Google Places Becomes Google+ Local

Google recently made a change that affects local businesses: Google Places, the business directory tied to Google Maps, turned into Google+ Local.   The change is aimed at consolidating business listings into a single profile to be used across Google’s various properties, as the Google+ social network grows in popularity.  While all of the information transferred to the new platform, there are some new features that you might want to get familiar with.  Check out the example Google+ listing below, followed by a list of the biggest changes and how they’ll affect your business.

VT Pub and Brewery G+ Local

All Google Places content transferred automatically
. All images, reviews, and contact info for your business transitioned to Google+ Local. Your company’s info will also look the same in Google Maps until people click through to your Local Page. This means you don’t have to worry about updating this info right away, though you might want to check out the new features anyway.

Zagat Reviews are integrated into Local Pages so customers can see what others have said about the business before checking it out themselves. This rating system has replaced Google’s 5-star ranking and provides more detail about what people think about the business.

Header images are customizable. Google automatically uses your location on Google Maps as your header image, but if you log in, you can update these just like you would with your Google+ Business Page. If you do decide to change your header image, your location on the map will still appear on your profile below your profile picture.

Local is connected with Google+, meaning that if users are logged into their G+ accounts and perform a Google search, they will see reviews and recommendations about local companies from people in their circles. The new Local Tab on Google+ also gives users the ability to find specific companies or look through different categories to find a local business. This makes updating your Google+ Local or Business page even more important for SEO.

So if you haven’t already, you should check out your business’s Google+ Local Page and play around with some of the new features. You can generally find your listing by searching for your company name in Google Maps, clicking the pin that identifies your business, then clicking the “more info” link.   Remember that it’s always important to keep an eye on your company’s reputation, so this might be a good time to find out what your customers are saying about you, especially if this change means that you’ll be showing up more readily in Google searches.

For more information about Google+, read our blog post on Google+ Business Pages.

What do you think of the change? Have you seen a change in your company’s Google ranking?