Google + Local: A mobile revolution.
We’ve had Facebook Places, Google Places, Google Buzz, Foursquare, and many others. But as of yet no one has been really able to fulfil the potential of a truly integrated local, social and mobile-based platform. Well, after ditching Buzz and Places, Google is having another stab with its new Google + Local service, which refines its local search, introducing new business listings features across its mobile search tool and mobile apps.
Google+ Local completely replaces Google Places and promises to be the most robust localised listings, social and mobile search platform yet released. One of the key tricks up Google’s sleeve this time around is business listing integration with Zagat – the reviews website that Google bought last summer. Zagat has been reviewing restaurant’s since 1979 and was charging users $5 per month for access to over 35,000 restaurant reviews. Following the acquisition Google will be giving away all of Zagat’s reviews for free within Google + Local.
Business that previously signed-up for Google Places will now have their profile’s converted to Google + pages. This will then allow other Google+ members to contribute reviews, scores and recommendations. But perhaps the killer blow from Google, and certainly the feature that will really set Google + Local out from the rest of the contenders, is integration with one of the most ubiquitous mobile apps around – Google Maps. All businesses with a Google + profile will be listed on the Google Maps mobile app. This means thousands of easily searched, visible, profiles, embedded into Maps and combined with restaurants reviews from a respected source. That’s a pretty powerful draw.
Google’s only problem is that its still struggling to get active users onto Google+. But the install base of the Google Maps app is massive, it’s already the number one app in the UK (and probably the world), as it’s pre-installed on nearly every Android smartphone and iPhone. This could well the second wind that Google + sorely needs.
In fact. this could be the beginning of the hyper-local mobile revolution that’s been on the cards ever since the iPhone first reared its head back in 2008. Despite the rise of smartphones, and despite previous efforts from Google and Facebook, there still isn’t a dominant and compelling business and social platform that takes advantage of the hyper-local features offered by mobile. So a lot is riding on Google’s latest attempt. Between Google+ and the Google Maps app, businesses could have a unified platform at their disposal to promote services at the mobile and local level. This would also open-up huge opportunities for businesses looking to advertise on mobile. If your business doesn’t have a mobile strategy in place, you need to start devising one pretty quickly.
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