May 31, 2012
Yesterday, Google launched Google+ Local—a brand new feature on the Google+ social platform which incorporates local data into the user experience. Billed as “a simple way to discover and share location information and recommendations from people you trust”, the new service incorporates Zagat scores, reviews from Google Places page, Google Maps, and even Google Search into one comprehensive platform aimed to help consumers find and share information in a social media platform. The new feature is also optimized to work on Android mobile devices with support for Apple’s iOS platform described as “coming soon.” For those not using Google+, elements of Google+ Local will also be seen in search results on Google Search and Google Maps.
So, what does all of this mean for Google+ users?
- Google+ users will now see a “local” tab on the left side of the Google+ interface.
- Pages found on the Google+ Local tab will now incorporate Zagat’s “30 point scale” ratings as well as Google Places and Google Maps data. (Google and Zagat merged last Fall.)
- Users may search for specific local businesses or browse by location using Google Search.
- Google+ users may share their reviews of businesses with individuals located in their Google+ Circles.
- Information from Google+ Local will also appear on Google Search and Google Maps queries.
More importantly, what does all of this mean for businesses?
- Existing Google+ pages for local businesses still exist.
- Management of existing Google Places pages is unchanged.
- Data from Google Places pages has been used to populate information on the Google+Local pages. (This includes core details such as address, phone number, description, business photos, and Google Analytics tagged website URL’s. (Businesses should still verify that their information was ported over correctly.)
- Google+ Local pages are read only; these pages CANNOT publish additional content or engage with Google+ users. This feature is managed by existing Google Places pages.
- User reviews published on Google Places pages viewable on the Google+ Local pages.
The key takeaway of this is that Google is working to create an all encompassing user experience that incorporates elements from all of their various products. Businesses are encouraged to update their Google Places profiles with the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding their location and services as well as optimize their profiles to ensure high visibility in relevant search results. It’s also another indicator of Google’s goal of usurping Facebook as the “top dog” of the Social Media world.
For more information on how Google+ Local will affect existing Google Places for Business pages, contact Steve Jurken, Director of Interactive Products at Marquette Group.