It appears that the much-anticipated day for the Google+ Pages and Google Places to merge has arrived. The Google Places has been totally replaced by the new Google+ Local pages, and roughly 80 million of Google Places pages have been automatically converted to the new feature.
Introducing the New Google+ Local
Google+ Local has converted a static Places page into something dynamic, while the search engine giant’s star rating has been replaced by the Zagat 30-point rating scale. According to Google’s Vice President for Local, Maps and Location Services Marissa Mayer, the new rating scale is used because it has separate scores for food, service and atmosphere.
There are several ways on how users can discover the Google+ Local:
- Google’s search engine result page
- Google Maps
- Mobile apps
- Search on Google+
How Google+ Local Works
From their Google+ account, users can click on the new “Local” tab, which will redirect them to a personalized homepage. This discovery page offers a mix of popular, social and recommended content, and it has various elements that go into the page.
They can either use the discovery page to browse for more content, or head on to Google or Google Maps to search like how they normally do it. Regardless, the inclusion of Zagat rating system and other social features make Google+ an arguably better local search destination.
The new Google+ Local adds richer content and functionality to local search results than what the SERP can offer. The new feature is much more versatile and “social”, giving Google a local vehicle functionality that is similar with Facebook and Twitter. Simply put, the former Google Places is now an interactive page that merchants could use to communicate with their customers.
What Google+ Local Means to Business Owners
What makes Google+ Local visually interesting is the fact that it enables presentation of a wide array of information. It allows users to build a follower base and have the social interactions that are already available on other networking sites.
Moreover, local business owners should wait for new and updated features that will be coming in the future. As posted on Google’s official blog for small businesses:
“We know many of you have already created a Google+ Page for your business, and have been hosting hangouts and sharing photos, videos and posts. We’re excited that we’ll soon extend these social experiences to more Google+ Local pages in the weeks and months ahead.”