Yesterday Google announced that they are replacing Google Places with their Google Plus Local feature. (Another move to encourage everyone to get on their Google+ platform.)
Social reviews are the way of the world these days, but due to anti-trust lawsuits, Google had to remove it’s scraping of reviews from Yelp and other review sites. Well they recently purchased Zagat, a (previously) paid review site.
Zagat has offered high-quality reviews, based on user-written submissions and surveys, of tens of thousands of places for more than three decades. All of Zagat’s accurate scores and summaries are now highlighted on local Google+ pages.
What does this mean for businesses? Ensure you have a page set up on to Google+ now. Your local search results need to be found online and will then link into your Google+ account, where your visitors can learn more about you.
Continue to manage through Google Places for Business
If you are a business owner, you should continue to manage your information in Google Places for Business. You’ll still be able to verify your basic listing data, make updates, and respond to reviews. For those who use AdWords Express, your ads will operate as normal as they’ll automatically redirect people to the destination you selected, or your current listing. From Google’s Business Tips page.
From a personal perspective, I can’t be bothered making the move to Google+ when all my friends and contacts are on Facebook. Facebook is enough of a time suck without having to post everything in two places and have two sets of updates to read.
However, from a marketing and business perspective, Google is the giant in the search world and they are making massive pushes to integrate social media into their search engine. By social media, I mean Google+ (why would they help a competitor), in their goal to conquer the world. What this means for businesses is that you do need to get on Google+ and start promoting your page and places because although people may not be using it personally, your results will start turning up in their Google searches. If you’re there, then the traffic will flow and they will start to find more reasons to use Google+ as well.
Who knows, maybe one day I will update my personal Google+ account! (My problem is that I have 5+ gmail accounts that I use for business, personal and clients and am never on the right account to go to my Google+ page…).
Read more about the removal of Google Places from the Google Blog.
Or from CNN, Goodbye Google Places…