What if you found out that someone was changing one of the key parts of your marketing program that you relied on most for sales without you knowing it?
Don’t look now. It’s happening.
Google Places was the largest local business directory in the United States. It had over 50 million listings of local businesses.
Those local business listings were automatically displayed whenever someone put a geographic indicator (city, state or zip code) in a search query in the world’s most used search engine - Google. Whether you did anything to list your business in Google Places or not, you probably had a listing and if you market to people in a defined geography, you were very likely getting foot traffic or website traffic from this key source.
A little more than a week ago, Google turned off its Google Places product and started migrating all of that data to a new product called Google+ Local.
If everything was working so well, why did that do that?
1) Google is trying to merge the act of on-line searching with the rest of your world. They are trying to combine search with personal recommendations or word of mouth referrals to make the act of selecting one of the results on the search engine results page even easier.
2) Google is trying to get more people to use its new product Google+.
Google+ is Google’s somewhat new social media product. Yes, from an overall concept perspective it is a bit like Facebook, but the most important distinguishing feature is how it works with Google search. When you have a Google+ account and you click the +1 button that is appearing on Google organic search results, Google Pay Per Click ads and now, many websites, anyone of your “friends” that also have a Google+ account will see that you have a relationship with the business behind the +1 button that you clicked.
So imagine doing a search and seeing a full page of results, but this time one of them has your friend’s name underneath it indicating he or she had a positive experience with that company. You are much more likely to click on that search result regardless of where it falls on the page.
Your Google+ Local page is like your Google Places page in that it shows important information about your business to people searching for local businesses. If you had a Google Place page previously (even if you never asked for one), then you now have a Google+ Local page. It also brings a couple new features to you as a business that we will write about later.
Here’s the problem.
The data migration, as you might expect in moving data this large, is not flawless. Important prospects and customers may not be seeing accurate, or attractive or persuasive information about your business.
If you were not actively managing your Google Places account, the first thing you need to do is to start grabbing a hold of this marketing channel by the tail. Go to maps.google.com and search for your business. Click on your listing then click on “more info” in the flag on the map on the right.
If you see incorrect information, or wrong photos or it just doesn’t look like it is the right presentation of your company, check back here in a few days and we’ll post how to properly edit your listing.