Attention retailers, restaurants, hotels and more: Google Places are no more. Instead, Google has announced its new Google+ Local component will be replacing Places. Is this is an important piece of the local search results puzzle that local businesses do not want to miss out on or another attempt for Google to force us to use Google+? Well, it seems that it’s both.
The new Google+ Local results look a little something like the screen shot above, including the addition of Zagat reviews in place of the Google five star ratings. When signed into Google+, users can also see more reviews and recommendations from people in their Circles.
Through Google+ Local pages, recommended places could be anything from a pizza place to a hotel. It seems rather arbitrary as the Francis Marion Hotel is easily 15 miles from where I currently sit at my laptop. Also, an overall score of 18 getting top billing is slightly confusing, but perhaps they will refine results as I cultivate more information about myself and my interests on Google+.
Scrolling down the page gives me some more ideas for restaurants in the area that have high ratings:
This could be a powerful tool for local businesses, as it could provide merchants with a great way to socially engage with consumers by allowing them to develop followers, send them messages and interact with them in ways similar to those available through Facebook and Twitter. According to Google and Your Business Blog, the tech giant plans to extend social experiences to Google+ Local pages, like hosting hangouts and sharing photos, videos and posts.