Google announced today that it was rolling out Google+ Local as "a simple way to discover and share local information featuring Zagat scores and recommendations from people you trust in Google+." The 80 million or so Google Places were automatically converted to the new Google+ Local pages this morning.
Google acquired Zagat last September and has been working to integrate it into everything Google since. Zagat was rolled into Google Search, maps and is now available on a new side tab in Google+. "Zagat has offered high-quality reviews, based on user-written submissions and surveys, of tens of thousands of places for more than three decades. All of Zagat's accurate scores and summaries are now highlighted on local Google+ pages, says Google.
Here's a list of what I've been able to discern has changed:
- Google Places pages are now Google+ Local pages
- Google+ now sports a "Local" tab
- Zagat reviews are now available to Google+ users and they're free
- Google search and Google maps are now integrated with Google+ Local pages and can be seen from your handheld mobile device
- A new filter for your Circles allows you to find reviews from your friends
- Google has dumped its star ratings system and implemented Zagat's 30-point rating system.
Here's an example of how Zagat scores and summaries are now highlighted on local Google+ pages:
Here's and example of what you may see if you're searching for a place in Google Search or Google Maps and you'll see the same image on your Android device:
Here's an example of how reviews and photos from your friends are now integrated into your search:
Google told business owners:
If you are a business owner, you should continue to manage your information in Google Places for Business. You'll still be able to verify your basic listing data, make updates, and respond to reviews. For those who use AdWords Express, your ads will operate as normal as they'll automatically redirect people to the destination you selected, or your current listing.
Google isn't finished yet. It announced more changes are coming. For now, it appears these changes will be good for consumers, once they adjust to the new look. We'll continue to use Google search as we always have with the new benefit of Zagat ratings and integrated maps. Maybe this will increase the number of active Google+ users around the world.
Let me know what you think of this change in the comments below.