In our December 2011 Newsletter I outlined a number of changes we expected to see in the coming year.  One of the highly anticipated changes was the integration of Google Places and Google+.  Over the last couple of weeks posts from local search experts like David Mihm and Matt McGee alluded to the fact that the change was coming and finally this morning that change came.

Introducing Google+ Local

Google+ Local is the marriage of Google+ and Google Places as a means of providing relevant local information about local businesses across Google’s properties.  The integration introduces a new “Local” tab on the left hand menu of Google+ and is reportedly converting roughly 80 million Google Place pages into 80 million Google+ Local pages.  The new product also introduces Zagat reviews to local listings, another highly anticipated feature born of the Google/Zagat acquisition made nearly a year ago.

How This Impacts Your Medical Practice

If you’re not yet on Google+ it’s time to make the jump.  If you’re not sure how to  setup your Google+ Page we have put together a very in depth guide on setting up Google+ for your medical practice.  Though it’s not outlined on the Google Blog, or the Google Places blog, Google gives some more in depth insight about their plans to deeper integrate Google+ and Google Places on their Google and Your Business Blog.  In the post Google explains that this is just the first of many changes coming in regards to Google+ Local.  Currently, if your practice is using Google+ to post content or host hangouts these elements will still be separate from your Google+ Local listing.  However, Google partnered with thirteen businesses to fully upgrade their listings early as part of the Google+ Local rollout and you can see an example below that shows both the Places elements as well as the Google+ elements fully integrated.  On the page you’ll notice that in addition to local information the posts section and the “Follow” option also appears.  Additionally they hint that while Place Page information will still be managed via the Local Business Center, that may be changing soon to allow you to update your business information in a centralized location.  My bet is on Google+.

Museum of Making Music's Google+ Local Page

Google has been nothing short of aggressive with its integration of Google+.  You might recall the introduction of Google Search Plus Your World back in January, which integrated Google+ into your search results.  Moving forward more products and services will be integrated with Google+ meaning that if you aren’t engaging on Google+ or at least staking your claim, you’re going to be missing out on the direction Google is headed.

For a roundup of detailed posts from around the web on the new Google+ Local integration check out the list below: