Google Places is now Google+ Local: What This Means for Local Search

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Barely a year has gone by since Google introduced Google+ Pages for business and they’re ready to take your business listing to the next level – by doing away with your Google Places.

Don’t panic, your map listing is safely being merged into a new Google+ Local page, which can create a better level of social interaction between customers and businesses.

One of the major changes you’ll notice is the absence of the familiar yellow star ratingsthat used to appear on local search results. This was done to favor Zagat reviews, which Google feels holds more clout than their old rating system. While that’s all well and good for restaurants, bars and nightclubs that rely on Zagat reviews for integrity, what about other businesses?

The good news is customers can still rate and review your Google+ Local page and your old information should automatically roll over to the new system, which gives an averaged score based upon reviews. The 30-point scale is displayed under your info along with your review count, letting potential customers continue to access feedback from previous clients.

So what does this mean to your existing Google Places listing? You’ll need to do some local business listing optimization to fully take advantage of the additional features of the Google+ Local pages. Photos, banners, and more detailed areas for description and info are very similar to the Facebook Pages for business, meaning you’ll need to devote the same amount of effort to enhance your listing.

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