Google Places Becomes Google+ Local
Just recently Google made yet another play to try and integrate the Google+ social platform with your everyday tasks. By integrating Google+ with its Places pages, Google is bringing a social aspect to a service that many people rely on regularly to get from point A to point B.
With this integration comes the first wave of new features that were introduced with the Google+ Local pages:
- Zagat Review Scores: Probably one of the more noticeable changes. Google has done away with the 5-star rating system for Places and now offers Zagat reviews that are more detailed, offering a 30-point scale rather than the 5-star ratings.
- Socially Interactive: The next step towards integrating Google+ and Places comes in the form of being able to socially interact with Places. If you’re logged into your Google+ profile you’ll now be able to see reviews for businesses specifically from you friends, recommendations from your Google+ circles as well as discover the recent places your friends have visited.
- Visual overhaul: The original Google Places pages were not too flashy. Many Places pages offered one photo to be shown next to the map while any other photos were forced to live below the fold and out of sight. The recent update puts those pictures right at the top, allowing users to click and enlarge any images and see what that business looks like.
- Mobile App Update: The revamped Google+ Local app also comes with all the features that you’ll find on your desktop, but now Google+ Local provides a variety of mobile specific features including being able to “save” or favorite listings to make them easy to find again, find local attractions and even search by voice.
With all these changes you’re probably wondering what kind of actions you may need to take to leverage these new features. The answer is: None. As far as managing your Google Places account goes, everything should stay the same. According to Google, “If you’re a business owner, you can continue to manage your local listing information via Google Places for Business.” Google should have implemented all of the changes that come with the new integration automatically.
Two issues I’ve run up against myself while managing Google+ Local are: Can I connect my Google+ profile with my Google+ Places listing? Can I create a vanity URL for my Google+ profile or Google+ Places listing? According to both Google and Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land the answer is no:
“Currently, Place pages and Google+ Pages must be managed separately. A Place page provides information about a business and makes it easy for customers to find local businesses on Google Maps and local search; while a Google+ page provides business owners with additional ways to engage, build relationships and interact directly with customers.”
“Unlike Facebook, there aren’t ‘vanity’ URLs yet available that use a business name rather than a long string of numbers.”
While there’s a lot of hype around this particular subject I believe there is still much to come regarding Google+ Local. This appears to be the first step of many to come regarding this integration. Even Google has stated that, “[s]oon we’ll make it even easier for business owners to manage their listings on Google and to take full advantage of the social features provided by local Google+ pages.”
From my perspective it appears that Google is opening the doors for social management even further. If you thought managing Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest was hard enough, get ready for yet another helping of management in the form of customer service via Google+ Local. There’s also the speculation that Apple’s new Maps software could be the go-to source of data for Siri and any voice searches done on an iPhone, creating yet another source of data Google+ Local marketers must monitor.
The field of online marketing is constantly in flux, which is what makes it so exciting. Looking to learn more about some of the latest developments in search marketing? Be sure to check out our blog or peruse our website for some of the services we offer.