At the end of May, Google made major changes to their local search offerings by replacing Google Places with Google+ Local. The update automatically changed approximately 80 million local business profiles to Google+ Local pages.
Google+ users will have already noticed a “Local” tab on their G+ homepages. In many ways, the functionality of the local search remains intact. The biggest changes include the appearance of business pages, and the integration of these pages across other Google tools such as search, maps, and G+, and mobile.
Google+ Local has also incorporated features from Zagat such as business reviews, which all users can access for free. Additionally, Google+ users can see what their friends and colleagues are saying about a given local business by filtering reviews from their circles.
The local search now operates on Zagat’s 30-point rating scale as opposed carrying over the star ratings from Google Places. Local business owners may see changes in their local SEO influence through these new Google+ Local pages, where customer reviews and social interactions develop organically. Since the Google+ Local pages have not yet made any noticeable impact on search engine results, however, small businesses should not be hasty in halting existing marketing campaigns.