Google announced the launch of Google+local this week — a move which effectively converted more than 80 million Google Places pages into Google+local pages. So, if you didn’t get around to creating a Google+ page yet, you can thank Google for getting you started.
Local information integrated across Google
Of course, there’s a reason for all this, not the least of which is to gain more traction for Google+. Users can now click on the new “Local” tab on the bottom left-hand side of Google+ to search for specific places or browse for locations. If you click on a restaurant, or a place, you’ll be taken to a local Google+ page that includes photos, Zagat scores and summaries, reviews from people you know and trust, and other useful information like address and opening hours.
As part of the move, Google replaced its five-star review system with the Zagat 30-point rating scale. Google has also added depth to the reviews by adding ratings on service, atmosphere and the like. Individual scores will be rated on a zero to 3 point scale, averaged and then multiplied by 10 to create an average score where 26-30 is near perfection and 0-9 is poor to fair.
|26-30||Extraordinary to perfection|
|21-25||Very good to excellent|
|16-20||Good to very good|
|10-15||Fair to good|
|0-9||Poor to fair|
What’s a business to do?
For now, according to the Google and Your Business Blog, businesses should continue to update their company info via their Google Places page, but eventually this will be phased out. If you already had a Google+ business page, you might check to be sure you don’t have two.
“If you are a business owner, you should continue to manage your information in Google Places for Business,”said Jen Fitzpatrick, VP Engineering, in the Google and Your Business Blog. “You’ll still be able to verify your basic listing data, make updates, and respond to reviews. For those who use AdWords Express, your ads will operate as normal as they’ll automatically redirect people to the destination you selected, or your current listing,”
Implications for local search
There is good news for savvy marketers who have already mastered Google+ because now these pages will be indexed and available across across all Google properties including search, maps and mobile. If you haven’t yet started on Google+, now is a great time to start. But like it or not, your low maintenance Google Places page is now a full blown social media site that needs your attention. Its time to expand your social circles, encourage reviews and engage your followers with great content. Google+ is flexing its local muscle.