Over the past day and a half, there’s been lots of talk about Google’s new Google+ Local, effectively fusing its flagship social and local products (and ditching what was Google Places). Peter Krasilovsky has a good writeup earlier about how Google-owned Zagat is central to the launch.
I’ve also been getting lots of questions about what this means for mobile, given that it’s is a huge area for Google, and that local products inherently have mobile implications. All of that is true, but Google+ Local has less mobile ties than many people’s knee-jerk reaction would indicate.
Many of its upsides will certainly be seen in mobile, but I see it as more of a desktop play — at least for now. Its central highlight is an enhanced interface for local business pages (what used to be Place Pages), as well as SERP layouts. These will be more pronounced on the desktop.
And as Peter explored, the incorporated Zagat ratings (30 point scale) will be more useful than previous 5 point ratings. This is owing to a wider point range and incorporation of broader review criteria (i.e. food, service, etc.), which will create more granular ratings.
These same benefits will be present in mobile, although SERPS and visually-oriented business pages might not be as robust on a smaller screen. The Zagat incorporation however will shine in mobile, for its influence on the 40 percent of Google mobile searches that have local intent.
But one caveat on the subject of mobile is that the changes aren’t present yet in Google’s apps on iOS such as its Google+ app. Though they go into effect immediately on Android, Google has to wait for updates to be approved on iOS (notwithstanding browser based local searches).
More so than that, the long term implications are tempered by Apple’s high likelihood to launch its own default mapping app at WWDC, to replace Google Maps. Though there are considerable browser-based searches, much iPhone local search happens on that default home screen app.
The bottom line is that Google+ Local will have lots of interesting implications and improvements for mobile local search. That’s especially true on Android, which continues to reach into majority ranges of smartphone OS share (depending on what measurement firm you ask).
But it should be said that the impact of this announcement — at least within mobile — hinges at least a little on these uncertainties in the iOS. But a lot of that will become more certain after next month’s WWDC conference. And we’ll certainly tackle at our own MLM San Francisco.