Google has always been a champion of making information easy to find. Naturally, this led Google to create a service that allowed people to businesses in their area to eat, do their taxes, or repair their vehicles. Google Places was a popular service, but it has been replaced by a region within Google+ called “Local.” Google+ Local does the same thing Google Places did, but it also allows users to review local businesses, sharing with friends who to do business with and who to avoid like the plague.
As Google+ rises in popularity, more people and going to be using its various services to find what they are looking for. Since Google is already a trusted name by almost everyone that uses the Internet, pages like Local are going to pick up in usage a lot more quickly than equivalent services offered up by other social networking sites.
As Facebook has demonstrated, a positive word or share from a friend means more to a user than the average advertisement, and that this word of mouth effect, much like in real life, can have a more positive effect quicker than throwing banner ads in people’s faces.
Google+ Local can take this several steps further. Generally speaking, people with Google+ use other products within the Google ecosystem as well. Their search engine alone accounts for over 80% of user generated searches on the Internet globally, and the Blogger and YouTube websites are the most popular of their kind on the web. These services all allow users to log in using a single Google Account, which in turn gives Google a tremendous amount of information regarding that individual’s tastes and preferences.
For years, Google has been perfecting the art of using all of these sources of information for targeted advertising, and these same skills will come to bear in Google+ Local. Users will see places of business more to their tastes, meaning that if they had never heard of Bob’s Private Steakhouse and they see it listed high on the list while performing a search for restaurants in Google+ Local, they are likely to give it a try. This is even more true if a friend of theirs had already been there and left a glowing review.
Google+ Local can mean a lot for a business, and Google does not charge a single penny for having your business listed in their database. It is not a question of why you should be in there. Why would you not be?