Google has replaced Google Places with Google+ Local. Google+ Local allows businesses to combine their Google+ Page with their location on Google Maps.
Google+ users can now rate, review and upload photos for various businesses and locations. Users get personalized recommendations, see what places their friends have rated, and can help others find great places.
Google has combined forces with Zagat to allow the user to see more comprehensive reviews of local businesses based on Zagat’s 30-point scoring system and summary of user reviews.
Within Google+, the new “Local” tab, located on the right-hand side, encourages users to learn more about the places around them. For example, by searching for a restaurant or store through the tab, a Google+ page will appear with photos, reviews from people in your Circles, Zagat scores and summaries, and general information such as a business’s address and hours.
Google+ Local does not only exist within Google+ though. Users will be able to discover Google+ Local pages through regular Google search, Google Maps, or the Google Maps mobile app. As a result, Google+ becomes another local search destination within Google, arguably with richer content and more functionality than Google search offers at the SERP level.
Not unlike similar functionality offered in Foursquare, users will be able to sort and filter search results by several criteria, including a user’s Google+ Circles, which will reveal places “touched” by friends. Currently this applies to reviews and posts, but in the future could extend to check-ins.
Google+ Local pages are much more visually interesting and offer a wider variety of information. Not previously possible in Google Places, in Google+ Local, merchants can gain followers and send messages. Merchants now have access to social interactions similar to those available on Facebook and Twitter.
Overview of what’s new:
Google Places pages being replaced by Google+ Local pages
The new “Local” tab in Google+
The integration and free availability of Zagat reviews (its entire archive across categories)
The integration of Google+ Local pages across Google platforms (Search, Maps, Mobile)
Integration of a filter to find reviews/recommendations from members in your Google+ Circles.