We all know by now that Google has been mixing up the ways Google local listings are displayed on search results with their Google+ rollouts. Constantly, dental practices get caught up in the meaning and differentiation between these profiles and the changes between them. Often, you may come across at least two types of G+ pages for a single business. One page display looks like a basic, typical page without social and posting functionalities that often contain: patient reviews, location address, Google map, and general information about the business – this is your Google+ Local page. The Google+ Local page was once referred to as your Google Places listing.
Let’s take a look at the main changes of Google Places pages to Google+ Local pages and what this means to your dental practice.
Traditional Google Places are now entirely replaced by new Google+ Local pages. If you previously had a Google Place page these are now automatically converted to the new Google+ Local page layout. This was Google’s effort to rollout their “Plus” experience across all facets of search and their social community. Now, Google+ users have an extra tab on their dashboard that contains “Local”. This provides G+ users the same experience and design when searching for local businesses. However, this “integration” has caused confusion among business owners when managing their Google+ Local page. In order to make any updates or changes to your page, you must still log in through your Google Places dashboard.
Tip: Be sure to claim your Google+ Local page for your dental office so that you can be verified and gain control of your page. DO NOT Claim duplicate listings, as this can only hurt your rankings. Rather, request a removal as a duplicate for other pages. Remember when managing you Google+ Local page, it may take up to 4-6 weeks for changes to update and you may need to re-verify your listing if you make major changes like an address location.
Google Place pages utilized reviews that were once based on a star rating scale of 1-4. With the new Google+ Local pages, they now utilize the Zagat 30-point scale for user reviews. How does this affect your business? Instead of general 1-4 stars, the rating is now based on several factors such as food/product, cost, service, and atmosphere. Now, users can rate your business across several factors – allowing more accurate reviews instead of a broad rating.
Tip: Be sure to be proactive with your patient reviews; not only will it help increase your web presence but it will also improve your overall business operations as well. Encourage your customers to give feedback so you can continue to provide them the service they want.
In the past, Google Places page were simple and straight forward information containing: addresses, map location, reviews, and a short description. Now Google+ Local pages offer a much more dynamic experience with profile photos, in-depth reviews, and a much more interactive display. Google+ Local Page design is meant to complement the Google+ “ecosystem” and to provide a similar user experience across the different Google products.
Tip: Make sure to submit high quality photos to help differentiate your Google+ Local page from other competitors in your area. While this won’t have dramatic effects on your rankings, it will entice more clicks based on a visual traction and provide more value to potential customers.
Remember, the next time you see your Google+ Local page, you now know that this was once your Google Place listing and it is a part of Google rolling out their Google+ experience across the search experience. One last tip: Do not confuse this with your Google+ Business Page, as of now these are two separate entities. Be sure to read our next post – “Google+ Local vs. Google+ Business Page” to understand the differences and what this means to your business.
Don’t worry if these Google terms keep confusing you between Google+, Google+ Local, Google Places, etc. Google most likely understands that this is confusing for everyone – even for themselves and I’m sure that we will see another update in the future (may be the reason for such delays and pause on submission changes). Either way, whether this change will be everything branded through the Google+ dashboard or if “Places” will remain separate entities, we will just have to see what happens in the next few months.