June 6, 2012

Google Places Becomes Google Plus Local

Google Places Map

Google rolled out a huge change for local businesses who have claimed, managed, optimized, and gathered reviews for their Google Places listing to help appear in locally-targeted search results.  Now Google is using Google+ Local in place of Google Places.  However, you still manage the listing through the ‘old’ Google Places dashboard.  For now.

I’ve been doing a lot of research on this change because we have a number of clients who depend on their Google Places listing to appear at the top of search results.  Many of the listings have transitioned without a problem while others saw that their new page did not update with photos or video, even though they are there in the dashboard.

While looking into this issue and exploring the help center articles around this change, I noticed that there is very little guidance for business owners who need help managing their new Google + Local page.  All of the information that Google presents is aimed at the user interacting with business pages.  For instance, it is easier than ever for anyone to add new photos without the owner’s consent or approval.  We will have to be more vigilant about monitoring these pages for appropriate content and to stay on track with branding and messaging.

Another question that came up is whether Google will be merging existing Google + Pages for business with their corresponding  Google+ Local pages.  Right now, they’re 2 separate pages but they might be merged in the future.  A Google employee commented about this on a forum: “We know it’s not ideal right now, but we’re working to consolidate these pages into a single page where you guys can manage your presence across Google. ”

I wanted to share some good resources I found on the transition from Google Places to Google+ Local.  No one seems to have all the answers at this early stage but we’re trying!

It’s Finally Here: Chronicling the Plus-Places Merge
Google Plus Local Roundup
Google+ Local – Learn More Here (from a Google employee at Google Products Forum)
Google Official Announcement for Google+ Local

Let me know if you have any more good links on this topic that I should know about.  Thanks!