Google Places Pages Kick the Bucket: Introducing Google+ Local

As many of you are already aware, Google has finally made the first step toward a more unified social and local search product.  Google+ Local has replaced those pesky Google Places Pages that we’ve grown to despise in the digital marketing world.  Are the days of duplicate, disappearing, and downright screwy listings behind us?  Not quite yet.  However, are we making strides towards the promised land of an online space where local businesses can better interact with customers while easily personalizing and managing their listing?  We most definitely hope so.

What you need to know, right now:

Just one day after the update, we aren’t seeing anything to panic about as a local business.  Essentially, Google has given their stale Places Pages a quick makeover to more closely resemble a Google+ Business Page.  We’ve picked out four of the most important things to understand.

  • New Look, New Link

If you’ve tried to find your Google listing in the past day, you’ll notice that it has changed to a whole new look.  With that new look comes a new URL.  For those of you that have been driving customers to write reviews to your Google Places Page, it is essential that you update this link to your new and improved Google+ Local Page.  It’s possible that Google will eventually redirect those old listings to the new ones, but for now, get that new link to your happy customers and continue driving reviews!

  • Google Zagat RatingUpdated Rating System (Zagat)

About a year ago, Google acquired Zagat in a move that is finally hitting the pavement.  The days of 5-stars are behind us – welcome to the Zagat scale.  Now, customers will be given the option to review your business from 0 to 3 and your overall score will be an average of these scores converted to a 30-point scale.  Not the easiest to understand at first glance, but nothing to be worried about.

  • Managing is the Same

Did you have a log-in to your Google Places Page that you’ve used to respond to reviews in the past?  Great – you’re all set!  To change info or respond to reviews on your Google+ Local Page, use the same log-in information as before to get to your Google Places for Business dashboard.  For now, the dashboard interface hasn’t changed.

  • Your Google+ Business Page is NOT Your Google+ Local Page 

It’s important to understand the difference between a Google+ Business Page and your newly created Google+ Local Page.  You can see from the screenshots below that L2T Media has set up a Google+ Business Page where we share socially minded posts, photos, and more.

L2T Media G+ Business Page

Also, Google has automatically created a Google+ Local Page where customers can write reviews and get directions to our business.

L2T Media G+ Local Page

While these two pages are separate for now, this will eventually change.  Google has stated that the option to link your business page with your local listing will be an option in the future.

Constantly changing details aside, Google’s latest update to their local search product is just another clear indicator of their end goal – a product that goes beyond local search and enters an integrated online community for local businesses across the globe.  At L2T, we’re keeping a keen eye on the updates and will be continuously weighing what is best for our clients’ online presence moving forward.

UPDATE

iOS (Apple) and Android Devices

There is currently no way to write a review from your iOS or Android powered device.  If you perform a Google search for the business, you can see their information and reviews, but there is not an option to write a review (see the screenshot below).  This is a bug that Google is aware of and is currently attempting to fix.

Portillos iPhone Listing

Also, the new Google+ Local Page that has replaced the Google Places Page is not viewable from a mobile device’s browser at this time.  For Android, you can view these pages and write a review from the Google+ Android App.  For Apple, the Google+ App has not yet been updated to handle these pages.  Google has submitted an update for their app to Apple, but it is currently in the review and approval phase.  The update should be available soon.

We will continue to monitor as Google makes updates moving forward and will adjust our strategy accordingly.  Luckily, Google is making very frequent updates right now while the new product rolls out and we should see some progress soon.

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