Why Can't You Use Google Plus And Google Places To Increase Impressions and Traffic to your Site?
Confused about how Google Places is different from Google+ Local? You aren't alone. Do you need one, both, or neither? Google hasn't made it easy for small, local businesses to understand, and it's left many frustrated and annoyed. Let's clear up the confusion.
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Google Places is the information that a search engine receives and uses when listing your business. A search engine will probably already have your business listed in results, but your Google Places page allows you to control what information Google has and presents to searchers about your business. You can fill in your Places page with information like a description, images, hours of operation, and contact information.
You manage all of this information in your Google Places dashboard, so you can change it anytime you wish. You have to sign up for Google Places here, fill in your information, and then verify your account – you have to verify either by phone or by mail, which Google will walk you through, and then you're set to go and start taking control of your brand.
Google+ Local for Businesses is all about the social aspect of search. This is where you connect with customers and/or others in the industry by putting them in your circles (similar to "friends" on Facebook or "followers" on Twitter).
Those who have your company in their circles will be able to see updates from your company, whether it be blog posts or just a general comment on the feed, as well as see Zagat reviews for your company.
Your general business information and photos are also visible to help give social users the full picture of your company. You are in control of adding in all of this information as well as updating your feed as you wish (just like the way if works for Facebook).
What is particularly interesting about Google+ is the idea that Google is starting to offer personalized search results based on your Google+ connections. For example, if person A puts your company in his/her search results, then when person A searches for something related to your company you are more likely to pop up at the top of that SERP. If person B types in that exact same query but does not have you in his/her Google+ circles, you might pop up at the very bottom of the SERP instead.
It's very important for businesses to get involved in Google Places as well as Google+ Local for two major reasons:
First, it helps to put you in control of your brand. Whether you like it or not, your company is going to be mentioned somewhere on the Internet, either by clients or customers. You want to make sure that the right information about your company is displayed, and Google+ and Google Places allow you to do just that. You can update your contact information, images, etc. and you can connect with customers and answer their questions or respond to their online reviews.
Second, it helps you gain increased visibility. As discussed above, Google is beginning to move to a more holistic approach to search results. Link building is still important, but social (amongst others) is starting to become just as much of a ranking factor. The more information you can give Google, the better.
In the end, both are free to set up and easy to use. At last count, some 100 billion searches are conducted on Google every month.