Google Transitions to Google+ Pages for Business
Google has been trying to get more subscribers to Google+ and they implemented a change this week that they hope will begin to increase adoption. This week Google phased out Google Places, which contained company information, maps, directions, and customer reviews. Google Places has been replaced with Google+ Pages for Business. For some internet marketers this may end up being a welcome change, with all the schizophrenic behavior we’ve seen in Google Places over the past year. Hopefully once they work out the kinks, the “maps” listings in Google’s organic results will start ranking more consistently than they have been.
One of the new features is the integration of Zagat reviews into the Google+ business pages. (For those of you not aware, Google purchased Zagat for $151 million back in September.) Where Zagat once charged for their service, Google is now integrating it into their business pages for free.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Google is planning on rolling out a service as early as July called “Business Builder”. This service will likely integrate other products from the Google suite such as Google Wallet, Google Offers, AdWords Express, Punchd and TalkBin. This is meant to further the importance of Local Search and mobile marketing, and make small businesses further dependent on Google products to promote themselves online. So for now fire up your Google+ account and start getting familiar with it—more changes are coming and it’s likely Google+ will continue to be pushed toward the center of the Google universe.