This week, Google announced that it was incorporating local search into Google+. If it hasn’t already, you will soon notice your Google Places listing turn into a Google+ page as Google continues to roll this change out to both verified and unverified listings.
Local pages will be accessible in Google Maps as before, as well as the new Local tab in Google+ and Google Search as they will be unique pages. These pages will therefore be able to be optimised and indexed in their own right, as well as meaning that you will be able to direct people to these Local pages through PPC adverts.
The Local tab on Google+ suggests businesses in your local area to explore. This is based on what is popular and recommendations, so having reviews on your listing could prove to be more important than ever, especially if they are made by people in your circles.
The review system is also being changed from the familiar five star rating to a system developed by Zagat, which was acquired by Google in September 2011 and gives your business a score out of 30. This ranking is to take in to account different aspects of the service that your business offers. For example, it was originally designed to rate restaurants, allowing for a different score for the food, the service, the price, etc, giving a combined score out of 30. This should mean that scores are more spread out and give a better reflection of the service offered.
One impact of this change is that if you are reviewing a business, you can now do this as a business rather than an individual. It will also allow you to filter reviews by those that you have in your circles, making it easier to find reviews from people that you know.
To see how these listings are going to look, check out Pomegranate Cafe (shown below) which was part of the Google+ Local Pilot scheme.
You can’t link this page with your Google+ page just yet, but we would expect this update to be imminent. For now, you can still edit your listing as before in Google Places For Business. However, it looks as though Google are set to add more features to the Local pages over the coming months, meaning that it will become a much more social platform where businesses will be able to interact with their customers.
In the meantime, we recommend creating your own Google+ business page so that you are ready when this update is made. As updates like this continued to be rolled out, it is looking like Google+ is going to be a very powerful tool for businesses.