co Google Places, Google+ Local, And You |

If you’ve been online for very long, then you know one thing: Things change. A lot.

Google, in particular, is well known for changing things. They add new services and take them away. And word has it that they go through hundreds of search algorithm changes every month. That’s a lot of change.

Well, one of the things that has changed about Google in the last year is a strong emphasis on a social media service called Google+. Or Google Plus. In the first month of its existence Google+ became the fastest growing social media website ever. But many of the people who signed up for an account didn’t go back. Not many people really wanted to leave Facebook and most people who didn’t own a website or weren’t into following the latest tech advances didn’t see the value. All of that is changing too.

How Google Places Became Google Local

Recently, Google migrated its Google Places service into Google+ and started calling it Google Local instead. That makes sense, doesn’t it?

Well, the Google Local part does. After all, the focus is on listing local businesses and providing information about them for people who are searching locally for businesses to patronize. So Google Local is a good name. But what’s up with moving it into Google+?

The short answer is, Google wants you to use Google+. Read what Google has to say about Google Places and Google Local.

As a business owner, you can still use Google Places to manage your business. As a user, you can now rate, review and upload photos through our new local search experience, Google+ Local.

If you have to sign up for a Google+ account in order to reap the benefits of having a Google Local listing, then Google believes you will sign up for a Google+ account. But what are the benefits of that? Actually, there are some.

Why You Should Use Google+

As a business owner, you can improve your search engine rankings by posting regularly to Google+. But it’s not as simple as Google+ = SEO. Rather, what you’ll notice if you use the service often is that your Google profile will rise to the top of the search engine rankings, so it’s a great reputation management tool. It’s also Google’s way of controlling web spam, but that’s another story.

By building relationships with people around sets of interests through Google+ you can influence how people view your business overall, and that includes on the local scene. What you should realize is that people who are in your Google+ social circles are more likely to see your content if it matches a search query they enter into Google and they haven’t turned their personalization features off. This gives you a competitive search advantage over your local competition if they are not using Google+.

Google wants the whole world to use Google+. That’s why they are integrating all their services into one platform. That platform is Google+. In the future, if you want to interact with Google, you’ll have to do it through Google+. Like it or not, that’s where Google is headed.

So what should you do? Sign up for a Google+ account, manage your local business listing through Google Places, and play around with Google Local.