The trend in search is toward social and local content for consumers who are increasingly mobile.
Google just made a bold move to bring it to the forefront by automatically converting existing Google Places pages into new Google+ Local business pages.
In other words, if your business had a Google Places page it has now moved to Google+. Even if you had no plans for creating one, your business still needs to be learning more about Google+.
Search and The Evolution of Google+
Few of the more than 100 million users of Google+ are active on the site, but look for that to change, especially for local businesses that have been dedicating the majority of their effort to their Facbook page.
Early last year it became apparent that Google was placing greater emphasis on social content, and for a couple of reasons. One is that social provides context. Who you associate with affects your decisions and choices, and that is highly relevant for search results.
The second reason is that Google is in the business of indexing content, and social is where the action is, because most of the content being created on the web these days is social in nature.
Google made an effort some time ago to help you aggregate all of your personal social content within your Google Profile. The smart move was to take special care to have a Google Profile that was as accurate as possible. And those of us that did this were rewarded when our Google Profile became the About tab on our personal Google+ profile.
That was a signal of things to come.
Earlier this year Google started automatically setting up a Google+ account for anyone that signed up for a gmail address.
That was another signal.
Now that Google Place pages are part of your Google+ business page, the handwriting is on the wall.
There will undoubtedly be more to come.
What Google+ Means for Your Business
It now appears likely that all things related to search will eventually be integrated into Google+. This will include maps, images, and virtually any other content that is served up by an RSS feed.
Businesses that have been ignoring Google+ are really going to have to scramble to get up to speed. Look for links below to resources to help you get started or learn more if you are already in the game.
What is really going on here? It’s simple – there is race between Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ to be the king of social, local, and mobile.
The mobile space is especially vital for local businesses, but it nevertheless applies to every business, because while yours may not necessarily be local, 100% of your prospects and customers are.
Think about that.
If you are going to meet your customers where they are, you have to start adapting to a web that promises to give greater weight to search results that are both local and social.
Consider that Google controls 2/3 of search results in North America, and even more in other parts of the world. The message is clear – ignore Google+ at your own risk.
Use Social to Help Google Help Your Business
In many respects Google is doing every business a favor by creating one global marketplace – and bringing it to every consumer via their mobile device so that they can make the best decision for their location and social circumstances.
Google understands that when choosing a restaurant your choice will be dependent upon the company you are with and where you are.
Facebook understands this too, but their business model is not designed to make this information readily available to consumers. If it were, Facebook would be searchable.
The new Google+ Local content is searchable both within Google+ and on the open web.
If this is not a game changer I don’t know what is.
Here is a screenshot of search results for restaurants served up by Google+ by my logging in and clicking on the Local tab (noted by the red arrow), with Google naturally using my location to determine the most relevant results.
The bottom line is that only the establishments that have a presence on Google+ (local or non-local) will be represented. Those that are favored by your connections in your Google+ circles are more likely to rise to the top of the search rankings, which is one more reason to engage with Google+.
These developments serve to underscore one undeniable fact: Facebook is for friends and Google+ is for business.
There is no question that the activity on Facebook greatly overshadows that on Google+ … for now.
Yet, what happens in Facebook stays within Facebook – and that does not benefit your business objectives.
If you want to learn more about the recent conversion of Google Places to Google+ Local pages, you can get more here.
Google+ Pages for Business are Now Open is a short article that will help you get started with Google+.
My video interview with New York Times best-selling author Chris Brogan, author of Google+ for Business, will help you use Google+ to get understand the finer points of Google+ for your business.
How about you? What’s your take on the new Google+ ?
Let us know how in a comment below – or simply share this with your communities using the share buttons below so that they can participate in the conversation.
Until next time, Jeff