In a recent Google update, Google Places pages have been entirely replaced by new Google+ Local pages. 80 million Google Place pages worldwide have been automatically converted into 80 million Google+ Local pages.
What does this mean for searchers?
From a searchers perspective when searching for a business across Google properties (Maps, Mobile, Search) they will now see the Google+ local page whereas previously they would have been directed to a Google Places page.
Below is a before and after view of a search for a restaurant in Washington, DC.
Before: Google Places View
After: New Google+ Local View
What does this mean for business owners?
At the moment business owners will still manage their local listing through the existing Google Places platform – nothing with change from the backend.
The conversion to Google+ local pages will happen for all places pages regardless of whether they have been claimed by business owners or not. The new Google+ Local pages will be indexed by Google (unlike Google Places pages), so this is a great opportunity to gain more visibility. If you have not yet claimed your business listing, it is essential that you do this asap so you can make sure that your correct business information and branding is on the listing.
The appearance of a ‘local’ tab within Google+ accounts, gives Google+ users the functionality to perform local searches within their account.
Users searching for your business within Google+, will see your local listing regardless of whether you have Google+ account. However, by not having a Google+ account you could be missing out on a great opportunity to develop followers, message them and interact with them.
When users go to the Local tab in Google+ they are shown a personalised local home page, which shows a mixture of recommended places, places from your circles, top reviewers and a selection of type of places e.g. pubs, restaurants. If your Google+ page is in a user’s circle, has been +1’d or reviewed by someone in their circles then the chances of appearing in the personalised search results increase.
New Features in Google+ Local
The Google+ Local pages are more visually appealing that the old Google Places pages. The old static places pages have given way to the new dynamic Google+ Local pages. They allow businesses to socially interact with their users. Some of the new functionality of the pages are:
- The integration and free availability of Zagat reviews (its entire archive across categories). Google’s star ratings are being replaced by the Zagat 30-point rating scale (for user reviews as well).
- The Google/Zagat merger from almost a year ago is finally surfacing. The traditional 5 star ratings as they have been upgraded to the Zagat 30 point system as part of the local reviews. One of the most promising features could be the search functionality within the Local tab. The layout is a near exact replica of Yelp as users can enter in exactly what they are looking for as well as the city in which they are looking.
- The integration of Google+ Local pages across Google properties (search, Maps, mobile)
- Integration of a circles filter to find reviews/recommendations from friends/family/colleagues
Is Google+ Local good for SEO?
The new Google+ local pages open the doors for businesses to actively engage with their potential customers. This is an exciting time for local businesses, giving them the platform to excel in local search.