While citations and common sense optimization still plays a role, G+ Local is in fact becoming a popularity contest for local businesses. Or maybe its better to call it an experiment in social engineering. A business will benefit greatly by engineering their social standing on Google Plus. Along with online reputation management services, marketing consultants will now offer social networking consultation and management services.
This will also spill over into the general public mindset as well. The percentage of those who look up reviews for a company before doing business with them has utterly skyrocketed in the last few years. With the convergence of Google Places with Plus this will now escalate to a new level. No longer can a company rest assured that they have no negative reviews. That won’t cut it. It now becomes imperative to have an ever increasing number of positive reviews and social dialog happening.
Here’s a case in point:
From the image above you see that most of these contractors barely have any reviews at all. Now what would happen if one of those companies hires a social marketing consultant and they help them get maybe 3 positive reviews on Zagat (the new review system on G+ Local) per month? That is all it would take to propel that business ahead of the pack in short order simply because so many people are looking at reviews before they purchase.
Not only that Google will reward that business with a better rank so their overall visibility will increase and they will get more leads, phone calls and ultimately more sales. Yes, reviews do play a major role in Google’s algorithm. Now more than ever. I’d learned that early this year when I discovered that many of my clients’ rank would increase almost overnight by doing serious Google Plus citation work. And this was months before Google Places officially merged.
There are indeed major opportunities here.