Though Google has not totally shut down Google Places yet, lots of reports and blog posts all over the web already announced what the search giant is currently doing. A blog post by Greg Sterling from Search Engine Land reports the end of Google Places.
Google Places pages have been entirely replaced by new Google+ Local pages. As of this morning roughly 80 million Google Place pages worldwide have been automatically converted into 80 million Google+ Local pages, according to Google's Marissa Mayer. It's a dramatic change (for the better) though it will undoubtedly disorient some users and business owners.
Google+ Local, according to the search giant helps improve how people discover and share local businesses inside Google+. Below is an excerpt from Google's blog post.
With the release of Google+ Local, rolling out today, we are bringing the community of Google+ to local business owners around the world. We aim to improve the way people discover new businesses, rediscover places they love, and share them with their friends across the web.
More Socialized Pages for Local Business
With the launching of Google+ Local, the search giant is hoping to attract more business owners to create their own pages inside Google+ and encourage more interactions from the social network's (not so active) community.
With these updates, we're connecting the millions of people on Google+ to local businesses around the world. With one listing, your business can now be found across Google search, maps, mobile and Google+, and your customers can easily recommend your business to their friends, or tell the world about it with a review.
Zagat reviews are also featured on the local pages to provide potential consumers or clients better preview about the business.
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.
Google+ Local is the new face of Google Places. A closer look on how it works would definitely remind you of Foursquare and Facebook Places minus the check-ins. But, for sure, sooner or later, Google will definitely add the check-in feature.
Impact of Google+ Local to Business
This newest update from Google would surely encourage more and more business owners to create their business pages in Google+. But, for those entrepreneurs who are not familiar how Google+ works, a little help from Google SEO experts can lessen the hassle and can save them the time in figuring out how the social platform can be used to create more visibility and exposure for their business.
On the other hand, the Local pages can be viewed as the search giant's another business strategy to attract and get more people to join and actively participate in Google+. As Google+ is created to compete with social networking giants like Facebook and Twitter, the search giant doesn't want to lag behind the social networking race.
More Features Will Be Added to Google+
Aside from the Local pages, online marketing experts and bloggers predict that there are more web features that are soon to be integrated onto Google+. Jen Fitzpatrick, Google's VP Engineering, confirmed it through the Google+ Local blog post.
We know many of you have already created a Google+ Page for your business, and have been hosting hangouts and sharing photos, videos and posts. We're excited that we'll soon extend these social experiences to more local Google+ pages in the weeks and months ahead. To give you a sense of what's coming, we've worked with a few business owners to fully upgrade their listings early and share their Google+ business identity across Search, Maps and Mobile.