Last week, before his presentation, I was able to have lunch with Mike Blumenthal, who was the local search authority long before I started doing this SEO thing 5 years ago. I initially asked him to go through what he does step-by-step when he gets a new client, as well as what needs to happen once he’s past the initial setup of the account. One of the most reassuring things I learned from this lunch was that here at Launch I am doing the exact same things that Mike is doing.
In his presentation, he went on to explain the history of local search optimization and how it has evolved over the last few years due to the constant changes being implemented by Google. He actually used a SERP from AOL to comparatively explain the “Anatomy of a Google Local Search” and the similarities between the two. It was amazing, and I’m pretty sure it was the first time AOL has been brought up at an SMX event.
The point here is that change is on the horizon. Google+ Local is going to be the biggest change that I’ve seen since I started paying attention to local search. The integration of Google Business Pages and Google+ Local Pages will be coming shortly (4-6 weeks). Until then, here are some tips from Blumenthal’s blog to keep in mind until then:
- Be sure that you upgrade your Google account to a Google+ personal account.
- Go into your Places dashboard and view your Google+ Local listing to make sure that the dashboard is connected to your listing correctly.
- Don’t mess with the data in the dashboard during this transition.
- Start thinking about what you want the new profile to look like. Some nice features include:
- Having multiple pictures in a row more predominately displayed in Google+ Local
- The ability to better show before/after photos
- Multiple other available effects, such as elongated photos
The review system is also going to be changed significantly. In the past, a business owner had a chance to respond to a customer review, but that was it. Helpful? Yes. Constructive? No. The new format will not only cut down on Local Black Hat tactics (fake reviews, bad information, etc.) but will also give the business owner a chance to interact with the customer. If a negative review comes through, they will be able to ask the customer to add them to their circle, after which they will be able to interact with the customer for a chance at re-earning their business.
We are also going to see a good amount of reviews going viral due to the social implications of Google+ sharing and social networking. We’ll see funny, clever, and absolutely atrocious reviews getting shared. We kind of see it now via Reddit, Digg, and other viral producing sites, but this will become much more prominent with the new system.