Google Places is now Google+ Local

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With the four day weekend to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee you might be forgiven for not noticing that Google has been changing things again. Less than a week after announcing the retirement of Google Product Search in favour of paid for Google Product Listing Ads they’ve now migrated Google Places over to Google+ Local.

The main difference that you’ll notice is that all Google Places pages (including the one for your business if you had one!) have been rolled over into new Google+ Local pages. In your Google+ account you’ll notice a new “Local” tab and the new pages have been integrated across Google’s properties including Search Results Pages, Maps and Mobile.

Gone are the familiar star ratings from search results and instead there’s now a Zagat review score ranging from 0 to 30 (aggregated averaged customer ratings left on a scale of 0 – 3). Google acquired Zagat last September and now have fully integrated the rating system across all Google+ Local pages. Alongside reviews submitted by customers they also rank different aspects of businesses, for example for restaurants you might expect to see scores for Food, Decor, Service and Cost as well as an overall score.

The biggest change for Google+ Local in comparison with Google Places is social integration with Google Circles. Users can now see ratings from their friends and contacts and business owners can communicate with customers through sharing photos, videos and posts and even holding Google “Hangouts” to chat about their offerings. This is all getting very Facebookesque and is going to be a headache for some businesses who thought they’d created a static business page and will now discover it’s fully socialised.

It’s worth noting that Google+ Local will serve different pages for different users – whilst some of the basic local information may be the same, the businesses highlighted will in part reflect friends recommendations and your other activity on Google.

If you’re a business owner all the new features won’t currently be available for your new Google+ Page and you should continue to manage your page through the Google Places interface. If you have already created a Google+ Page for your business you’ll soon be able to link it to your local listing to fully merge the two.


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