Goodbye Google Places, Hello Google Plus Local
Google Plus was launched in 2011 and the goal was for it to become the largest social networking site, threatening Facebook and Twitter and both of their existence. Google wants to own everything, allowing Google users to have the best internet experience, finding everything they need on their search engine, and never having to go elsewhere to look for it. Search, surf, socialize – All under one roof. Unfortunately, Google couldn’t keep up with the pace needed for the 100 million users that joined Google Plus when they opened to the masses and the social network sort of just…fizzled. Until now?
As of last Wednesday, Google Places has been erased and in its place is Google Plus Local. This means drastic change for businesses and Google users alike. The largest search engine has the power of integrating search with social if they take proper steps and don’t bite off more than they can chew. Facebook has over 900 million users and it will take a while for Google Plus Local to get to that level. The Google Plus Local website promotes the new endeavor as a means to “discover great places through reviews and photos from people in (their network).” Users can share everything, from where they got their awesome new haircut, to the best place to take your children on a Saturday afternoon, to what local dentist they recommend for the best cleaning at the best price. This means great things for local businesses because word of mouth has moved from the streets to the internet so Google users can find whatever they’re looking for through recommendations of others right from their computer!
Google also purchased Zagat just last year in 2011 and Google Plus Local will combine with Zagat to give users a more complete and detailed restaurant platform in which to review, rate, and choose restaurants to dine in and allow them to share their experiences with their social networks.
Imagine when you wake up in the morning, being able to turn on your computer, sign in to Google to check your mail, socialize with friends and family and even start a “Hangout” (video chat via Google Plus that allows you to have on-screen face-to-face conversations with multiple people at once, free of charge) while checking out where your friends recommend to grab the best breakfast, and surf the web all in one. Less tabs to open on your computer, less applications to use on your smart phone. Ahhh…this could be a beautiful thing…