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Google Places Is Over, Company Makes Google+ The Center Of Gravity For Local Search

Discussion in 'White Hat SEO' started by karanraj, Jun 11, 2012.

  1. karanraj

    karanraj Newbie

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    When Google+ and Google+ Pages for business were introduced a little less than a year ago many people in the local search arena began anticipating the day when Google would merge or integrate Google Places and Google+ Pages. Well, today is that day.


    Google Places pages have been entirely replaced by new Google+ Local pages. As of this morning roughly 80 million Google Place pages worldwide have been automatically converted into 80 million Google+ Local pages, according to Google?s Marissa Mayer. It?s a dramatic change (for the better) though it will undoubtedly disorient some users and business owners.


    A Range Of Changes Implemented
    Here?s a brief overview of what?s new and what?s changing:


    The substitution of the new Google+ Local pages (as mentioned) for Google Places pages
    The appearance of a ?Local? tab within Google+
    The integration and free availability of Zagat reviews (its entire archive across categories)
    The integration of Google+ Local pages across Google properties (search, Maps, mobile)
    Integration of a circles filter to find reviews/recommendations from friends/family/colleagues
    Static Places now give way to more dynamic Google+ Local pages. Google?s star ratings are also being replaced by the Zagat 30-point rating scale (for user reviews as well).


    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, sans stars.


    Consistent Experience, Several Doorways
    Users will be able to discover the new Google+ Local pages in several ways: through a search on Google.com or Google Maps, in mobile apps or through a search on Google+. The image below an example of a local search result within Google+.


    As a result, Google+ becomes another local search destination within Google, arguably with richer content and more functionality than Google.com offers at the SERP level.


    Not unlike some similar functionality offered in Foursquare, users will be able to sort and filter search results by several criteria, including ?your circles,? which will reveal places ?touched? by friends. Currently this means reviews and posts, but could extend to check-ins later.


    Google had originally hoped to make Places into interactive content pages that merchants would use regularly to communicate with customers and prospects. However that didn?t happen in part because of the limitations of Places pages themselves. Google+ Local pages are much more versatile and ?social.? Indeed, it gives Google a local vehicle with functionality equivalent to Facebook and Twitter.


    Below is a Places/+ Local ?before? and ?after? comparison for a restaurant in the Washington DC area, ?Mio.?




    Google+ Local pages are much more visually interesting. They also enable the presentation of a wider variety of information types than Google Places allowed. They will permit local merchants to develop followers and message them, and to have the kinds of social interactions now available on Facebook and Twitter.


    Google says there will be many more merchant features to come, in a post on the Google and Your Business Blog (formerly the Google Small Business Blog):


    We know many of you have already created a Google+ Page for your business, and have been hosting hangouts and sharing photos, videos and posts. We?re excited that we?ll soon extend these social experiences to more Google+ Local pages in the weeks and months ahead.
    Below is another example Google+ Local profile page. The design and functionality essentially match but seek to improve upon Facebook Pages.