Google Places Changes: How Businesses Should Use the New Google+ Local

By | In General, Internet Marketing, SEO | 6 Comments

Recently, Google made some changes with a huge impact on location-specific businesses: Google Places has finally merged with Google+ to create the new Google+ Local.

With all Google Places pages worldwide automatically converted into the new format, this is a dramatic change for the 80 million+ businesses who used Google Places globally. However, the good news is that the changes do have plenty to offer businesses that take advantage of the new format.

Here’s a brief overview of the changes and new features:

  • All Google Places pages have been converted to the new Google+ Local pages
  • A “Local” tab within Google+ gives users recommended places in their location
  • The Google Places star rating system has changed to Zagat’s 30-point rating system
  • The integration of Google+ Local pages across different Google properties (search, Maps, mobile)
  • A circles filter to find reviews/recommendations from friends/family/colleagues

(Source: Search Engine Land)

The new Google+ Local pages use much of the same content as the previous Places format with added social functionality, including +1 buttons and the ability to share pages on Google+.

The search engine optimisation potential of the new format is huge, with Google+ Local pages being indexed (unlike Google Places). There’s a far greater focus on reviews and photos, so businesses have more opportunity to stand out in search results if they use the new format correctly. Another great feature is that all new reviews will be linked to Google+ profiles, reducing the risk of fake anonymous ratings.

One of the biggest changes is the move to the Zagat rating system from the old starred review system. Zagat uses a 30-point rating system, which contains separate scores to review different factors of a business. The factors offered for review will depend on the business type – for example, accommodation providers are reviewed on Quality, Facilities, and Service.

In an interview with Search Engine Land, Google argued that Zagat scores express much more differentiation and prevent all ratings from converging at 3.5 stars. It’s important to note that Zagat.com reviews will remain separate to those on Google+ Local for the time being, as Zagat.com continues to focus only on restaurant reviews for specific countries.

If you want to take a look at how these changes translate to real search results, below is an example SERP for “burgers near Seattle.” The top screenshot reflects the “old” Places look and feel. The second is the new search results, with the new Zagat scoring system.

Google Places Screen ShotGoogle Places Screen Shot

(Source: Search Engine Land)

To see what the changes mean for your own business page, below is a Places/+ Local “before” and “after” comparison for a restaurant in the Washington DC area, “Mio.”

Google Places Changes Screen Shot

(Source: Search Engine Land)

While there are a lot of changes, nothing on the ‘back end’ will change immediately for business owners in how you’ll manage your local listing. However, businesses who do use their new listings to the full potential will be rewarded with greater search visibility, so the incentives to get involved are huge.

Google+ will continue to make a greater impact on search results, with more changes scheduled for the near future. According to Google’s official blog, businesses can expect social functionality from Google+ to extend into Local pages in the weeks and months ahead.

Have you played around with the new Google+ Local yet? Let us know in the comments…

6 Comments »

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

  1. It’s a little confusing for people right now with there still being a separate business page and a Google+ Local page for your business. Apparently they’re supposed to merge those soon, which will make administration a little easier…. Hopefully.

    Comment by Jared Detroit — June 28, 2012 #

  2. What’s best about the new Google+ Local for me is the new Zagat rating system. It makes fraud feedbacks a lot more hard to place.

    Comment by Dirk Schmid — September 14, 2012 #

  3. Hi there:

    I am assuming that, like Places, business pages on Google+ will end up having rank affected by number of interactions and/or user reviews. Although these local listings offer great possibilities for local SEO enhancement, it’s always a stumbling block to get “testimonials” from clients who don’t have a Google profile or Gmail account. Having to school clients on how to setup a G+ account or even just get a Gmail address is, actually, a big impediment for us to get testimonials from clients. It’s a shame, really, because this requirement makes it more difficult to gain market share in social review…

    Comment by David Hitt — September 24, 2012 #

  4. This is a very accurate blog post on how the Google places now works with Google+. It will be interesting to see over the next few months how this partnership will develop.

    Comment by Wida Search — October 23, 2012 #

  5. Hi,

    I have just started blogging on java. Please advise me how can I increase my page rank and traffic.

    Thanks in advance.
    Kausik

    Comment by kausik — October 24, 2012 #

  6. [...] Here are the top 5 blogs we have found this week from conversion-rate optimization, AdWords, SEO and social media. [...]

    Pingback by Top Digital Marketing Blogs of the Week: 1st February – 8th February 2013 — February 8, 2013 #

Leave a comment

XHTML: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>