Last week Google+, Google’s social network updated their profile pages with larger cover photos, a redesigned “About” tab and created a new “Local reviews” tab. These added features were based on feedback from Google+ users who wanted more editing control, flashier displays and clearer social networking.
The new profile “cover photos” have a much larger display at 2,120px by 1,192px and adjust sizes depending on web browsers, zoom and monitor size. Now that the cover photos have gotten larger, the profile pictures have been reduced from 250x250px to 120x120px, which can be tough for branding purposes. Notice in the screenshot below that the MoreVisibility profile picture is much smaller and the text is not as noticeable.
Google’s justification for the change was as follows, “This way more images can be used as cover photos, and there’s more room for your selection to shine,” It appears Google+ updated their cover photos to almost mimic Facebook’s large background cover.
The ‘About’ section now organizes user info into category boxes created for easier user modifications. These boxes enable Google+ users to edit information from their ‘About’ tab such as education, work, links and places. The information being provided on the ‘About Tab’ is optional and like before, can be hidden or only shared between your selected circles.
Also, along with the cleaner look, Google has added a splash of color above each section, labeling the section’s people – blue, story – red, work – teal and education – yellow. Google is becoming more creative on how they use their logo’s colors and I am sure we will see much more of these colors in the future.
The newest addition to Google+ is the ‘Local review’ tab. The ‘Local review’ tab can be shared within your network of circles, assuming you would rather post your preferences, opinions & reviews on Google+ versus other popular rating sites.
Similar to photos and the +1 buttons, Google+ users now have the ability to highlight reviews for their favorite businesses and share experiences. This is optional and can be hidden within your settings.
Google has hope that with this new tab these recommendations will enhance its own social search results and increase the development of business pages. Chances are this “Local review” tab will most likely become a part of the search integration within the Google platform and this is one thing brands should be aware of. See below for the organic results that auto populated when I typed “Boca Raton, FL” in G+ “Local” search.
Google Plus has added updated their pages to not only benefit personal users, but also to increase the involvement of business pages. Local pages allow businesses to be found by their customers or prospects through better visibility in Google’s search rankings.
This social network is engaging and when pursued effectively, can create buzz for your business, drive traffic to your website and benefit your search results. If you haven’t created a Google Plus business page I would highly recommend starting one now.
Since the launch of Google Plus, we have covered what to expect with a Google+ Business Page and what has happened to Places Listings that merged into Google+ Local. Recently, Google released the ability to merge the Google+ Local listings with a single Google+ Business Page. This functionality is very important, since there are features available on a Google+ Business Page that were not accessible on a Google+ Local listing. The advantages to merging your listings into a single Google+ Business Page include the ability to share updates with photos or videos and links, create Circles (segmented networks of fans), set up Events, host Hangouts that can be linked to your YouTube account and recorded, and include you customer reviews on an SEO optimized About section for your business. We will continue to share more ideas about the social media marketing strategies for a Google+ Business Page in another follow up article. Below are the steps to the verification procedure for merging one Google+ Local Listings into a new, more robust +Business Page.
Step One: Create a profile with a gmail address, this will be the owner of the page, make sure it is unique to the business and not a personal account. Create a Google+ Business Page, if you do not already have one. Populate the “About Info” with keyword rich text and hyperlinks to your website. Upload a profile photo and cover image that will enhance your brand’s exposure. Start adding People, and Pages to circles that are in your scope of interests, to expand your Pages reach in the network.
Step Two: Select the “Verify Now” button next to your Google+ Page name. You will be able to add managers to the Page, and they can perform this action as well. You can add a personal gmail account to be a Page manager, but they will need to have a Google+ Profile activated.
Step Three: Verify your business address. Select the “View Page” to see what your current +Local listing contains. You will be able to compare what information has merged with your existing +Business Page, by keeping a copy of this screen shot in your records.
Step Four: Complete the verification process by requesting a postcard with a pin. Once you receive the postcard in the mail, go to the link provided and validate that you are the business owner. You’ll need to accept the terms and conditions before selecting the “request post card” button.
Once your Google+ Business Page is verified, your Page will be shown to anyone searching in Google Maps, Google Search, and Google Plus. Your business’s reviews will migrate with the about information you have populated on your Page, and have the potential to also appear in search results. It will be important to share updates frequently, so visitors to the Page have a resource for learning about specials, your company, or industry news and trends you provide to your fan base. Google+ users will be able to leave reviews and give your business a rating directly on your page. You might want to consider a way to reward customer reviews, so there is a good representation of positive feedback about your business.
We specialize in social media strategy and search engine optimization for Google+ Business Pages. This network, has the ability to drive traffic to your location as well as enhance your website’s position in natural search results. If you are interested in learning more about the benefits of Google Plus for your business, call us at 800.787.0497 for a free consultation.
Google Places Listings converted to Google+ Local pages, affecting an estimated 80 million business listings worldwide, according to Google’s Marissa Mayer. The Google Businesses Plus Page described the release in a recent post as, “a new way to discover local information across Google.” The Google+ Local pages will be accessible via Google.com and Google Map searches, or from a search using the Google+ Mobile App. There is also new integration of the Zagat ratings system for restaurants and more, where consumer reviews from Google Places have converted from five star ratings to 1-30 point reviews that offer robust criteria to rate services, experience, décor, etc. These reviews will cater personalized recommendations to Google+ users– sorting by circles to reveal reviews or check-ins from people in their network – and will appear in natural search results.
The streamlined design of the Google+ Local pages will include photos, a map of the location, and contact information for the business. It will be important for business owners to find their new Google+ Local page listing, and click on the “manage page” button – located to the lower right – in order to update the page or interact with consumers by having “hangouts” and sharing updates. This interaction is designed to produce a more loyal consumer base, and truly put “word-of-mouth” marketing to work online and offline. As a preview, below are screenshots from the different views to expect when encountering the Google+ Local pages:
Google Maps Search:
Google+ Local Page:
Google+ Local Pages on the Mobile App:
Google+ Local pages will continue to integrate deeper within the social platform. Features like mobile check-in deals – are expected to be released soon. Do you have a business location that needs to be managed and optimized, or questions about participating in Google+? Send those questions by clicking here, calling us at 800.787.0497, or submitting them in the comments below.