Marketing and SEO | By Stephanie Zahalka

Google Places replaced by Google Plus Local

Google Places is no more.

The search engine giant has replaced it with Google Plus Local (which will interface with Zagat) which expands Google’s efforts to encourage interaction on their social network. The change was announced Wednesday.
This is not the first time Google’s local search platform has undergone change. On 30th of May 2012, Google Plus Local has officially replaced Google Places.  Approximately 80 million Google Place pages were automatically converted to Google+ Local pages. Apparently, this isn’t a typical staggered rollout either – all of the Places pages will be converted to Google+ Local pages within a matter of days.

This is the latest push by the search engine giant to integrate Google Plus with more features which allow users to interact and network.

Google Plus Local will also interface with Zagat (a 2011 Google acquisition), providing a more complete restaurant review platform. The Google Plus Local website promotes the new interface as a portal to “discover great places through reviews and photos from people in (their network).”

Here are the most important changes that have been made:

  • Google+ Local pages will replace Google Places pages.
  • Google+ Local pages will be indexed by Google. That means that unlike the old Places pages, they’ll show up in search results.
  • Google+ has a new “Local” tab
  • The old 5-star review system has been replaced with the Zagat 30-point review system.
  • Google+ Local pages will be integrated across Google properties (Google+, standard search, Google Maps, mobile)
  • A Google+ circles filter has been added so you can find reviews from people you know

The conversion to Google+ Local pages is happening whether your Places page is claimed or not. If you’ve already claimed your Places page, you’ll continue to manage your information and reviews through Google Places for Business – so your back end won’t change. We mentioned it above, but in case you missed it – Google+ Local pages will be indexed. That means your Google+ Local page can show up in search results in local searches. It’s more important than ever to get on Google and claim your listing – your listing could potentially show up on Page One, so you should claim it and control it.

There’s HUGE potential for SEO benefits from this update – you’ll want to be sure that you get up to speed with Google+ as soon as possible.

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