Google has announced that it's rolling out Google+ Local, which it bills as "a simple way to discover and share local information".
Google is finally revealing just what it's going to do with it's Zagat acquisition, as Google+ Local features Zagat scores, as well as recommendations from Google+ connections. "Since Zagat joined the Google family last fall, our teams have been working together to improve the way you find great local information," says Director of Product Management, Avni Shah. "Zagat has offered high-quality reviews, based on user-written submissions and surveys, of tens of thousands of places for more than three decades. All of Zagat’s accurate scores and summaries are now highlighted on Google+ local pages. "
Google+ Local is also integrated into search, Google Maps and mobile (Android...iOS is on the way). Inside Google+, it has its own tab. When you use that tab, you can search for specific places or browse non-specific ones. When you click on a place, you'll go to a local Google+ page with photos, Zagat scores, summaries, reviews from friends and other info, like hours of operation, address, etc. Google will show you the same info if your'e using Search or Maps, it says.
Here's what it looks like on Google+:
Google+ Local on mobile:
"Each place you see in Google+ Local will now be scored using Zagat’s 30-point scale, which tells you all about the various aspects of a place so you can make the best decisions," says Shah. "For example, a restaurant that has great food but not great decor might be 4 stars, but with Zagat you’d see a 26 in Food and an 8 in Decor, and know that it might not be the best place for date night."
Users can share their opinions and photos of places, of course, which will help feed the personalization of your friends' results.
Here are a few videos about Google+ Local:
Business owners will be able to continue managing their local listings the same way, using Google Places for Business. Businesses can still verify their basic listing data, make updates, and respond to reviews. If you use AdWords Express, Google says your ads will operate as normal, and will automatically redirect customers to the destination you selected, or your current listing.
Businesses will have to get used to a new layout and design for their listings.
"All your basic business information is still available," notes Jen Fitzpatrick, VP Engineering. "And by streamlining the layout and putting more focus on photos and reviews, we hope to help you highlight what makes your business truly unique."
"With these updates, we’re connecting the millions of people on Google+ to local businesses around the world," adds Fitzpatrick. "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."
Google posted the following to its Google+ Your Business Page:
Manage a Google Places page? That listing just got a simpler, cleaner look with the introduction of Google+ Local, a new way to discover businesses across Google.
With Google+ Local, customers can now easily recommend your business to their friends, or tell the world about it with a review. We’ve added +Zagat reviews and updated our scoring system to their 30-point scale, allowing customers to better share what makes your business unique. Google+ Local is integrated into Search, Maps, mobile and as a new tab in Google+ (just look for “Local” along the left to get started). We are rolling out today, so if you don’t see it now, you’ll see it soon.
Have feedback to share? Use the “Send feedback” link under the Google+ gear icon
Google says this is just a first step, that we'll see more updates in the upcoming months, and that it will soon make it easier to manage listings on Google and take full advantage of the social features of Google+ pages, such as Hangouts, and sharing photos/videos/posts.
Google has already given a handful of businesses access to such functionality. Check out The Meatball Shop for an example.