Google scraps Places for Google+ Local, part of their major local business services push

Google recently unveiled their new Google + Local section of their social network replacing Google Places.  Still containing local business information such as address, phone number, website, and reviews, Local will also bring newly acquired Zagat rating system in to the mix. This is Google’s big push to promote Google + which will help gain exposure for local businesses with the reviewers being able to share their recommendations with those in their Circles.  Google also suggests these businesses join the Google + network if they already haven’t to increase their awareness and marketability and ultimately earn more money for Google itself. 

This new venture is just one of the many components to the search engine giant’s local geared services roll out called Business Builder.  In combination with other recent acquisitions, Pushd, Talkbin, and AdWords Express, Google is hoping not only to pull in billions in revenue but also to move businesses further into the digital advertising arena.  The Wall Street Journal reports that “central to the effort is Google+, the company’s social network, which it hopes consumers will use to interact with local businesses that now have special Web pages on the network. Those Google+ pages will draw traffic from the company’s Web-search engine. When shoppers visit these businesses, Google wants them to use their Internet-connected phones like a digital wallet, earning loyalty points and making payments at stores that sign up for Google’s new services. In turn, Google is hoping stores and other businesses will use their new Google+ pages to communicate with customers, such as by showing them special offers. And it hopes to persuade them to sign up for other Google products.”

This focus on small business is a smart move for Google and will hope to prove as equally beneficial to the success of these businesses. Increasing word of mouth by customer reviews and recommendations to friends, family, and colleagues is an advantage money can’t buy. Businesses who were hesitant to commit to yet another social media site for marketing purposes now have another reason to sign up. Even with Google’s missteps, it looks as though Google + is here to stay.