Google announced today that they have launched a new Google+ feature called Google+ Local. Google+ local is the result of Google places (commonly associated with Google maps) being given the Google+ makeover, something many people have been anticipating since Google+ was launched.
From the new “Local” tab on the left-hand side of Google+, you can search for specific places or browse for ones that fit your mood. If you click on a restaurant, or a museum (or whatever), you’ll be taken to a local Google+ page that includes photos, reviews from people you know, and other useful information like address and opening hours.
Google+ Local is also integrated across other products you already use every day. If you’re looking for a place on Search or Maps, you get the same great local information there too. You can also take it on the go with Google Maps for mobile on your Android device, and soon on iOS devices.
Your friends know what you like, and they probably like the same things you do. That’s why the opinions of people in your circles are front and center. If you search for [tacos] on Google+ Local, your results might include a friend’s rave review of the Baja-style taco stand in your neighborhood. And if you’re searching on Google or Google Maps for a great place to buy a gift for that same friend, your results might include a review from her about a boutique she shops at all the time.
The big question many are asking is exactly how much this could influence a business online visibility. Reviews are widely considered to be a ranking factor for Google Places for some time and your relationships in Google+ have been used to personalise your search results while logged into Google. Another update many people may have missed changed how Google handled broader search queries, refining them using your location (picked up by your IP address).
The image below is an example of how Google can give you local search results based your location:
This latest development from Google should at least highlight for many bricks and mortar businesses why it is so important not to ignore Google+. Google+ may not be the facebook killing social media platform but, its potential to influence how and where our businesses appear online is huge.