Google Places was database of businesses extracted from directory sites. Because the database initially contained the name and address of businesses, Google were able to create listings of local businesses when a person searched for a specific service for their location.
In order to provide value to the person searching, businesses were listed in a block above organic search results and companies were rewarded with better search ranking if they claimed their business and added images, opening hours and general descriptive information.
As Facebook enhanced their social platform by providing business pages allowing companies to market information about their products and services, whilst also building a community through interaction, Google have looked to incorporate more sophisticated reviews and provide interactive ways for businesses to communicate by merging Google Places with social platform known as Google+ thus creating Google+ Local.
This hasn’t been a smooth transition and Google’s functionality for local business has been launched and branded multiple times as “Google Local”, “Google Maps”, “Google Places”, “Google Places with Hotspot”, back to “Google Places” and now “Google+ Local”.
This ever changing evolution and branding has probably had a negative effect on business owner take-up as they probably don’t see any value.
How does Google see Google+ Local?
When you look at the Google support pages pages, the focus is on user reviews to provide searchers with a detailed insight into a businesses before you visit. They want people to post useful reviews photos and images to build up a reviewer persona so others can find reviews from people they know and trust, highlighted in their search results
For the business owner their business information and online performance can be monitored through the new dashboard.
I want to fully test Google+ Local and document it’s features and how the platform could be used to attract clients for local businesses.
Let me know how you’re using the platform.