Hello, Google+ Brand Pages!

The wait is finally over! Google+ Brand Pages are upon us. Have you got one for your business yet?

GeoLocal has one, so be sure to add us to your circles! If you’re already following me on G+, you should have seen the message.

But wait! Before you run off like a kid that’s just heard the ice cream truck, here are a few things you should know about the G+ Brand Pages…

Tied to a Gmail Account – Yep, you read that right. As of right now, these brand pages are linked directly to a Gmail account. So, if your business doesn’t have a “yourawesomebizname@gmail.com” address, now would be a great time to get one. The Gmail account that creates the page is the only person that will be able to make changes.

It is unclear as to whether or not G+ users will be able to create multiple pages, like users on Facebook can admin several pages. So, while the email address might not matter, it’s still sound advice to keep things separate, wouldn’t you agree?

Look like G+ Profiles – The brand pages have the same layout as the G+ Profiles, with a few new options, like page sharing and +1.

Ugly URLs – For example, this is what the GeoLocal URL looks like: https://plus.google.com/107931383586099514689/posts. Anyone familiar with SEO knows how much wasted space those numbers take up! There are some URL shortener services, but nothing officially endorsed by Google itself.

Direct Connect - Try going to Google and typing in “+ Cowboys“, and you’ll see that their G+ Brand Page appears before you’ve finished spelling out the word. Google worked specifically with a few companies (Toyota, Pepsi, for example) for its initial page rollout. The best part is that Google can automatically add this brand page to your circles. Not available for all pages yet, but one can reason that it will come soon enough.

All other G+ services - Brand pages can still do Hangouts, upload pictures and video, and share posts. If your company is really techy, think of how a Hangout (live chat) could do wonders for your customer service efforts.

You’ve got the lowdown, now where do you get one? Easy, http://plus.google.com/pages/create. It’s only a few steps: pick your business category, fill in the profile information, upload some images, make a post, and invite people to your circle. If you’ve already got a place page, it’s even easier to connect the two.

What’s that, you ask? Why bother? Fair question. The short answer is that Google+ Brand Pages won’t be a relevant medium for every business. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

But Google is hot right now. And for a search engine to own over 60% of the search market (sharing the other 40% with a boatload of other search engines), that is something worth paying attention to.

Google is making the effort to stay ahead of the curve by trying out new things and stepping into social media. While Google is facing an uphill battle against Facebook, it’s worth keeping an eye on. Or are you still updating your MySpace Page?

Here We Go(ogle) Again!

Google Place PageIt seems the spring cleaning bug has hit Google hard. In the wake of all the buzz around Google +, the company quietly streamlined their Google Place Pages.

Place pages used to pull reviews from other sites like CitySearch and Yelp. Not anymore. Place Pages now only display content from other Google users. They have larger call to action buttons higher on the page. So if you want to review a place or upload photos from a recent visit, it is now easier to do so. Google is also working to unify their platform across different mediums, so your Google experience looks the same on your phone as it does on your computer. Avni Shah, Director of Product Management for Google, blogged that Google is “Bringing you more personalized results when you search for local places — because we understand that information from the people you know is most meaningful.”

While reviews, whether good or bad, help boost your Place page ranking, any small business owner in the service industry will tell you that one bad review can be detrimental. Will a review from a Google user carry more weight as far as SEO is concerned? Not likely. What this change will do, however, is knock your total review counts way down.

There will still be links to your company’s reviews on other sites like Yelp, but it will require that the user actually click through to those pages. What can you do to counteract this drop in rating counts?

Ask your customers for a review! If they’ve had a positive experience, encourage them to leave a review (via their Google account) on your Place page. It may even be worth it to offer an incentive for them to leave a review. Perhaps a discount on their next purchase?

The aim of Google + is to provide a better social experience. Combine that with the easy integration with all the other Google products and services, and you’ve got one gargantuan hub where absolutely any and everything is at a user’s fingertips.

Are you optimizing your Google Place Page to reflect these new changes?

GeoLocal on Google +

Remember last week when I talked about Google Plus? I got invited, joined, then started a GeoLocal Circle. After just a few days, I’ve already used it more than I’ve used Facebook in the last month. Suffice to say, I really like Google Plus, a lot.

The plan is unconfirmed by Google, but the company recently told brands and businesses not to create Google+ profiles just yet, as it works on a better experience for them.

When you combine G+ with Google Places, Boost, City Pages, Gmail, Google Docs, Calendar and everything else, well that sounds like everything in one place. Hmmm.

Here’s a great overview of Google + and what it can mean for local business owners.

If you need a Google + invitation, just shoot me an email with your Gmail address.

See you inside the GeoLocal Circle…;-)

Google +

Google PlusWhat keeps Google on top? Their ability to, and obvious lack of fear for, trying new things. Not every project is a success and not every service lasts. Remember Google Wave or Google Buzz? It seems that Google, once again, flexes its muscle to remind us that they are not just a search engine.

Hot on the heels of two recent rollouts (Google City Pages and Google +1), Google has launched Google+. In a nutshell, Google+ aims to do what we humans naturally do: compartmentalize our social life.

Google+ breaks down like this:

- Circles : A topic/category that you create (i.e.: bowling), then you add people to this group (the people you bowl with).

- Sparks: As with any group, you need something to talk about. Can’t think of anything? Google will use what they call SPARKS to “feed [the circle] highly contagious content from across the Internet.”

- Hangouts: Google’s less invasive answer to instant messaging. Let’s say you have a few minutes to talk bowling with your circle. Log into this video-chat option so others will know you’re available. According to the Google blog, “Hangouts lets you stop by when you’re free, and spend time with your Circles. Face-to-face-to-face.” Sound familiar? Yea, I call it Skype too…

- Mobile: Another service that will allow you to geo-tag your updates.

To be honest, this all sounds like a mash-up of several different social media services (Twitter, HootSuite, LinkedIn), but most notably…Facebook. Talk about a clash of the Titans…we’re looking at a combined user base of over 1 BILLION people worldwide!

While most of us don’t have Google’s funding, we can keep them in mind as a model. Try new things, keep up with the competition, and listen to what your users/consumers/customers are telling you.

If you, as a small business owner, were resistant to social media in the past, this may be the wake-up call you need. With more and more people using the Internet to connect to their world, can you afford to be the holdout?

Here’s a Resource You’ll Like

You’d be surprised what someone will do for $5. It might be something that you actually want done! Check it out:

http://www.fiverr.com

Really cool resource. Let me know if you find something really good.

One more thing: Ever think about taking CPA offers OFFLINE?

http://tinyurl.com/2flkmb2– (GeoLocal Forum post)