Google Places Gets Plussed

Company debuts Google+ Local

Social-local-mobile has become an industry-favorite (and much-hated) buzzphrase over the past year as restaurants and retailers look to tie their social media presences with consumers’ mobile wanderings. Google’s is looking to capitalize on this supposed phenomenon by bringing its Places product under the Google+ umbrella via a new Google+ Local tab added to the social network today.

Now when users click on select locations within a Google map or search results page, they’re directed to that location’s Google+ page, not the Google Places page they would have previously encountered. Not all locations have yet been migrated to the new format, but roughly 80 million have been converted so far, according to Search Engine Land.

A location’s Google+ page features much of the same content as the Places page (address, hours, photos, reviews) but framed within Google+ to stress the social functions such as the ability to +1 a page or share it to Google+. And putting its acquisition of Zagat last fall to work, Google has outfitted the pages with Zagat ratings and reviews to replace its previous starred system.

“For years, Zagat has provided trustworthy, concise, user-generated reviews, and we are excited to bring these to Google+ Local. We’ve also updated our scoring system to Zagat’s time-tested 30-point scale, so that users can better share their view about what makes a place unique,” said Jen Fitzpatrick, Google’s vp of engineering, in a company blog post announcing the change.

For Google+ users, Google+ Local takes the form of a new tab, which when clicked yields a page of recommended places within a user’s location as denoted in their Google+ profile. Recommendations are organized in categories such as sushi places or bakeries, but users can also search within Google+ Local for a specific restaurant or restaurant type (like say a diner), or filter listings by those recommended or reviewed by people in their Google+ circles. Google is also rolling out Google+ Local to its Maps app for Android devices with plans to do so soon for iOS devices.