Local Store Marketing just got interesting. The emphasis of local search and local social media interactions, in the vein of strong local marketing tactics, just got underscored tenfold. In my last article, I highlighted why all national brands with a focus on local marketing automation platforms need to pay attention to the local search opportunity. I also promised that I'd "prove that localizing search is a huge strategic priority for search engines like Google".
Well - Google just proved that for me last week.
As previously indicated, Google Places merged with Google Plus last week - yielding Google + Local Pages. Over 80 million Google Places pages were affected with Places pages automatically become Google + Local. As such, social reviews and other commentary merges with one of the most important parts of Google's Local Search engine. And remember Google's purchase of Zagat back in September? Google gets rid of its 5-star rating system, and adds Zagat's 30-point scale Google.com searches, Google Maps, and on mobile devices.
And the biggest change......Google + Local Pages will now be indexed (and most likely featured prominently), while Places - the previous cornerstone of Google's local search algorithms, was phased out. As SearchEngineLand.com aptly named it, "Google + Just Became the Center of Local Search". HOLY BATMAN!
For those local marketers that have been on Facebook, Twitter, and/or LinkedIn, but have kept Google+ on the side because of user adoption issues, this is now your reason to get on board. Aside from the social media benefits, there will undoubtedly be huge lifts as it relates to getting found in Google's Local Search algorithms. Much like how Google Places became optimized with content and reviews from consumers, Google + Local Pages will need interaction and consistent use from its owners. The worlds of social and search are now visibly merging.
Let's take a look at how it works. Type in a familiar consumer keyword in Google with the town you are in. In my case, I chose hamburgers in Miami Beach.
When you click on the reviews link, you get taken to Google+. From there, you can explore the Google+ Local page of that business, or as a user, you can navigate to other businesses in your area using that same keyword by re-type in the search.
In the midst of all the changes happening daily in the world of social media and technology, its difficult for small business owners to keep up. And this puts a larger onus on national brands with local market presence. As SearchEngineLand.com puts it: ".....business owners are effectively being dropped into the social fray with more customer-interaction potential but also greater demands to learn how to use Google+ to their full advantage. Those who do will be rewarded. There’s a ton of SEO potential here. "
About the Author
Jared is the Founder and Managing Partner of SproutLoud. Since 2005, he has been primarily responsible for strategic direction of the Company, as well as the oversight of SproutLoud's Partner ecosystem. Prior to SproutLoud, Jared worked in Thomas Weisel Partner’s internet and online advertising investment banking practice in San Francisco. He served as the lead analyst on a number of Corporate Finance and M&A deals including Newscorps’ buyout of Intermix Media (Myspace.com). Jared graduated with a B.A. in Finance and Marketing from the McIntire School of Commerce at the University of Virginia. Jared has an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and is a member of the Young President's Organization (YPO). Jared has been honored as one of the Top 40 under 40 entrepreneurs by South Florida Business Journal and a Top 50 Entrepreneur by Business Leader Magazine. Jared lives in South Florida with his wife and two sons.More Content by Jared Shusterman