For local businesses, Google Places has been essential in allowing your business to be found. For those that have used it wisely, they have been able to capture large amounts of business. For those businesses that have neglected it, their competition may have been generating a significant advantage.
But, when Google Plus was created (about a year ago), it became apparent that Google (the giant of search) was putting all of their weight behind some major changes. Google Plus was going to be the absolute center of the universe.
For business, a major earthquake just occurred. Although we knew that the earthquake was coming, it was announced today.
Google Pages has been entirely replaced by Google+ Local. In fact, about 80 million Google Places pages were automatically converted into Google+ Local pages.
Here are a few of the major changes:
- The substitution of the new Google+ Local pages (as mentioned) for Google Places pages
- The appearance of a “Local” tab within Google+
- The integration and free availability of Zagat reviews (its entire archive across categories)
- The integration of Google+ Local pages across Google properties (search, Maps, mobile)
- Integration of a circles filter to find reviews/recommendations from friends/family/colleagues
This change creates a heavier integration of social media and customer reviews into Google. As if it wasn't important before, social integration and customer reviews are more important than ever now for businesses.
This is a great time to become engaged, as a business, with local search. It is a MAJOR way that your clients or customers are searching for products and services.
Like all marketing today, it is making fast and furious changes. Now your business needs to keep up.