Get to Know Google+ Local, Google’s latest iteration of the now defunct Google Places.
BY Kerrie Spencer STAFF CONTRIBUTOR
Time waits for no man, and Google waits for no lawyer.
If you are not up-to-date with Google’s latest innovations in social media, you risk being left behind. Google is going through a lot of updates, and your potential to garner new clients in some part rests on keeping up with those changes. So if you had a Google Places page, you need to know that it has been replaced with Google+ Local. In fact, over 80 million Google Places pages were migrated over to Google+ Local. That may bring to mind an old saying: “The more things change, the more they remain the same.” But do they?
Is the new Google+ Local the same as Google Places? Not really, and if you want to remain relevant in the social media battle to capture the attention of potential clients, you should know a thing or two about Google+ Local. Since Google’s release of Search Plus Your World, it is more important than ever to take advantage of every tool they offer – and that includes Google+ Local.
Consider this latest research done by the Research Intelligence Group, which shows that close to 76 percent of people looking for an attorney use online research at some point. The first thing you need to know about this change is it was done in response to the way people search for things when they go online. The second thing is that five of the six top ranked factors for Google search are heavily linked to social media, a point your law firm cannot afford to ignore. People are searching more and more by entering a specific geographic location, and Google+ Local is at least attempting to make searching more relevant.
While you do not need to memorize this information, it may come in handy when discussing the new search parameters with other lawyers. The Google search process now operates on the Zagat 30- point scoring system, which is relevant because Google picked up Zagat, a restaurant rating system, and set about integrating it into the Google+ Local process. While law firms and restaurants have little in common – other than clients who come and go – the scoring system works for Google.
Planning on submitting an anonymous review? That is no longer allowed. Anyone who wants to do a review needs to have a Google+ account. However, it is vitally important to get your peers and clients to post favorable reviews. The magic number for reviews seems to be 10. You need 10 as a benchmark before Google hands out a number ranking, and that ranking has a direct effect in organic searches. Once those reviews are posted, they are shared with your Google+ associates, friends and family.
Still love your ridiculously expensive Yellow Page ad? The writing has been on the wall for some time now. AT&T sold the Yellow Pages in the face of ever shrinking revenues, over 30 percent in the last two years alone. AT&T realized that people were deserting the ship, jilting them for smartphones, tablets and stand-alone computers.
The final reason you need to stay up-todate with Google’s changes relates to search engine optimization. To put it bluntly, if you are not on Google+ Local, your rankings will likely suffer. Do you want to take the chance of not being relevant and visible after all of the work you have done to promote your law firm? Probably not, so now is the time to get with the Google+ Local program. Your search engine optimization will thank you for it. And in the process, your law firm will become more personally approachable for clients, which is good for business.