The former Google Places ratings for local businesses have now been replaced with the more advanced Zagat rating system now incorporated into Google+ Local. Is your business showing well for these searches? Do you have a reliable way to request that happy customers leave positive reviews? (Hint: this is crucial!)
All Google+ users can now see a new tab on their stream called “Local.” Clicking it, you can check out what’s around you. Dining, services, and every other kind of business are all just a click away from around 200 million users of Google+.
And it has a scoring system which decides what local establishments it shows by default when clicking the Local button. In short, the business with most positive reviews gets featured.
Furthermore, these local pages are being indexed by Google so that they show up in search results (right above your regular website perhaps)
From the next web:
In addition to all of the social hooks having to do with Google+, Zagat reviews are the absolute centerpiece of the new product. The company has been pulling in reviews from all different sources, surveys, and written submissions for about 32 years, so there’s a lot of information to be integrated.
When you find a venue through Google+ Local, you’ll see the Zagat rating based on its 30-point scale. No longer will you see the Google Places five-star rating system, which was difficult to decipher. For restaurants, the Zagat score is broken up into categories like food and decor so you can make the right decision for yourself.
What does this mean for your local business? If you had a Places page with reviews, the basic information gets carried over, but not the reviews. This means you will need to ask your customers to sign up for Google + if they have not already and leave a positive review (offer them some sort of discount as incentive). As the local pages will now show up in local search results and Google will rank the pages based on reviews, getting these reviews is key.
Google is essentially asking small businesses to help them build out their Google+ system by asking customers to sign up, start engaging and leaving reviews. Crazy – like a fox – and smart.
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