Last week Google unveiled its new love child of Google+ and Google Places, Google+ Local.  Google’s launch of the new product is going to merge social interactions and reviews with local listings with a much more visually attractive interface than its predecessor Google Places.  Google+ Local is making local search more social and basing recommendations off of your friends and acquaintances in your circles.

 

 

Google+ Local will be brought into Google.com, Google Maps, Mobile Apps, and Google+.  In your Google+ page, you will notice a new “Local” tab containing a mix of popular, social and recommended content.  There are several variables at play that causes different listings to come up differently for everyone such as places you have visited or reviewed and recommendations of friends in your circles.

 

Users have more functionality when searching for local businesses with the additional information that businesses are able to share with the public.  Like Google+ profile pages where anyone has the ability to share news, photos, videos and posts, businesses will have the ability to reach out to followers with special deals, savings and events going on, similar to what Facebook and Twitter offers.

 

 

You will notice Google’s 5 stars rating replaced by Zagat’s 30-point rating scale.  Zagat’s extensive database of trustworthy reviews will be mixed into Google+ Local profiles. The Zagat reviews differ from the classic 5 star rating where instead of just adding stars, reviewers are asked several in-depth questions specifically geared toward the type of business and have the ability to leave additional comments.

 

 

With current Google Places listing owners, nothing has changed and listings have already converted into the new Google+ Local format.  You can continue to manage your information on Google Places.  If you need to claim your listing, you will still need to claim your listing and confirm you are the certified business owner by verifying with a PIN # by either phone or mail.  When filling out your Google Places profile make sure you complete your profile 100%.  Nothing says lazy more than an incomplete profile and with the new attractive interface; you want to take full advantage of the new layout. Be sure to fill out all the information, upload pictures and your logo, link YouTube Videos and any other information you feel is important for your customers to know about your business.  And because Google+ Local pages will be indexed, now is the time to claim your listing to help build your online visibility.

 

Google+ Local is a great chance for businesses to take advantage of what Google is offering and to help build their SEO presence.  Keep on the lookout within the next few weeks and months as Google rolls out more functionality and extends more options with Google+ Local.