If you run a local business and you had a Google Places page then you were already ahead of much of your competition.
Having a Google Places page used to be a smart move (if done right) not least because when the eight out of 10 people (Comscore) who want something locally do their research online – they were more likely to end up at your place.
If you have a business page on Google+ then you’re making your business findable by the 90 million+ users on the newest social network run by the world’s most powerful search company, i.e. Google+
What’s new & why does it matter?
Yesterday, Google replaced Google Places with Google+ Local.
Local businesses now have the opportunity to be even more visible to even more people. And in a way that’s more personalised.
So for example, people will be able to see what others in their Google+ network think about your business. And as we all know, so-called social proof matters.
How it works
From within Google+ you can now see a ‘Local’ tab on the left sidebar. From there, you’ll be able to search for local business pages.
Each business features the old Places info (like images, address, opening hours, reviews) plus an overall rating which is made up individual review ratings.
Restaurants now use the Zagat scoring system which includes Appeal, Facilities & Service.
Doing a normal organic Google Search or within Google Maps will also pull up Google+ Local pages.
What to do now…
If you already have a Google Places page then Google will have turned it into a Google+ Local page for you. You can continue to manage your information via Google Places for Business, which you can get to from within Google+ Local.
If you already have a Google+ business page then no problem. Just continue to use it as before. But be aware that Google intend to merge Google+ business page and Google+ Local pages at some point.
If you run a local business and you don’t have a Google+ business page then now would be a good time to set one up. You’ll be able to use the Google+ social goodness like status updates, Circles & hangouts, as well as being ready for the merge with your Google+ Local page. Watch this space for updates on that…
What’s your take on where this is all headed?