Google Places Retires, Google+ Now in the Spotlight for Local Search
It’s been a long time coming for Google to revamp their local search and replace the dated Google Places listings with something that allows enhanced reviews, supplementary information and a chance to directly connect with the business. Google Places listings have been completely replaced by the latest addition to the Google+ network, Google+ Local pages.
If you are a business owner with a Google Places listing, there is no need to panic. Your Google Places listing is still there and no action needs to be taken on your behalf. You will need a Google account to start using Google+ and to view your new listing if you aren’t already a user (and you should be).
For the consumers, if you like Yelp and Foursquare, you’ll love this. Google has teamed up with Zagat reviews, which provides some of the most trusted and respected ratings across the globe. Zagat reviews are replacing the 5-star Google rating which now allows you to rate your experience based on a 30-point rating scale. For restaurants, it splits the scoring between the food, décor and service and provides an averaged score.
Google+ Local pages will be integrated across all Google properties including search, maps and mobile and you can also filter your local results based on those reviews and recommendations from your Google+ Circles. This makes finding a trusted review much easier from your friends, family and co-workers.
Possibly the best part of this (for the internet marketing buffs, anyway), is that Google+ Local Pages will be indexed by search engines. This is another cornerstone into the Google+ network that shows that business owners that take advantage of the Google+ network now can reap the full SEO benefits of the network and be rewarded for it.