Yesterday, Google made a pretty big change to their local business pages. That is to say, they removed them. As of this morning, all of the local pages are in transition to a new page hosted by the Google + platform. Google has several reasons for making the change, which they explain will create a simpler experience for customers. This simpler experience includes a more proficient rating system, using ratings from Zagat when applicable. Google says it will also make it easier for searchers to leave reviews and recommend businesses to the friends in their circles while logged in to their Google Plus account.
The transition seems to be fairly smooth in terms of bringing over content, though for now it is still recommended that business owners manage their listing through the Places for Business. Right now, the changes have created new plus pages for the business that you can navigate to through the maps listing. For businesses that already have created and manage a local Google Plus page, Google’s instructions is to “hold tight” for updates on how to link the two pages together.
The change will not make a huge difference to customers / searchers in terms of their searching habits. If anything, the move to this new platform should make finding the right places easier, offering more insight on recommendations and reviews, as well as personal “plusses” from those in their circles (if they are signed into their Google account). For business owners, it will require more effort. Whereas before it was enough for owners to claim, optimize, and manage their places page; Google Plus has plenty of bells and whistles to enhance listings. It will be to the owner’s benefit to add content and find ways to get the page out there. In addition, this Local Plus page will count as an indexed page, meaning it will show up as a search result.
Stay tuned to the Evolving Interactive blog for more information on the transition to Google Plus Local, including optimization tips and important notes.
In the meantime, here are some resources to help you better understand the transition.