Goodbye Google Places
The Google+ Local Rollout and how its going to effect small businesses
Google has been causing quite the stir recently with the Penguin update, the latest version of which was just released five days ago. They’re at it again, but this time, they’re taking Google Places down with it.
On Wednesday, May 30, 2012, Google announced that they were rolling out Google+ Local listings.
Google+ Local combines Google Places pages and Google+ Business Listings for one comprehensive and concise listing that will be shown on both Google+ and Google Maps, which includes Google Maps listings in the usual organic search engine results.
Instead of organic and Google+ results leading to two different business pages, they will now reach the same Google+ Local listing.
Zagat ratings have also been made free to the public with this update and will be included in the new Google+ Local listings. There is speculation that this is a move by Google to try to create a viable Yelp alternative.
What You Need to Do
Google’s made this incredibly easy. If you are a web-savvy business owner who already had a Google+ Business page, it should automatically merge with your Place page in the coming weeks.
If you don’t yet have a Google+ Business page, Google recommends that you create one now. As they roll out the update, they will send out information on how to link it with your Places listing.
Better for Users
The user experience on Google+ Local should be a vast improvement over the Places experience. With all of the information in one place, it will be easier to find the correct information for users. A consistent user experience, with multiple doorways to the same listings, will definitely provide for less confusion as well.
Ratings and reviews will be ranked as they were previously, but logged in users will see their friends’ reviews sorted at the top of the pile, allowing them to see more relevant results first. The addition of Zagat ratings offers users a better feel for what a place is actually like, with unique ratings for food quality and atmosphere, instead of a combined star rating.
Thoughts for Business Owners
While this can be yet another confusing change for business owners, Google has taken steps to make it as seamless of a transition as possible.
Business owners will still control their listings through Google Places for Business, and they will no longer have two listings (Google+ and Places) to keep track of. With the coming updates, business owners should not have to worry about how to make sure their business has the most up-to-date listing possible.
Google+ Local pages also allow for a much more social experience for users and business owners. It is now easier to provide social aspects to potential clients through the local listings than ever before, letting business owners connect directly with their clients to address concerns and receive criticism.
Examples of What’s to Come
Google worked with a handful of businesses to provide them with totally upgraded listings. Check out a few of them here:
- Extreme Martial Arts MMA
- The Meatball Shop
- Delfina Restaurant
- Museum of Making Music
- Nick Strocchia Photography
We have yet to see what this will do to the ranking factors for local listings, but we will likely see a change that will favor businesses that are more social with their local listings.
If you are interested in learning more about how your business might be affected by this most recent update, contact us today.