Google recently switched over 80 million business listings from Google Places to Google+ Local. It’s an integration of Google maps, Google Places, Google+ and Zagat reviews.
The change is an effort to make Google maps a more social experience. Let’s face it: We often turn to people and resources to help us make decisions—especially when it comes to the best places to go.
Now, reviews can only be left by people who have Google+ accounts. This provides more transparency, while also preventing the potential abuse the previous review system was prone to.
Google+ Local is slightly different than Google Maps, because the listings feature Zagat scores and recommendations from people you trust in your Google+ network. It’s integrated into Search, Maps and mobile and available as a new tab in Google+.
Each place you see in Google+ Local will now be scored using Zagat’s 30-point scale, which tells you all about the various aspects of a place so you can make the best decisions. For example, if a place has great food but horrible service, you might see a 28 in Food and a 3 in Service, and you’d know to place your order for pick-up.
Also with Google+ Local, the opinions of people in your Google+ circles are front and center. So if you’re searching for “pizza” on Google+ Local, your results might show a friend’s wonderful review of a pizza place down the street.
What does this mean for the business owner?
Google+ Local is a great opportunity for business owners to use social networking as means for improving exposure on the Google search engine, but it also means they need to upgrade to Google+.
While Google Places information has transferred to Google+ Local Pages, there is still another step to finalize the transition.
As a Google+ member, you can claim and optimize your business page. But if you’ve already claimed and optimized your Google Places page, which has now transitioned to Google+ Local, you still have to claim your Google + Local Business Page and let Google know you would like to integrate the two pages.
After you integrate the pages, you can add customers to your circles. This will create better search engine optimization for your site and potentially boost word of mouth advertising for your business.
On the downside, it’s now more important than ever to deal with bad reviews. Each consumer is connected to a circle of people far larger than their immediate circle of friends. One bad review will likely be seen by many more people than before.
Stay ahead of the game and on top of your listing. If you need help with your Google+ Local listing, give The Primm Company a call at 757-623-6234.
Sources: ENGadget, BDaily, GoogleBlog