Google Places is no longer with us…
Well, actually, it still is, but not for long. The main idea Google has, apparently, is to completely replace Google Places with Google+ Local pages.
This is yet another step Google takes to develop their social network, and to convince people (and businesses) to join the network and start interacting with prospective customers there.
How to Use Google+ Local Pages
When you go to your Google+ profile, you’ll see a new tab – “Local” in the main sidebar.
When you click it, you’ll be presented with an overview of what’s going on in your current location. You’ll see various Local pages for restaurants, hotels, museums, stores, etc.
When you click on an individual listing, you’ll see a short summary along with some reviews and scores given by other people.
Right now, Local pages use a 30-point scale introduced by Zagat – an online restaurant rating and review tool that Google bought one year ago.
Each user can rate every business (restaurant, hotel, etc.) on a scale of 0-3. Zagat then takes those scores and translates them to the final scale of 0-30.
Google+ Local Pages And Other Tools
Google integrates their new Local pages with other tools on team Google. For instance, the service is already integrated with the main Google search engine and Google Maps.
Also, if any of your friends submits a review for a given business, you will see this review when you visit the business’ Local page.
What To Do With Your Current Google Places Page
At this point, it’s difficult to tell because various changes are still being implemented. For now, you can manage your existing Google Places page normally via Google Places for Business.
However, as you’ve probably noticed, all data from your Places page has been transitioned into a new Google+ Local page, so somewhere down the road Google will probably announce that all administration will move to Google+.
There’s one more thing worth mentioning here. Apart from Google Places and the new Google+ Local you still have your Google+ business pages (and if you don’t, this is a good moment to get one).
In the future, Google will probably integrate all of these elements into one single element to provide the best user experience possible.
What’s your take on all this? Is Google+ a valuable asset for your business, or are you yet to make an appearance there?