Google Places is dead! Long live Google+ Local?

google plus local logoOK this is big: we’ve been bitching about Google Places for long enough so we have to be happy with a change I suppose!

Local places in Google+

It’s been announced that Google Places are being completely replaced by Google+ Local pages, effectively combining the local business aspects of Places with the peer-review and social trust supposedly associated with Google+ profiles and pages.

Search Engine Land have done a nice extensive summary that’s unfortunately very US-focused, as there’s no sign of Google+ Local pages in the UK as of yet. However Google have suggested that the rollout will be pretty rapid so expect to see them soon.

UPDATE: Google+ Local pages are now live in the UK – my that was quick! However the Attacat local page doesn’t appear to have synced with our Google+ business page, so looks like there’ll be a huge amount of headaches awaiting us trying to get that fixed if the performance of Google Places is anything to go by. I’ve also noticed a number of duplicate map listings reappearing for a number of businesses, so old Google Places problems resurfacing?

attacat-google-plus-local

google plus local page

The idea is that the Google+ Local pages are combined with existing Google+ business pages, so you’re drawn through into Google+ and encouraged to sign up and interact. Another part of Google’s plan to (somewhat unfairly?) push their social offering through their search dominance.

There’ll be a new ‘local’ section in the Google+ sidebar navigation, which provides a different way to search for local businesses and attractions directly through the social network.

reviews and ratings

google plus local scoring guide

What happens to the reviews from a Google Places page? These will be carried across, but Google+ Local will mean changes. The rating system will change to an averaged 1–30 scale from the current 1–5 star average, with individual people’s ratings given on a 1–3 scale. So basically the average will just display an average of 2.7 from however-many user reviews into ’27’. Simples.

US results also strongly suggest that restaurants and eateries will have reviews from the Zagat site drawn through, with Google+ Local ratings also being broken down into categories like ‘food’, ‘decor’ and ‘service’ to give a better idea of each place’s relative strengths and weaknesses. At this stage it’s not clear if categories will only be applied to food establishments, or whether there’ll be equivalents for other types of attraction/business.

some examples please

A few (US) examples are below. Oh! Sushi restaurant features reviews with the category breakdowns, North Bowl has reviews even as a place that isn’t solely a food establishment (but there’s no category split), while the Museum of Making Music doesn’t have any reviews but gets its Google+ business page posted content, like videos, placed quite prominently. Again, exactly how this will translate to UK-based non-food establishments isn’t absolutely definite at this point but we’ll keep you posted.

Oh! Sushi

google-plus-local-2

North Bowl

google-plus-local-1

Museum of Making Music

google-plus-local-3

so what do we think?

Initial thoughts are the Google+ Local pages are far better designed and more engaging than the drab and rather horrid Google Places pages. You can get a real feeling for the personality of the brand, and it looks to reduce the obstacle of users having to sign up to a Google / Hotpot (jeez that didn’t last long did it?) account without being sure what they’re doing. What’s clear is that you’ll need to create a Google+ business page sharpish.

I get a feeling this is going to really change the way we look at social and local optimisation.

Local and social really can’t be viewed in isolation any more

In internet marketing local ties in with social, which ties in with SEO, which ties in with content marketing, which ties in with social… You need to really think about your overall internet marketing strategy and stop thinking any part can be ‘quick fixed’ – in the near future great Google rankings are only going to be achieved by those being great at all of them.

 

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

6 thoughts on “Google Places is dead! Long live Google+ Local?”

  1. Tim Barlow says:

    I take it the problem of local businesses that serve clients outside their location will not be solved? (think an Edinburgh based company that serves clients in Edinburgh and the rest of the world)

  2. Attacat Joel says:

    Actually that was attempted to be addressed with the setting change ‘do you serve customers at their location?’. If selected it removes the exact address and pin point, and you instead select an area of coverage.

    There’s no real data yet on how this affects performance, but it was threatened that companies who didn’t make the switch to the correct option would be ‘booted off’ Places. Seems like bluster to me.

  3. Donna Brindley says:

    Is it me or is Google+ not actually working in the UK yet? I’m checking all the businesses I know that previously had Google Place pages to find that when I click on the Google+ Place page link – the pages are all empty and nothing has downloaded. In fact today I can’t even change anything on my own Google+ account. Where’s the best place to find out exactly what business owners – who aren’t all using SEO companies but who manage these sites themselves – need to do to optimise the change and not loose their valuable reviews, images and video content from Places. Thanks – sorry not an expert in this merely trying to keep a group of users informed to changes.

    • Attacat Joel says:

      Thanks for the comment Donna, I can’t say I’ve experienced quite the issues you’ve had – perhaps you have some local or network-specific problems? Google’s advice is that you should continue to manage your Places as usual through http://www.google.com/placesforbusiness, and the transition and linkup with Google+ business pages will occur over the coming weeks (see http://googleandyourbusiness.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/helping-people-discover-and-share-local.html). Nice and vague! So basically we need to sit tight and monitor the changes and be ready to utilise any new opportunities. Don’t worry about reviews etc. – these should be transitioned across to the new format without any issues. Just keep an eye out for duplicate Places listings, as I’ve seen a few popping up since the announcement.

  4. I’ve been putting most of my time and efforts into FB Page marketing but I’m starting to think that this new Google+ local feature can’t be overlooked.

    • Attacat Joel says:

      Thanks for the comment David. Yes it’s important to remember all the elements of online marketing but focus on those that provide you with a return on your time and investment. So in terms of Google+ Local, this can be very important to ensure people can find your business through local-intent searches on Google, but it’s best to understand what value each channel brings – you may find the returns are better from Facebook marketing but it’s very business dependant. Local searches tend to convert well and be very relevant however…

Like the Brain? Sign up for the packed-full-of-tips monthly newsletter