Your Google+ Page is Way More Important Than You Think

How important is your Google+ Page?
If you’re a local business, it’s more important than you think.

Google+? The barely used social network by Google? Why would that be important? All I hear about is how no one uses their Google+ profile. I’ve been ignoring it and I’m not even sure if my business has a profile there.

For private individuals, ignoring Google+ is just fine, but, if you own a business, the kind that people search for on Google…ignore Google+ at your peril. Leaked documents from Yelp exposed by technology blog TechCrunch, reveal that Yelp believes Google is preferencing Google results and contents in its search results. This of course hurts Yelp because it pushes results from Yelp’s site further down the page.

The documents show evidence that Google displays its own content first. For example, in this search for “restaurants san mateo”, the top black bar of results is a highly noticeable carousel that takes its content from Google. The reviews come from Google+ (and from Zagat which is owned by Google).

 

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When a potential customer clicks on one of the results in the carousel, a Google content card pops up. That card occupies about half of the right hand side of the screen so it’s hard to miss. It includes content from various Google services: directions from Google Maps, opening hours, photos and links to other relevant services around the web (for example, to OpenTable for making a reservation) and, of course, it has reviews and an overall rating based on them.

 

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Of course Yelp is up in arms about this because all this Google content front and center reduces the likelihood consumers will go to Yelp to find out about a business. Why would they? They have all the info they need in that content card. Fewer consumers means less money for Yelp, which makes most of its revenue from ads it shows visitors.

Whether you sympathize with Yelp or not, this matters to you too (Let’s not be shy, we know quite a few business owner that are actually happy when Yelp is suffering).

You already know ratings and reviews are extremely important in influencing customers, especially when they’re already looking your business up. This means they are ready to make a decision fairly soon – be it about a restaurant, a mechanic or a hotel stay. If what Yelp contends is true, the Google ratings and reviews are the first your customers see.

You might be surprised to learn those reviews come from Google+. That’s right, the Google product you’ve been ignoring. In all likelihood your business actually has a page on it. That page includes all the content Google has on you: photos, hours of operation, contact info etc. In addition it’s where Google collects reviews. Notice in the content card above, there’s a button that says “write a review”. If you head over to Google+ and search for your business, you should see something like this (notice the “write a review” button on the right):

 

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So if you think Yelp is important for your business, clearly reviews that show up above Yelp and are readable directly from the search results page are even more important.

What to do about this?

  • Claim your Google+ listing. Make sure all the info on it is accurate.
  • Everything you post on other social media, you should post on Google+ as well.
  • Encourage your customers who are unsatisfied to send you a private message using OwnerListens.
  • Encourage your customers who are satisfied to leave a review on Google+.

Bottom line: start paying attention to Google+ reviews, the sooner the better!

 

Photo Credit: west.m via Compfight cc

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