whereas Google Places relied on a 5-star scales to convey average user review ratings, the new Google + format makes use of something called the Zagat score. The Zagat score is more comprehensive – including marks for a number of categories related to each specific type of business – and the 0 to 30 range is therefore indicative of a business’ rating on a broad range of factors.
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