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Google Places becomes Google+ Local.
11 Jun 2012
If you have a Google+ account you will probably have already noticed a Google+ Local tab on the left-hand side, this is Google’s new local service, rolled out on the 30<sup>th</sup> May.
If you have a Google+ account you will probably have already noticed a Google+ Local tab on the left-hand side, this is Google’s new local service, rolled out on the 30th May.
Google+ Local pulls Google Places information and is integrated across Google i.e. search, maps and mobile. Places pages in search results have been replaced with a Google+ Local page although Google Places pages are still, for the time being, managed from your Google Places account.
Alongside Google Places details, Google+ Local pages include reviews and scores from Zagat (the online review company acquired by Google in September last year) and recommendations from people in your circles. Google’s Avni Shah, Director of Product Management, concisely described Google+ Local as:
a simple way to discover and share local information featuring Zagat scores and recommendations from people you trust in Google+
Adding social integration to Google’s local results means it won’t be enough for businesses to set up a static Google Places page, they will need to treat Google+ Local as a social network; communicating with customer’s online, sharing photos, videos, posts and hosting hangouts. These features aren’t available on the new Google+ Page yet but Google’s announcement states “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”. Google has already worked with a handful of businesses with a Google+ page to show how Google Places information, Zagat reviews and scores and recommendations from people following on Google+ will be amalgamated onto Google+ businesses pages over the coming months. A couple of these businesses pages can be viewed here and here. The introduction of Google+ Local is clearly a further attempt to persuade users and businesses to use Google+. Setting up a Google+ business page is likely to become essential to rank well for local results; if you want your business to rank well for local results you’ll need to embrace Google+ if it’s not already part of your social offering. This could be frustrating for businesses without the resource to manage social campaigns, but for those that can it provides a new opportunity to communicate and build relationships with new and existing customers - with the additional benefit of increasing their businesses visibility across Google.