While most of the citation stuff and basic optimization is still valid, because at this time the back office is still Google Places, Google has altered their algorithm so that those companies with more high quality reviews (from registered G+ users) and Google Plus Local discussions will be rewarded with better rank. Of course Zagat now plays a role.
And Like I posted earlier, there is talk of G+ “super users” reviews having more weight and I am now seeing strong evidence to support this from a few of my clients. Super users are users that review frequently and get their reviews voted as helpful, or +1, frequently by other users. But its all tied into their G+ social network.
There are many businesses that may not have negative reviews, but they are dead in the water because of their inactivity. This is the overwhelming majority of businesses outside of restaurants, so if, for example, a roofing company were to start a G+ review campaign of some sort that could really bump them up in ranking and attract more business at the same time.
In fact, this has been my modus operandi for some time now. I use Places Scout to locate new leads and what I see 99% of the time, outside of the restaurant industry, is that most companies listed on Google Plus Local do not have any reviews, or very few. These are the companies I will contact with my G+ Local optimization offers. And with great success I might add.
These are the companies that have the most potential because since they don’t have any negative reviews working against them, and all I have to do is instigate a simple Google Plus review campaign for them and their rank will shoot through the roof in many cases. I have done this for two roofing companies so far, and one CEO has already confided in me that they saw the biggest increase in new business… ever. I will go into what I have been doing in the near future but it is not difficult.
This is not to say that a strong citation network and common sense optimization practices are no longer valid. They most definitely are. But it’s clearly a social network business now, and the winners are the talk of the town.