Google has further stamped its authority and determination to make Google+ a social force to be reckoned with by wiping out Google Places.
They have overnight removed Google Places pages and moved towards a transition with Google+ Local pages. This does make more sense with the way that the Google platform is moving forward and will also prompt lots of business owners to update their new Google+ Local pages.
Google+ Local pages can be found via a new ‘Local’ tab in the sidebar of Google+, and Local pages also feature Zagat scores and recommendations from people you’re connected to on Google+. I suspect this will also make it easier for Google to monitor the genuine popularity of pages and prompt some localised search terms to have more of a bias towards Google+ entries. Local scores are now calculated on a 30-point scale based on user reviews.
An estimated 80 million Google Place pages worldwide have been automatically converted into 80 million Google+ Local pages, according to Google’s Marissa Mayer
If you previously wrote reviews or uploaded photos in Google Places, all of your old Google Places reviews and photos are currently public but attributed to “A Google user.” You will need to migrate all of this data over.
You will also find a new local tab on the left of the Google+ page which offers a mix of personalised, social and recommended results which is laid out better than a Facebook search.
Users will see the new Google+ pages from many search entries. These include general Google search, Google Maps, Mobile Apps and within Google+.
These new Google+ Local pages make Google more versatile and social from a local perspective and although Facebook pages are a great tool, the prospect of these Google+ Local results having an SEO and Social factor in the search engines means they are likely to be well used.
Google says there will be many more merchant features to come, in a post on the Google and Your Business Blog (formerly the Google Small Business Blog). Don’t be surprised if they offer new functionality to continue to rival Facebook.
Business owners will also have the benefit of Google+ Local pages being indexed unlike the old Places pages. This will offer further SEO potential for those that publish content and engage with followers.
More info on moving Google Places content into Google+ Local can be found here
Have you made the switch to Google+ Local and do you think this will benefit your business? Let us know