Goodbye Google Places, Hello Google+ Local
Google launched a new product last week — “Google+ Local” — that integrates Google Places with the Google+ social media site.
With the change, Google has abandoned Google Places, forcing all of its business listings into Google+.
Here’s what it means:
1. Google has integrated Zagat ratings into business listings. If your restaurant or hotel already has a Zagat rating, it will be displayed with your listing. In addition, any Google reviews of your businesses will be compiled in the Zagat 0-to-30 rating system.
2. With one listing, your business will be searchable on Google search, maps, mobile and Google+.
3. If Google+ users review or rate a business, those reviews will be shown to other Google+ users who have the reviewers in their circles.
4. The new Google+ Local listing will look like a Google+ Pages listing, and eventually will be completely integrated with Google+. For the time being, businesses can continue to manage their Google business listings with their Google Places for Business log-in.
And here’s what we recommend:
1. If you run a local business and you haven’t claimed your business listing on Google, do it now. You can start by clicking the link above for Google Places for Business.
2. If you’ve already got a Google Places listing, take some time to clean it up. Make the information is accurate and complete and add some photos. Google will also ask you whether you want to move old content to the new Google+ Local listing.
3. Once you’ve claimed your listing, create a Google+ account and then create a Google+ Page for your business. You need to create the personal account first.
4. Stand by for further information from Google about how to integrate the Google+ Local listing with your Google+ Page.
All of these steps are going to help your business be noticed in Google searches, and that’s the bottom line (unless you don’t care whether customers can find you on the world’s most popular search engine).