Google launched Google+ a little less than a year ago in an attempt to successfully enter the social media arena. While Google+ still has a long way to go to compete in terms of subscriber numbers with Facebook (approximately 100 million active Google+ users vs. one billion for Facebook ), Google has made a lot of progress over the past year to enhance how search and social work together and drive adoption of Google+.
Now, Google has taken another huge step to advance in social by releasing Google+ Local and retiring Google Places. Google+ Local brings the social aspect front and center for businesses.
The initial release of Google+ Local comes with 3 key enhancements:
- Integrated local information across Search, Maps, and Mobile (Android today, iOS devices soon), creating a better local search experience for consumers.
2. Inclusion of Zagat’s 30-point scale that allows consumers to rate different aspects of a business (service vs. price, for example), replacing the 5-star rating system previously used in Google Places.
3. Display of what your friends are saying about places when their recommendations and opinions show up on the Google+ Local page for a location, bringing word-of-mouth marketing and advertising to the forefront.
This is definitely just a first step for Google in bringing local search results together with social. Look for future Google+ Local enhancements that will allow businesses to fully take advantage of all the social features within it. For the most up-to-date info, follow Google’s blog.