Watch out Yelp, you’ll be getting some competition from Google this year! As part of the popular social-local-mobile trend this year, Google will be integrating its Places with Google+ under a new Google+ Local tab in the next couple of days.
Now when you click on locations on a Google Map or search results page, you will be redirected to the locations’ Google+ page instead of their Google Places page. The content of the new Google+ page is very similar to what was on the Google Places page (address, hours, photos, and reviews), but with more social features such as videos, and the ability to +1 a page or share it via Google+.
All Google+ pages have a more sophisticated rating and review system, thanks to Google’s acquisition of lifestyle review site Zagat last fall. The ratings are based on a 0 to 30 “poor to perfect” rating scale that rates places in three categories: food, décor and service. Zagat rates shopping, nightlife, hotels, resorts, spas, golf courses as well as restaurants all over the world. Google also has integration with Open Table, so you can make a reservation straight from a restaurant’s Google+ page. Google eventually plans to have pages for all locations, including parks, museums and monuments.
Users who are signed in to Google+ will be able to see where their friends like to dine, or receive recommendations based on their tastes. You can also share and upload your own photos of each place, as well as leave your own reviews. Google will be able take advantage of Zagat’s review and rating mobile platform.
The new rating system is just part of the new redesign of Google+ pages that emphasizes photos and reviews, putting Google in direct competition of social networks like Yelp and Facebook. In May 2011, Google released its daily deals product Google Offers. Along with Zagat’s 30% restaurants program, this move towards social-local-mobile may be part of the tech giant’s strategy to get into the deals business against sites like Groupon and Living Social.
With the Knowledge Graph, Google appeared to be moving back towards its own search engine rather than social media. The additional of Google+ Local seems to be another stab at reviving Google+ by creating a local network of reviews on popular venues. Will it work? Is Google+ Local simply another keg in the mechanism leading up to Project Glass?