Last Wednesday, Google rolled out some major changes: They did away entirely with Google Places, replacing it with the new Google+ Local. If you follow us on Twitter, you’ve already heard, but we thought it would be helpful to go into a little more detail to help folks understand just what this change means for their businesses. (If you want to check out our tweet, you can find it here. It also includes a link to a CNN article covering these changes.) Within two hours of this Google update rolling out, the PG team was hard at work to assess the damage. The next two days were filled with our entire team combing the Internet for information, brainstorming theories, and testing out these hypotheses. Now that we are confident in our understanding of the new Google+ Local, we feel it’s the right time to let you know what’s going on.
What Does All This Mean?
The short and sweet answer is that Google Places and Google+ Business Pages are being merged into a single entity. With last Wednesday’s rollout, they’ve just finished up step one of this process—essentially only visual changes. At this point, only how your information is being displaying to users has changed. No data has been modified, and only minimal functionality enhancements have been rolled out. A number of our clients have called in wondering if they need to create a Google+ Business Page as a result of this update. We’ll tell you what we’ve been telling all of them: “Nope.” If you do already have a Google+ Business Page, Google will automatically be merging it with your Google Places listing. If not, that’s just fine. You can also sit back and relax. Your Google Places listing will automatically be converted to Google+ Local as well. In the future, once the complete update has been implemented, your new Google+ Local listing will contain many of the features currently available on the Google+ Business Page, as well as contact info, maps, and reviews like on your old Google Places page. The new features will mainly impact the consumer experience by allowing users to more easily discover, share, and review businesses.
With all these names—Google Places, Google+ Business Page, Google+ Local—it’s easy to get confused and not a little bit overwhelmed. Don’t worry, though. You can rest assured that the entire Prospect Genius team is working hard to stay on top of these changes. Even as more updates roll out, we’re here to keep you informed of important news. Google tends to roll out updates prior to fully testing them, so we expect that there will be bugs and glitches with this process. That’s just how Google operates. If you see your listing vanish or vary in rankings, don’t panic. These next few weeks are certain to be full of temporary challenges as the full update is put into action. However, Prospect Genius’s automated tools are still working to check your information every day, so if a problem occurs, we’ll be addressing it right away.