Mention Google Places to a hospital web department and the reactions you get are generally not the warm and fuzzy kind. So when Google launched Google+ Business Pages last summer, we hoped this would bring a unified front for businesses. More editorial flexibility and the additional of social features to business listings seemed like a win-win for everyone. Now, with the announcement last week of Google+ Local we’re one step closer.
New Changes to Google Places Listings
In short, Google Places is gone as you’ve known it. The pages have a new look, and are much more aligned with the Google+ product. The rating system was overhauled, now following the Zagat 30-point scale. What hasn’t changed (at least yet) is the way you manage or verify your pages.
For now your Google+ business pages and new Google+ Local pages are still separate. For a business owner, the new changes are purely cosmetic to this point. But the merger is coming soon according to Google. In fact, they’ve updated a handful of businesses with the full integration for other businesses to preview.
Google is obviously trying really hard to push Google+ into its other products, which is really interesting. Despite the cool features of Google+ as a social network, it doesn’t seem to be catching on with the public. Maybe it’s never going to be a Facebook-type destination website, but rather a product that enriches the other Google products you use every day such as search and Android.
The takeaway from the changes? If you don’t currently have a Google+ page for your hospital or network, it’s probably time.