Adios Google Places! Hola Google+ Local!

In case you haven’t noticed, in the last couple of days, Google has completely removed Google Places listings from the search results. When you click on a local listing, you are now directed to a Google+ Local page. So what does this mean for your business and your rankings? We will see.

Now before you freak out about losing your rankings, just relax. It appears so far that rankings have not changed. It’s what’s on the page that is really different. Reviews are still there, although there are some changes to them, which we’ll get to in a minute.

The layout is obviously different, and I think for the better. It’s a much more visually appealing layout and it gives you a little more control over the look of your page, just like your Google+ page.

Google has a few really great reasons for this change. One is that they are forcing all local search interaction to be done through Google+. Another is that it encourages greater community interaction by integrating the Circles filter to find reviews of friends and family.

For restaurants, Zagat reviews are now integrated into the page as well as the search results. For other reviews, the format has changed a little, but your old Places reviews are still there. The biggest difference is that they are no longer the star rating they were before. When a user leaves a review, they have to score the business based on various things like food, service, décor, etc.

You will still manage your Google+ Local page through the old Google Places admin panel, so that has not changed. Yet.

As we continue to work more and more with this new format, we’ll keep you updated on how to effectively market your business on the new Google+ Local. But so far, I’m excited about this change because I think it will improve the user experience tremendously.

What are your thoughts on the new changes? Leave a comment below!

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