Starting today, Google+ users are seeing a new tab in the left sidebar: Local.
Clicking Google+ Local takes the user to a special search page, with the user’s default location already filled in. Enter a search query and you get a screen of Google Places results for the entered location:
Obviously this is the long-promised integration of Google Places with Google+. At this time, there does not appear to be any reciprocal link into Google+ from the normal Places results in Google search.
If you search for something that typically has customer ratings in Google Places, the results are ranked by “score” based on those ratings:
On Google Maps or in Google Search, clicking the “More Info” link on the pinpoint popup takes you directly to the new Google+ Local page for that business:
Obviously, this dramatically increases the importance for local businesses to get good ratings on Google Places. Consumers can also post ratings on the listings in Google+ by clicking the pencil icon at the upper right of each listing. The first time you click that icon, you are alerted that all ratings will be publicly viewable, both in Google+ and in Google search. Then a confirmation screen appears, offering to post any or your previous reviews:
After confirming and publishing your existing reviews, you get the form to post your new review:
You then get the opportunity to share your rating as a public Google+ post, including the ability to add your own comment as with any share on Google+. Here’s what the final published post looks like:
Google Plus Local vastly expands the reach that businesses can have through their Google Places listing. It seems a no-brainer now that every local business should pay a lot more attention to those listings, and find any way they can to encourage customers to post positive reviews.
Here’s another reason why this is so powerful: remember that Google+ public posts are indexed for Google search. Now that your customer’s ratings of your business can become, essentially, indexed web pages, your business gains more opportunities to be found in Google search results.
BONUS: This update also fully integrates Zagat reviews into the results!
UPDATE: On the Google and Your Business Blog, Google has listed a set of features coming soon that will further integrate Google+ business pages with the new Google+ Local listings:
More changes coming soon for business owners
We know many of you have already created a Google+ Page for your business, and have been hosting hangouts and sharing photos, videos and posts. We’re excited that we’ll soon extend these social experiences to more local Google+ pages in the weeks and months ahead. To give you a sense of what’s coming, we’ve worked with a few business owners to fully upgrade their listings early and share their Google+ business identity across Search, Maps and Mobile.
Here’s what those enhanced Google+ Pages with Google+ Local included will look like. Notice the inclusion of the Local rating information in the About tab of the Page:
With that promised integration, it is now more important than ever that every local business have a Google+ brand page. I have a post with great tips on how to optimize your Google+ brand page.
Here’s Google’s official video introducing the new features:
How will you make use of Google+ Local? Will this new feature cause your business to pay more attention to your Google Places listing?
Now that’s very exciting. Have been playing around with it for a short time …
This is Google nodding towards the mobile user.. where it knows that a majority of mobile search as location based. Its the step that Facebook keep hinting towards but don’t take – integrating social into the location – but with google they have the search functionality as well as the social connectivity.
Will be interesting to see how this evolves.
Russel, you hit the nail on the head! This is what I’ve been preaching since I joined Google+ on its third day. The reason Google+ is the sleeping giant of Internet marketing is its direct tie in of all Google services, including (most importantly) Search. Now Google+ Local gives further reach into mobile, where Facebook is struggling. This is indeed huge!
It’s certainly an interesting development. Will be interesting to see how quickly they integrate the Google+ and Google Places listings into a single entity.
Mark, feel free to delete this comment when you respond to it… your Snippet for this page says:
“Google Places is not fully integrated into Google Plus. Learn what this means for your business.” and I think the word NOT should be the word NOW.
Thanks Ronnie. Typo in the meta description. Now corrected.
I hope this gives us more tools to control our listings on G+ Local. My Google Places listing has been a mess for a year, it has merged information from several Realtors. Very frustrating.
I hope so too, Karen. We have several clients just as frustrated for the same reasons.
Thanks for this. I was wondering what had happened to Google Places-Hotpot-10 pack..Etc. It makes much more sense now that Google is making Search/Social a one stop shop. In fact, I’m really excited about this as I can finally really make social work for me as it will show up along side local search results! Zuck and Co. may end up rueing the day they decide to shut Google out from FB. As of today, It’s bye bye FB Biz page and all in on Google!
What I REALLY don’t like about the new Google Places, is the requirement that your review post your real first and last name. In the middle of a debate about internet privacy, and with Google+ looking increasingly like an expensive failing experiment, I can’t believe that Google is moving away from voluntary anonymity. It makes it much easier for me to use yelp instead.
I hear your concern, Adam, but Google has been moving this way since the introduction of Google+. From the beginning, it was policy on G+ that all profiles by in the full name of a real person (Facebook has the same policy, btw, though it’s widely ignored). This set off a minor controversy known as the “‘nym wars” in support of those who have a pseudonymic identity by which they are “branded” on the Internet. Google finally compromised somewhat by agreeing to grant pseudonymous accounts if the individual could provide sufficient proof that they are widely known on the web by that name.
From the beginning it has been clear that the Google+ project (and its slow but sure integration into all things Google) has been about identity. Google wants to have a real identity unique to each person that it can then link to everything else that person does on or through Google. Places has now been attached to that.
While the lack of anonymity will indeed discourage some from writing reviews, on the positive side, Google probably hopes that it will go some distance toward combating the scourge of fake and competitor-placed reviews that plague most sites like Yelp.
Hi, I just submitted my new Google Place Listing. I hope to get positive results from this. I will surely explore more on that Google+ Local. Anyway thanks great article!