Yesterday Google announced the first steps towards a merger between Google Places (Maps listings), and Google+. When Google launched Google+, many people (incorrectly) assumed it was a stand-alone competitor to Facebook. Instead, Google+ is a radical shift for how Google does everything. One year ago, Larry Page (Google CEO) reorganized Google and tied all employee bonuses to Google’s success in social. Consequently, Google+ is fast becoming the hub for all of Google products. They recently integrated Blogger, and now we’re seeing the changes in Google Places.
This is great news for Google Maps and local businesses
By tying Google Places (specifically Maps) into Google+, we should immediately see higher quality in reviews. Not only is Zagat joining in the review mix, but now reviews are tied to Google+ profiles, which means real names and real people will be attached to reviews. Lots of businesses have been hit by competitors leaving bad reviews (yours truly included), and this change will make such mean-spirited reviews more difficult. In addition to more transparency, Google is adding more granularity to how people rate businesses and each other’s reviews.
As Google mentioned in their blog post on the subject, this is only the first step of merging Google Places and Google+. The logical next step is to integrate Google+ business pages with Google+ Local pages. Given Google’s breakneck pace of development, we think it will probably happen before the end of the year.
We’re excited about the changes. Better Google Maps is a win for everybody, especially the people that have taken the time to build their Maps profile. If you’re looking for help with Google Maps check out Blend, our local marketing package.