Google Places Gone? New Google+ Local Pages Take Over
Yesterday Google announced a big change to the local search ecosystem; Google has launched their new Google+ Local pages. These new pages will be replacing Google Places listings, and will be taking their places in the search results. While there is still a lot of confusion on the changes and what will be happening, I have provided some information below to help make the transition smoother.
Managing Your Listings
For now Google says to continue to manage both your Places and Local+ listing through the Google Places admin. This may not be permanent, but in the meantime this is how you will be updating your listing. However, keep in mind that not all of the functionality of the old Places listings have carried over yet. For the time being you will not be able to use the post to places or add a video features. Although I expect that video functionality will return eventually.
You will be able to transfer reviews from you old Places listing, but they will all be anonymous. You will also have the option to import your reviews the first time you write a review on another Google+ Local page. Google will then ask you what information you want to import from your Places listing, which includes photos as well as your reviews.
The biggest change to reviews is that now people will need a Google+ account to write a review about you. Before people were able to right anonymous reviews or use a nickname, but now everyone will be required to use their name.
The Addition of Zagat
Although Zagat ratings have traditionally been for restaurants, they are being rolled out across all businesses. Instead of receiving an aggregated score combined from three different scores like a restaurant, normal businesses will receive a single number which will be their score.
Claiming a Local+ Page
The process for claiming a Local+ page is the same as it was for claiming a Places page. You will have the option of either receiving a postcard or a phone call with a verification code that you use to claim the listing.
Verified Listing Issues
Right now Google is having issues with showing Local+ listings as claimed. Google has said they are working on resolving this problem.
Merging Google+ with Local
While it hasn’t happened yet, Google will be merging you Google+ business page with your Local+ listing. We don’t know what form this integration will take, but it will be important to watch out for in the future.
My first recommendation is to set up a Google+ business page if you haven’t already. Although we don’t know what kind of integration will happen between business and local pages, the fact that you need a Google+ page to write reviews makes it essential you have a presence. Secondly, make sure all of your information transferred correctly. While most listing I have taken a look at appear to have made the transition correctly, there have been reports of recently updated information relating to the name, address, or phone number not updating to the Local+ listing.
The important thing with all these changes is to make sure your information makes the transition and everything is correct. If you would like more information Google has provided some information to help lessen the confusion around these changes here.