While my interest in Google+ has cooled somewhat over the past year, it still remains a tool that cannot be fully ignored for businesses and in particular local businesses.
Google+ as a social layer over all of Google’s products have merged Google Places and Google Local information together, which provides some pretty good results for SEO
What is Google Local?
As many of you may know, Google Search doesn’t just provide website results. Since 2007, Google has provided universal and blended results drawing information from not only its cache of websites, but also from images, videos and also locations.
In 2012, Google merged Google Places and Google+ Business Pages. Google has also given up a large amount of screen real estate (at the expense of advertisements on the right hand side) to display local information which includes map locations, Google+ pages and reviews etc. See screenshot below
In order to be listed, a business must verify their address and complete their Google+ profile data. In the example above, Independent Colleges has close to 500,000 views on their Google+ page but has less than 50 followers. This indicates that while a lot of people may click on these links and options, there is no incentive for them to actually use some of the core Google+ features but that is Google’s problem and not the business who can clearly enjoy higher rankings with minimal effort, especially with the complexity and uncertainty of SEO.
So while Google+ still remains a ghost town in many parts of the world, there is still some related features particularly Local listings which make it a must have add on for your business.