No more Google Places. That’s right, according to an official Google Blog post, Google Places, that handy product for businesses to list themselves on for a chance to appear in localised search results, is being phased out and replaced with an addition to Google+, to be known as Google+ Local.
Local information will appear in a dedicated tab in Google+, and will be available in normal search too, similar to the way in which Google Places are currently displayed as local search results.
Google assures us that no additional work is required on our part, and that the existing information on Google Places will simply be rolled over into Google+ Local.
Google also explained that it was not necessary to have a Google+ page for your business, and that for now, the information in your Google+ Local page will remain separate from any Google+ page you may have. Places information will still be managed from the same Google Places log-in and interface.
They have however said that there will be more changes to come, so it’s possible that full integration with Google+ is coming to Google+ Local in the future.
At present, it’s integrated with Google Maps in the same way that Google Places was, and of course, as mentioned, local information will be available in a specialised tab inside Google+ too.
Another way in which Google+ Local differs from the original Google Places is in the review stakes. This change has apparently been prompted by the 2011 acquisition by Google of the restaurant review site Zagat, and the new reviews are now based on a scoring system that provides local listings with a review score that takes a number or factors into consideration.
As with the majority of Google’s new products, the social component of local data is being emphasised. If, for example, somebody in your circles has reviewed a restaurant you’re considering, their review will show up so that you know your friend likes the place.
Roll-Out In Progress
The new variation on Google Places isn’t available everywhere yet, but Google is in the process of rolling it out everywhere, so even if you’re not seeing it yet, you probably will be soon.
I’m not sure how this will affect linking Google Ads to Places listings, but I’m sure we’ll find out soon, and as soon as we do, we’ll let you know.