On May 30, Google unleashed yet another major change on the online world by switching Google Local pages into Google+ Local pages. The distinction may seem small at first glance, but it’s huge in scope and has major repercussions for anyone who is trying to market a business online. With the update, Google local searches are a lot more social. Business owners have more opportunities to interact with existing customers and prospective customers. Internet users will notice a few changes, whether they are active on Google+ or not.
To get a clearer idea about the types of changes that have occurred due to the changeover, we’ve created a breakdown of them for you below:
- Zagat Reviews – The star rating system is out, and Zagat reviews are in. The 30-point Zagat scoring system allows people to create more nuanced and informative reviews. The review format is now a lot more structured, and people must provide scores for service, food and atmosphere. The new scoring system is live, and you can see it on Google Maps, the regular Google search engine and Google+.
- Circles Filter – As you browse through Google+ Local pages, you can filter the content that you find to only return results by people who are within your circles. This lets you quickly see what your friends and acquaintances are saying about specific businesses.
- Local Tab – There is now a Local tab on Google+. By clicking on it, you are taken to a completely personalized local homepage. There is now a split search box. One side is for the type of business that you need, and the other is for the location.
- Integration Across Google Properties – Google+ Local pages are now integrated across all Google properties, including mobile formats.
Google+ Local Pages
One of the most significant changes about the switchover from Google Local pages to Google+ Local pages is this: Google+ Local pages will be indexed. The opportunities for SEO are vast. Under the old format, it was impossible to create an option that allowed people to check-in to your business. That features is more than likely now in the works. On a visual level, the new Google+ Local pages are stunning. They have a lot more visual interest, and they closely resemble Facebook pages. Thanks to the new format, Google+ Local page owners will be able to interact with followers and take full advantage of social media features.
Android devices are expected to update to the new format almost instantly. An update for iOS is in the works. However, Apple is doing away with Google Maps in favor of its own Maps app shortly. At that point, iOS users will have to download the Google+ app to take advantage of the new Local features.
The Bottom Line
At the end of the day, the switch to Google+ Local pages spells bigger changes and possibilities for business owners than it does for everyday Internet users. However, casual users are sure to notice the subtle but consistent changes, especially with the new Zagat scores. As for business owners, the new Google+ Local pages should not be disregarded. If you haven’t already claimed your listing, you should get on top of that right away. If your listing has been claimed, click over to the new Google+ Local format to see what it’s like. It’s intuitive to manage, so you can switch things around to look as professional and appealing as possible without a lot of work. With these pages being indexed, sites that once toiled on the third or fourth results page may now climb a little higher.