Google Places logoLooking back, it’s been a long time since I’ve added an update to the ongoing Social Networks for Ski Resort series, so with all the Google+ buzz going on, I decided to veer off and review Google Places.

If you don’t know what it is, Google Places is “local rating and review feature” and is also a way for businesses to have some control of how they appear in Google Maps, and has been around in an evolving form for some time. It got a social component added in towards the end of last year in the form of what was then called Hotpots which is now completely integrated into Places. Google Places is also undergoing some changes in terms of how content is aggregated to a businesses’ Places page. In a recent post of Google’s Lat Long Blog, it is explained that Google will now only include Google user reviews in the Places listings as well as making it easier for Google users to add their reviews.

Of course one of the most important reasons to ensure that your business has an updated and fully filled out Google Places profile is the fact that Google serves up the places data using geo-location tagging to huge numbers of mobile users, over 150 million as of last March, and growing incredibly fast when you consider this:

There are now over 500,000 Android devices activated every day, and it's growing at 4.4% w/w
Andy Rubin

So without the 4.4% w/w  increase that Mr Rubin notes, in the approximate 4 weeks since then, Google has added 14 million additional Android users. Android’s maps integration has only gotten tighter and tighter with each update.

This evolution and in some respects cleaning up of Google Places leads me to think, and also have some hope, that Google is looking to use existing Places pages as a way to bring brands into Google+. I don’t know that is indeed in the roadmap, but I believe it could solve a number of issues that I’m seeing on Facebook Pages – notably a lack of consistency and an incredible number of duplicate pages. Google+ though is just a part of why a ski resort needs to be vigilant with keeping their Google Places profile up to date. Have you updated your Google Places page recently and even more importantly, have you claimed it?!