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Google+: no local-search benefits…yet

2011 July 10
by Rich Hargrave

If you build it, they will come“.

Not always the case with Google product launches, but this may be an exception.

Google Plus (Google+, or “G Plus”, as many prefer) has been out in beta for a week or so. Since getting my account I’ve been setting up my profile, getting familiar with the settings, and trying to figure out how to tie in feeds for Twitter and LinkedIn. Facebook currently blocks access.

More importantly, I’ve been thinking how this may impact local search and SMB marketing strategies. Here are some initial thoughts, and a collection of some of the best articles and links from across the web –

Other than the name “Google Plus”, my initial impressions are positive. Very clean and quick. Privacy policies are clear and concise. The “circles” concept is much easier than Facebook Groups, and some of the other options are truly unique (“hangouts” video chat). For me, Facebook is 100% social (friends and family), Twitter and LinkedIn are virtually all business. Two separate worlds. With Circles, I can manage my communication across all of these channels individually and seamlessly.

Although I wouldn’t come close to calling this a “facebook killer” (due to the sheer size and traction of fb) but it’s got the makings of a solid alternative. This is especially true when you start thinking about how it will integrate and layer upon other Google services – it’s not going to be a “stand alone” social platform, but rather an “enhancement” to search, Picasa and YouTube; and hopefully Maps, reviews, offers, email and other applications. Already, many popular blogs and websites are claiming large increases in referral traffic from Google Plus.

In the world of local search, I can see Google Plus having some real potential impact as a marketing tool – but it’s got some serious ground to gain. Business Profile pages and Place Pages (or SEO benefits) are not yet a reality, but could be a significant benefit (although how would the Profile pages work with Place Pages?). Since Google has now removed Twitter and real-time search from the SERPs, I’m sure it’s just a matter of time.

Ultimately, I believe a directional, targeted local offers model will be the real game-changer; both for the industry as well as business owners.  Combine this with mobile and/or social media (like Facebook is) and you have that very powerful combination of “work of mouth” and “getting a deal“. This could finally be Google’s winning recipe within local.

The Google Plus project

With millions of users & growing, Google+ set to power all Google products

Article: How Google+ ends social networking fatigue

Article: Google under the blog-o-scope

Andrew Shotland: Google Plus tips & shortcuts

Google Plus Android App

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