Archive for Google Places

Google phasing out Places for Google+ Pages

Google announced today the release of Google+ Local, which will eventually replace Google Places.  I’ve been monitoring my customers accounts since I saw the announcement this morning, but it looks like the changes haven’t reached everyone yet.

The biggest changes for now are how Google handles pictures and reviews.  Business reviews and pictures are now handled through individual Google+ accounts and the rating system has switched over to Zagat’s 30-point scale.

The complete list of changes includes:

  1. Replacement of Google Places pages with Google+ Local Pages
  2. Addition of a “Local” tab in Google+
  3. Changing their rating system to a Zagat 30-point scale
  4. The continuing integration of Google+ into the rest of Google’s properties

As I absorb the changes and integrate my customers into the new interface, I’ll keep you updated with my thoughts.

The History of Google Places from David Mihm

David Mihm has put together a detailed infographic of the history of Google Places, from its beginning in March of 2004 as Google Local to the creation of the Google Place Page in October 2009 and the final re-branding of business listings to Google Places.  In the timeline he also includes significant personnel changes at Google, product changes, changes to the look of Local/Maps/Places, news and the launch of other local/mobile products.

I’ve been working in Local Search on a daily basis since June of 2008 and consider myself an expert in the field.  Even so, I’m still amazed by the changes and growth in that amount of time.  I keep abreast of the news and blog about it here, but seeing it all in one place is very cool.  As always, David Mihm has done a great job.

Here’s a small version of the graphic.  For a full-sized version, click on it to go to the source:

Google’s New User Interface – Maps, Places, & Home Page

Working in Google yesterday, I noticed that their interface had changed.  A quick search online brought me to Google’s official announcement that they’re “refocusing” the map.  I like the new, refined look with a lot more whitespace and the functionality.  The most noticeable change for me is that my name, and various Google products, are in a new black bar.  For those with Google+ beta accounts, their Google+ account information is highlighted.  Mike Blumenthal believes that the new look is there to get users ready for the rollout of Google +.

Here are some screenshots that I took to show how the new interface looks when I’m logged in:

Google Home Page

The new user interface when logged into Google's home page.

Google Maps Page

Google's New Interface - Maps Page

Google Places Page

Google's New Interface - Places Page

I just applied for my own Google+ beta account and I’m eager to try out Google’s next attempt at incorporating social media into it’s products.


2011 Local Search Rankings Released

David Mihm has released his annual Local Search Ranking Factors list.  This is the best resource for local search marketers like myself online.  Of particular interest in this edition is:

  1. The breakdown between “Pure” Local results (Places only, the traditional “7-pack”) and “Blended” Local results (where Places listings are blended with other search engine results).
  2. The ranking factors for “pure” and “blended” are similar but not identical.
  3. The statement that there is no substantial difference between optimizing for Google and optimizing for Yahoo and Bing.  With Google dominating search (a 65.4% share of all search as of February 2011), the local search experts saw no discernible benefit in trying to  optimize specifically for Yahoo or Bing.
  4. The importance of maintaining NAP integrity throughout your listings and citations.  9 of the 19 negative ranking factors involved a mismatch between the Place Page and website or the placement of information for multiple locations on one page.  What I take away from this is that there is a one-to-one correlation between your Place Page and the website that your Place Page links to.
  5. The importance of associating your website with your Place Page.

What stands out to you in the report?

Google Local Business Center is now Google Places

Once again, I got a surprise logging into my LBC this morning.  Google has changed the name of “Google Local Business Center” to “Google Places.”

This could mean any number of things.

  • Is Google moving away from a “business only” concept for their listings?
  • Are they changing the demographic they’re going after
  • Or is it simply that Google Places is less of a mouthful than Google Local Business Center?
Personally I think it’s the last one.  Any thoughts?