06/03/2012 // Dallas, Texas, USA // Press Release Service // Wired PR News // (press release)
Wired PR News — Google Places is no more. Hot on the heels of their $150 million acquisition of the New York-based review site, Zagat, Google has wholly replaced Google Places with the newly titled and feature rich Google+ Local. The new service offers recommendations of local destinations based on the curated preferences of the user’s friend list and other Google+ users. The goal of the new service, according to Google’s director of product management, Avni Shah, is to help users to discover reputable hotels, eateries and coffee shops.
Personal Recommendations Count
Users trust the recommendations of friends far more than any other source. It’s part of the reason that businesses are so desperate to build a positive reputation on the various social media platforms. If users search for Italian dining on Google+ Local, results might include a review of the local Italian restaurant, positive or otherwise, from their friends. Conversely, those users searching for the perfect gift for a friend may well see a review from her about a local boutique that she loves. Google+ Local works by combining the most relevant information that Google knows about the user, their friends and individual locations.
The Importance of Local Search
Google+ Local seeks to capitalize on the incredible amount of local search traffic. According to the comScore U.S. Search Engine Rankings report for April 2012, there were 17.1 billion core searches performed within that month alone. If Google is to be believed that local searches account for 20% of all searches made, a figure of 3.4 billion local searches is realistic. That’s an incredible amount of users seeking pretty much the exact information that Google+ Local is seeking to provide.
So What’s New?
Pitched as the new way to share and discover local information, Google+ Local, available for desktops and Android-based mobiles, integrates over 80 million pages of Google Places with three decades worth of existing Zagat reviews for dining, nightlife destinations and other places of interest. Notable changes include:
– Pages for Google Places have been replaced with Google+ Local pages
– A “Local” tab has been added to the left hand navigation of Google+
– Zagat reviews have been incorporated into the new service as a free extra
– Google+ integrates Google search and Google maps and is viewable from mobile devices
– Google Circles has a new filter added to allow users to find reviews written by their friends
– The existing Google star rating system has been removed in favor of the 30-point Zagat rating system that takes into account everything from food and decor to service and cost
Google+ Local removes the limitations of Google Places with the provision of interactive content-based pages that serve to imitate the functionality of the likes of Facebook and Twitter. Specifically it will allow merchants to build up a base of followers that they can communicate with in relation to their products and services, increasing the level of social interaction between the two. Although the use of Google+ Local doesn’t require that users be signed up to Google+, it’s fair to assume that many users will, which should serve to increase the popularity of Google+ as a whole.
It’s a fairly dramatic change for Google, but with more merchant features in the pipeline and local search traffic growing month by month, it’s a change that will almost certainly be for the better for users and business owners alike. As Greg Sterling, of Search Engine Land, points out, businesses should ignore Google+ at their peril.
comScore: April 2012 U.S. Search Engine Rankings
Search Engine Land: Google Place is Over, Company Makes Google+ The Center of Gravity For Local Search
Social Media Today: RIP Google Places – Google+ Integrates Zagat
Zagat Blog: Local – Now with a Dash of Zagat and a Sprinkle of Google+
Image from http://www.talkandroid.com/59305-google-gets-zagat/
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