As you may have heard, Google Places pages were replaced by the new Google+ Local pages on May 30. According to Google VP Local Services Marissa Mayer, about 80 million Google Place pages worldwide were automatically converted into 80 million Google+ Local pages. It’s a big change in an effort to provide relevant and trusted results to searchers by using the social space. However, the change undoubtedly raises a lot of questions for both users and business owners.
There will be a new way that businesses receive reviews and the way businesses are rated. Below is a brief summary of what is new and what is changing.
- Google+ Local pages have replaced Google Places pages
- A Local tab now appears within Google+
- Zagat reviews were integrated and are available in Google+ Local
- Google+ Local pages were integrated across all Google properties
- A Circles filter was integrated for finding reviews/recommendations from friends/family/colleagues
- Google’s star ratings were replaced by Zagat’s 30-point rating scale
Below is an example SERP for “burgers near Carlsbad” The first listing still has the old Google Places star rating, while the others show the new Zagat rating scale.
A business receiving third-party reviews can no longer receive them directly on its Place page. Now, individuals must use Google+ in order to write a review. Google wants to make the review system more social and believes this is a more versatile, interactive system.
The Zagat system uses a 30-point scale based on rating multiple areas such as food, décor, cost, and customer service. There is space for a brief paragraph written by the business owner, and several quotes from customer reviews are pulled in that area.
This change came as no surprise and was anticipated since Google+ was first announced. Your listings will still appear in the SERPs the same as before, and it’s not more difficult for an individual to leave a review for your business. Individuals will need to get a Google account in order to leave a review, which was also the case before the change.
As long as a business has both Google Places and Google + pages, Google will merge the two automatically, so businesses don’t have to do a thing.
If you don’t have a Google+ page for your business, don’t wait to create a Google+ page, or login to your existing page, and then claim your new “local” page on Google +. You might also want to encourage your customers to leave company reviews on the new Google + page, providing them with the Google + URL.
You can take the steps below to create your new Google+ page:
- Log in to Google+.
- Upload an image of your logo or an image of your business
- When your new page is done, the map for your business will be added
- Write your review in the paragraph space provided under the icon “edit your review”
Rather than being asked to rate businesses on a scale of 4 or 5 points, users are now asked to fill out a more structured form (shown below), and can also write their own review.
The Google+ Local pages enable the presentation of a wider variety of information types than Google Places allowed. They will permit local merchants to develop followers and message them, and to have the kinds of social interactions now available on Facebook and Twitter.
Google promises many more merchant features to come; the Google and Your Business Blog has more information.