As it flicks everything over to the G+ family, Google has rebranded what was Google Places into Google+ Local. This local business feature has just got a lot more powerful with the exciting yet inevitable progression towards the interaction of other Google products. It will create a complete circle of social, local and mobile interaction.
Google has been plugging their G+ social profile in an effort to catch-up and ride the social wave that is encompassing and driving interaction online. This includes both personal and business profiles. They are also running Google offers (still in beta) exclusively within the US as a way to get deals at the best places to eat, shop, and play locally. The talk is a Google+ events feature linked to their calendar feature is due out soon, and of course the new Google+ Local. The Google+ social circle is growing and fundamentally underpinning all their other associated products.
A Google Place listing in its old format was a mechanism for achieving relatively quick high ranking search results for your business relating to local business search queries. This little red pin listing would be highlighted on prime page locations within the SERP’s and sometimes referenced in a map on the right hand side. It was as easily accessible within the Google Maps and Places interface and offered great exposure for business and brand recognition. It also pinpointed searchers and potential customers to your physical business location.
This feature, whilst great within the desktop space, mounts into insignificance when you compare its power within the mobile platform.
Search traffic within the mobile space has come to inherit its own characteristics and normally relates to a keyword in conjunction with a geographical location. This characteristic is reflective of the need to know information here and now and usually at that location. Google has always delivered results not only based on the search term but also in relation to your location (use my location) picked up by the internal GPS tracking linked to the phones location. If the nature of the query relates to goods and services locally, the results will now be favoured with a new Google+ Local result. These results will take pride of place within the mobile screen and users are presented with reviews, mapping directions and instant click to call options. Take a look at the coffee shop search example. Whilst still showing some of the inherit features of the old Places format i think you get an understanding of the search landscape.
With instant results, social endorsements, location recognition and click to call features, Google + Local packs a hell of a lot of punch in what has traditionally been a very over looked feature. These powerful features wrapped up within this micro site will soon be enhanced with the switch over to the Google+ format allowing the bolt on of other features.
Imagine the process of searching for a local service on a mobile device. The results are delivered through the Google+ Local listing as the first point of interaction. If there has been previous social interaction with that service from your circle of Google+ friends that can trigger a social and emotional endorsement of that service. This is a very powerful connection and something that is likely to offer great value to businesses. If there is no prior connection the opportunity may exist to deliver a coupon offer through the Google+ Offers (Formerly Google Offers, big prediction from me) linked to your Google+ Local Listing. Once business is done through the Google+ Offer a social review can be attributed to the service and so the connection is completed and self generating. Social interaction drives conversation, recommendations and consumerism.
It will be interesting to see how the Google+ portfolio rolls out and what other features it will offer. It also remains to be seen if people will embrace yet another social platform in the form of Google+. I can’t predict the future but I do now about here and now and at the moment Google+ Local listings present a great opportunity for you to drive business your way via mobile, mapping and social platforms.