Goodbye Google Places, Hello Google+ Local

Business owners got a treat this morning as Google rolled out yet another update to its local platform, this time, ditching Google Places and replacing it with Google+ Local. This move completely integrates Google’s local listings with the current Google+ social network.

Goodbye Google Places, Hello Google+ Local

The new Google+ Local Search

Coincidentally, and equally newsworthy, Portent just happens to be moving to our new office tomorrow, so we were lucky enough to give the new interface an in-depth examination that we’re sharing here with you.


Portent Move

Ian is in the box on the bottom

So what do you need to know, as a business owner? Let’s go over the top 5 things we’ve noticed with the new Google+ Local.

1. How do I get on Google+ Local?

You’re probably already on Google+ Local. And if you’re not, you will be soon. This was an automatic update so all Place pages are being moved to the new Google+ Local format as it rolls out. If you’ve claimed your page, all the contact information, pictures and reviews (sort of – we’ll get to that in a bit) are now seen in the new platform. If you’re not seeing it, then you probably just don’t have the update yet.

2. What about my old reviews?

Google will be moving the reviews from your Place page to your +Local page. However, since the update pairs each review with a public Google+ Profile, they will show up anonymously as “A Google User,” unless the reviewer goes through a brief verification process to publish them publicly.

Publish reviews on Google+
publish reviews

Publishing my Place reviews to +Local

3. What’s with the rating system?

If you’ve seen the update, you’ll notice that the 5 star system is gone. Replacing it is a new 30-point scoring system developed by Zagat. Each reviewer can rate a business from 0-3. Google then averages them, multiplies by 10 and gives the new score for the business. If you have enough reviews in different categories, you’ll get a score with multiple aspects. Otherwise, you’ll just get a single number.

Google+ Local new Review System

Google+ Local's new 30-point review system

4. What if I already set up a Google+ Business Page?

For the moment, Google+ Local and Google+ Business Pages are completely separate. So your Business Page and Local listing exist completely independent from one another with no sharing of information. For us, it meant we had to update our address twice; once for each Google page. I imagine that this will eventually change, but since Business Pages currently only allow for one address anyway, it could be a while before we see any changes with this, as many businesses have multiple locations. For now, though, you have two Google+ pages to manage. Yay.

5. Why the change?

As David Mihm describes it, this is primarily a user-oriented interface update. Basically it’s a new face that puts local businesses firmly in the Google+ social arena. The hope is that after everyone looks up businesses, rates them and gets directions, they’ll keep hanging out on Google+ and give it the attention it so desperately needs. This is why, again for now, the dashboard for business owners hasn’t changed. This is for the reviewers, not the business owners.

What have you noticed with the new Google+ Local page? And how is your “+” key holding up these days?

Portent Alum George is a former member and lead of Portent's SEO team. George went on to Moz as an expert on local SEO and is now in residence at

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  1. This works great for restaurants (maybe) but it’s not so hot for my business- accounting/bookkeeping- all my 5 star reviews just got turned into 3’s. Don’t know about you but a random 3 doesn’t sound nearly as good as 5 stars. How do the categories even fit for a non restaurant business? What does my decor have to do with my service- and is price really a good metric when choosing your accounting provider? The reason I liked having my reviews on a third party site was it gave it more credibility. The downside, obviously, is that stuff like this can happen and I have no control over it. Blah.

    1. For non-restaurant businesses it just gives a lump 30-point review based on a general 0-3 rating from individual reviewers. So if you used to have all 5-star reviews, you’d now just have an overall score of 30.

      1. i notice you mentioned the bit about old reviews “kind of” getting migrated over. for me, it didn’t go so well, as 14 or 15 glowing reviews and testimonials simply vanished and only one remained. also, now, any new ones that anyone puts up still do not appear in search results or on the page. only 1 is indicated no matter how many are posted. i guess this is a rather severe bug in Google’s new rollout, huh? what to you suggest?

        1. Beau, sorry to hear that; those reviews are hard to get! Unfortunately you’re not the first business I’ve seen that happen to. For now, all of us are just sort of waiting for Google to fix some of the glitches that are popping up.
          My best advice to you would be to just do a phone number search for your business in Google Maps to make sure there are no duplicates. That way, when the glitches are corrected, you can be sure that your reviews will at least show up in the listing you’re actively managing.

  2. For some reason it reverted to our address from three years ago. When I go to edit, it has the current address so I guess I just have to wait for this to get fixed.

  3. Our Google Places page is associated with a generic email address so that management can transfer to anyone in the marketing position of the company. In setting up our Google + page 6 months ago, a personal Google + account was required so I used my personal one. I now have a situation where Google sees both pages as having different ownership and so information is not transferring. Quite honestly, we don’t have any reviews associated with the Places page, so is anything lost by not being able to connect these two?

    1. Peggy, Google+ Local and Google+ Business Pages are still treated as completely separate sections. So, for the moment, you’ll still use the generic email you used to manage your Place page for the +Local page and your personal account for the Business Page.
      They’ve said that they will merge the two, but it is frustrating that we’re in this situation. Especially since Places specifically said you should use a shared email address for the account for exactly the reasons you stated!
      We’ll just have to keep updated and see what form the listings take when the two Google+ pages merge.
      Hope that helps!

    1. Natalie,
      Without seeing your page, it’s hard to say, but my guess would be that you just don’t have enough reviews to have a total score. This would sometimes happen with the Place pages; they wouldn’t give you a star-rating without enough trustworthy reviews to support it.

  4. Well its good because now they moved google places into google + and since then im trying to add a new company address .

  5. Very smart on Google’s part by forcing business owners on Google+. I think it’s a great strategy and am looking forward to the final product.

  6. Basically Google completely [email protected]#$%^d this up.
    It’s been months since Google announced this and it’s still not working.
    You can’t get a Local Listing
    Places have not been moved
    Your reviews have disappeared.

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