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Google announced yesterday that Google Places pages are being replaced by Google+ Local pages. About 80 million Google Places pages have been converted into Google+ Local pages.
As with most changes Google makes, it will take a few weeks for this to settle down before we can really see the real impact. Here is a brief summary of what has changed:
For more information there is a great overview of the changes including images in this post by Greg Sterling http://searchengineland.com/google-places-is-over-company-makes-google-the-center-of-gravity-for-local-search-122770
Mike Blumenthal also has a good Q & A here http://blumenthals.com/blog/2012/05/31/google-local-qs-and-some-as/
An example of a converted Google Place page:
After researching the information that is available it would seem that the immediate impact will be very limited. As of this morning we found that many of our clients search results are still showing the old Google Places layout with a few showing the new Google+ layout.
It would thus appear that Google is rolling this out even though they announced it was being done all at the same time.
There does not seem to be any change in the displayed search results other than the fact that the Star ratings have been replaced by the Zagat rating. Previously you had to have at least 6 reviews to have a Star rating and it seems you have to have at least 10 reviews to get a Score rating.
If you have a Google+ Business page you will now have both a Google+ Business page and a Google+ Local page. Google has said they are looking at a way of combining them in the future but for now the pages need to be maintained independently.
The impact in the longer term may have some big implications! Most of these will evolve over time and as always, Google will probably change things up as we go. From our perspective here are some of the issues: