Mountain View, California -- Relentlessly striving to augment its services with social capabilities, Google on Wednesday introduced Google+ Local, a new social local search experience that will spread across Google+, Google Search and Google's mobile search. It has teamed up with Zagat to implement the new feature encouraging users to review local businesses and Google+ connections, and gives establishments a chance to make their local search presence more social.
Admittedly, Google+ Local is the company's latest social integration, and creates “one simple experience across Google,” Avni Shah, director of Google's product management wrote in a blog post.
On the other hand, Google+ Local now replaces the Google Places page and integrates the company's recently acquired rating company Zagat. Local allows for a quick scan and offering the crowd-sourced reviews of restaurants and other businesses to users of the Mountain View search giant's social network along with other features, such as Google Maps.
“One of the things that became quite obvious is that reviews are a cornerstone to any local strategy,” Google executive Marissa Mayer told the Los Angeles Times. “Social is local. When people are choosing something for a birthday dinner or an important occasion, they want a recommendation they can trust.”
Last July, Google enhanced its Places page to make it more effortless to access information and reviews. Now, any effort to reach Places leaves two options: visit Google+ Local or venture into Google Places for Business.
Today onwards, Google+ users will get free access to 35,000 Zagat scores and write-ups of local businesses around the world, available in more than 60 languages. All Google+ Local places are scored using Zagat's 30-point scale, and include advice from people already in your Google+ Circles.
“Your friends know what you like, and they probably like the same things you do,” Shah wrote. “That is why the opinions of people in your circles are front and center.”
Apart from this they will also be able to make their own recommendations and see evaluations from others in their Google+ circles. And because the reviews are integrated across Google's ecosystem, they will pop up not only in Google+ but also in Search, Maps and Mobile.
Reviews from users will feature ratings on a scale of zero to three. Also, the Local link is positioned on the left-hand sidebar, where users can browse, click, and visit the local Google+ page with more information and reviews from friends.
Users can add input and photos to any Google+ Local place.
Zagat Google+ Local -- Image Credit: (PCMag) -- Click to enlarge...
The company still holds something under-wraps and says that in the future, Google+ Local may feature other perks, such as a way to factor influential variables into reviews.
“Even though you are the same person, your tastes are really changeable based on the time of day and who you are with,” Mayer said. “Is there a way to pool those searches together? That is hard. The technology does not really exist.”
Nevertheless, the new feature seamlessly blends with Google's search and maps functions, as well as its mobile products and online with Google+. An Android app is available from the Google Play store, and an iOS version be released soon, Shah said.
These changes, executives claim, will hopefully help boost advertising dollars.
Zagat, which operates in more than 100 cities, previously charged $24.95 per year, or $4.95 per month, for access to its content, according to PaidContent. Now that the paywall is down, visitors to Zagat.com can register with Google+ and view all reviews for free.