Say goodbye to Google Place Pages, and say hello to Google+ Local Pages. That’s the name for Google’s new baby — a result of the marriage, or merger, of Google Places and Google+.
It’s the main part of several related announcements today from Google. As I’m writing this late Tuesday night, there’s no link yet for me to send you to, so let me suggest you check out Greg Sterling’s detailed overview of the news on Search Engine Land – plenty of information, screenshots, etc., in his article.
Update: Google’s announcement is here.
The TL;DR version for small business owners is this:
- About 80 million Google Place Pages worldwide have been converted into the new Google Plus Local Pages. If you had a Place Page, it’s gone; you now have a Google+ Local Page, instead.
- Merchants will continue — at least for now — to manage the pages via the Google Places listing center (or whatever they’re calling it these days).
- Reviews of your business are getting more sophisticated because Google is adding Zagat’s 30-point scale/score to your Local Page, and getting rid of its old 5-star scoring system. The Zagat scores will show up next to your business on Google.com searches, Google Maps, and on mobile devices.
And what I’d consider to the biggest change/impact of all:
Google+ Local Pages are being indexed and will show up in Google’s search results — probably quite visibly.
Google Place Pages were blocked from showing in search results, primarily because Google considered a Place Page to be a search result itself.
There are obviously big implications where local SEO is concerned. I need to think through this some more but it appears that we’ll need to start talking about how to optimize a Google+ Local Page since it’s being indexed. David Mihm and I recently wrote speculative pro and con articles about how Places and Plus would integrate, but neither one of us accounted for the complete elimination of Place Pages, their replacement by Google Plus Local Pages, and the new pages being indexed.
What It Looks Like
Here are a few screenshots from a Google media presentation. The first two show Google.com and Google Maps search results, and the third shows the new Google+ Local Page.
(You should click the first two for larger versions that aren’t slightly blurred.)
As I mentioned, Greg Sterling has a lot more screenshots and details on Search Engine Land.
Several questions come to mind as I type this tonight, without the luxury of seeing Google’s full announcement or being able to see all of these changes in a live setting:
- Does Google consider these search results? Presumably not, since they’re now being indexed. Hopefully that means business owners won’t have to put up with seeing their competition listed in the “Related places” section like on the old Place Pages.
- Will competitor ads eventually appear on Google+ Local Pages? Right now there’s no advertising on any Google+ page, but that will certainly change at some point.
- How will Google protect against the all-too-common problems like merged listings and messy data? It was one thing when Place Pages were merged, but it’s a whole new ballgame with Google+ Local Pages. If two pages are merged, Company A could suddenly have access to Company B’s followers, not to mention the ability to post updates via Google+. It could be a disaster waiting to happen.
I’ll probably write more about today’s announcement later on Search Engine Land, but for now feel free to speak up — What are your thoughts on the end of Place Pages, and the birth of Google+ Local Pages? Comments are open! (As always, if you’ve never commented before, your first comment is moderated.)