We touched on Google+ Pages for local businesses in our ‘NEW’ School of SEO Workshop, held yesterday at E-Web’s Sydney head office. The question of whether Google+ would eventually merge with Google Places was raised. Search industry experts have been expecting this move for some time, but exactly when Google releases updates is anyone’s guess.
However, just hours after the workshop concluded, local search expert Mike Blumenthal reported Google+ Local Reviews is now live! Check out this post at Search Engine Land for a comprehensive run-down of this new product integration.
Of particular benefit to many companies who suffer from bogus malicious reviews from their competitors, is that reviews left in this system can’t be anonymous. This should help to reduce review spam, both positive and negative, that attempts to falsify recommendations. All reviews will be public and include Google+ users’ first and last name. Here’s an example snippet of a review I made a while back:
To establish further credibility, Google+ will also be highlighting top contributors who post quality reviews, as opposed to the generic and often keyword spammed reviews of yesteryear.
Google+ is definitely putting up a good fight to establish itself as a top social network. Will this latest change encourage you to change your approach to local search optimisation? If this is a topic of interest, make sure you sign up for our educational workshops where we’re sure to discuss business uses for Google+.