A lot of people use Google Maps for more than just getting directions. They’re using it to find a local business’ contact information, read online business reviews, and rate their favorite (or least favorite) local spots. They’re using it to find the yummiest place to eat, the friendliest baristas in town, the coolest new club to go to, and the hippest hotel to check out.
To make all of this easier to do – to make every place in town easier to find – Google is launching the new Google Maps. It’s a tailored, more interactive map that enables users to discover more places, local businesses, and information that may be useful to them. New features include: improved navigation and directions (you can now compare routes and multiple transportation modes in order to figure out the best way to get to your destination); more photos (for Google Earth View and Street View); 3D photo tours generated with user-submitted images; biking directions (in beta), and the ability to adapt to user behavior in order to suggest new places that users might like.
The latest version of Google Maps also comes with a new five-star rating system for businesses, instead of the old 30-point scoring system that used to show up in Maps, Google Search, and Google+ Local.
“Users who opt-in to the new Google Maps will now rate businesses on a scale that ranges from one to five stars,” wrote Jade Wang in a Google and Your Business blog post. The system maintains the precision of the former 30-point scale while improving the readability and accessibility of the business listings.”
A business’ overall rating is calculated from both old and new online reviews, which means that ratings from the previous scale (“poor-fair,” “very good,” “excellent”) are also going to be converted to have numerical value, thus contributing to overall ratings based on the new five-star system. The ratings and reviews appear on the actual Maps page, and according to Wang, this new system is also going to be rolled out on Maps for Mobile, Google Search, and Google+ Local (the search giant’s own online reviews aggregator and recommendation service).
“Zagat reviews are still available throughout Google,” she added, “and you’ll continue to see Zagat throughout Google products with editorial reviews and curated lists awarded to notable places…. Your customers will be able to find up-to-date, accurate information on your business faster than ever. As a business owner, you’ll notice that past ratings have been mapped to the five-star system.”
(Related: “Google+ Local Tips and Tricks for Your Business”)
Are you managing a local business that’s listed on Google? Check out some more screenshots of what your online reviews will look like with the launch of the new Google Maps: