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Businesses Should Know About These New Local Features from Google

Google: 1 out of 5 Searches Related to Location

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Facebook made some of the biggest news of the week with the anouncements from its developer conference, as far as online business goes, but Google had some significant news about local search that may have taken a backseat, but should not be ignored.

The Google Local Business Center is now called Google Places, as the company aims to rebrand the product around the Place Pages it introduced last fall. Place Pages are the pages for business listings that are found in Google local searches. They contain relevant information about a business from various places on the web, such as reviews and images, as well as other info the business puts up after claiming their listing.

Is Google’s rebranded local business center a step in the right direction? Tell us what you think.

Google Places, the company says, is "just the beginning of what’s to come from our efforts to make Google more local."

New features that come along with the name change include:

1. Service areas - Businesses who travel can show the geographic areas that they cover. Those without a storefront can make their address private.

Google Tag advertising - new feature for Google Places2. Advertising with Tags – For 25 bucks a month, businesses (in certain cities) can use Tags to highlight their listings on Google.com and Google Maps. These are yellow markers that let you promote important aspects of your business. They can be used for thins like coupons, photos, and other select features.  They don’t affect the rank of search results, but they give customers more information and may prove beneficial. You can expect Google to increase the number of cities where this option is available.

3. Business photo shoots – Businesses (again, in certain cities) can request a free photo shoot from Google to have the interior of their business photographed and added to their Place Page. We’ve seen Google do this in the past. Now we know what they’re doing (learn more here). You can upload your own photos as well.

WebProNews QR code - Google Offers these to businesses in Google Places4. Customized QR Codes
– Google is providing customized QR codes from the Google Places Dashboard. The code will take customers to your place page, and can be used on business cards and other marketing materials. Customers can scan them with their smartphones.

5. More Favorite Places - Remember Google’s "Favorite Places" program in which the company sent brick and mortars window decals with QR codes? They’re sending them out to 50,000 more businesses in the U.S.

Google also gives businesses using Google Places info they haven’t been able to see in the past, like who’s searching for them, how they’re finding them, and where they’re coming from. This is through the dashboard, as explained in the following clip:

"One out of five searches on Google are related to location, and we want to make sure that businesses are able to be found and put their best foot forward," says Google Maps, Earth, and Local VP John Hanke.

The standard rules still apply to Google Places. Every listing must have a mailing address and there can’t be more than one listing per physical location. Even doctors with multiple practices and services that cover multiple towns shouldn’t have two listings. Google recommends in these cases that businesses use the description or categories to explain the different services offered. Google’s quality guidelines can be found here, and may be helpful to businesses with questions about their listings.

Back when Google first launched Place Pages, we asked if Google would eliminate the need for small business websites(at least brick and mortars). As Google improves this and Facebook continues to provide more opportunities for businesses, I’ll pose the question once again. To be clear, I’m not ready to give up on the website yet, but with the tools that are becoming available to businesses, do you think it is imperative to have a website these days? Share your thoughts.

Businesses Should Know About These New Local Features from Google
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  • http://www.sitebyjames.com James

    I don’t guys… what kind of a question is that?

    “do you think it is imperative to have a website these days?”

    Why not sell webpronews.com?

    I’m not going to say that all business needs a website, some of them most certainly do… the question becomes whether or not the investment matches the return…

    I’m not seeing the return from Google Local in the way I would have expected. I’m still impressed with Yellow Pages in comparison in some cases. Returns on facebook are all over the place… Still waiting to see someone succeed with twitter… It takes the right type I imagine… Search engines keep on trucking…

    QR codes… they contain 4,000 or so characters at most do they not? If that is going to replace some websites… particularly ones with an offering which does not exceed 4,000 characters and only serves rich media types and younger video game addicts (who are active in the neighborhood)… so be it…

    Of course my remarks are sarcastic… but you never know for sure…

  • http://www.sitebyjames.com James

    Hey and lets not forget… Paying Google for a premium spot on Google Maps means about 10 people are going to cash in… if that at all…

    The rest… well… they are going to have to start looking elsewhere…

    I will be on the lookout for QR codes though…

    I would think any serious business would hire a serious photographer… however, the whole signing over your interior space to those who will place a value on it is debatable… some will definitely go for it.

    Is any of this making sense to small business owners? I am sure the medium sized ones are up for it.

  • http://www.sitebyjames.com James

    And one more comment… I am extremely interested in the coupon aspect… this will be only negative remark really… I’m one of those guys who actually uses coupons. In fact, I’m one of those guys who is so poor, he always shops coupons. Hell I even went tanning once with coupons… I was the only one who used it in 3 years of that companies existence.

    I am not sure what to think of all this really. Is Goog mania going to make it through the summer or not.

    I think that a better question instead of asking if someone needs a website. Jmo…

    • http://www.sitebyjames.com James

      Of course… I could be wrong… you never know… Thank you for the product release. Your PR work is phenomenal…

  • http://www.controldatainc.com Agency collection

    We ran into problems with paying google for spots because the cost was more than the return. The mid sized and larger companies spending has pushed the smaller merchants out.

    • http://www.wildkentuckynights.com Wild Kentucky Nights

      I have to agree. I own a small business here in Lexington Ky which is a small city for the most part. I have bought into ads and noticed that all the large dating sites among other type business’ took over every keyword I would use for my local business. Huge companies are running out the smaller ones because they advertise everywhere with the money they can surely afford making it difficult for small local merchants to advertise business ads on google.

      • http://theleadersfactory.com Felipe Huicochea

        then, you and other small business should be The Whole Foods… go organic!

        When it comes to competition, small business will never be able to out spend big companies. But with ingenuity and flexibility you can compete and win. Keep in mind that people go to the internet looking for answers, not ads.

  • http://www.computerrepair-sanfrancisco.com Guest

    I think Google will take over the World one day.

  • deelirium

    That’s nice. But how about they fix the system so I can actually claim my multiple business locations and delete the gazillion inaccurate duplicate listings. I’ve been trying for almost 2 years and still haven’t been able to claim them all, no matter how many postcards I request and never receive.

    Google needs desperately to invest in a customer service center. I don’t even care if I talk to someone in India, at least I’m talking to *someone.*

  • http://www.seozirve.com Adwords

    Yes but unfortunatally many of nations off. like turkey.

  • http://www.worldbusinesstrade.org Bob Cummins

    It’s hard to think about what might happen to google’s domination in the future. I hear the big G wants to sell electricity to homes?

  • http://www.gteksoft.com Guest

    This is another step forward in google advertising and has lot of user interface and flexibility to find our local searches.

  • http://www.v-pills.net v-pills

    I’m not seeing the return from Google Local in the way I would have expected. I’m still impressed with Yellow Pages in comparison in some cases. Returns on facebook are all over the place… Still waiting to see someone succeed with twitter… It takes the right type I imagine… Search engines keep on trucking…

  • http://www.websitemarketing-tips.com/ Rob Brideson

    Yes I do think it is imperative for small businesses to have a website. Not only does it allow them to compete with the larger companies but it also allows for the recognition of branding, unique products and services.

    Not all businesses will use all of these tools provided by Google and other vendors but they are useful tools non the less.

    Google is generic in form and is all about maintaining the Google brand as well as its own services and not individual company brands, products and services. A website would provide this for those that need it and crave it. Let’s face it, the object of the game is to stick out like the proverbial sore thumb and be recognised. Multiple exposure is key to any successful marketing campaign.

    Google Places is a good place to start for local recognition and any enhancements to that service would be and should be welcomed by small businesses with open arms if it directs potential customers to their website and a full description of their products and services.

    Search, Google Places, Directories and social media are directions to a company brand (website) and is an imperative to sell your business and its products online.

  • http://www.dankerizer.com Hadie Danker

    very wonderfull Information. This is very nice tips for me and another blogger………. thank’s

  • http://www.avwebnet.com Robert Brady

    I just added the QR code to my friend’s website, so people could scan the image on the home page with their smart phone, and get map directions way quicker than trying to text in a location using their navigation map app. When applied like this, the QR code is a no-brainer. See it in action at www baddassridez com.

  • http://www.burtonseo.co.uk Burton SEO

    it always amuses me when you see statements such as ’1 in 5 are’ as if its a good stat and we all should be taking note. What this really means is the 4 out of 5 searches are NOT local searches. 80% of searches do not relate to local searches in the slightest..

  • http://www.worldtravelingartist.com Alexander

    If 1/5 of all searches later go to ‘google places’ tab, it’s going to pay back for the rest of us running the sites that are NOT location related on default search page. At least, I’d like to see that happen.

    And when google launches an new app. it means they’ve done a good research first @James. At least that’s what I believe.

    And why would this be a bad thing?

    I see it before me, next logical step for google places will be: tagging interior with products (just like we tag people on our facebook pics), which means… you click on a camera you want to buy, and if veryfied customer, it’s delivered at your doorstep the next day… and all that with a single click or 3 clicks at most.

    For comparesment, just think of Altavista and Yahoo before Google came.. whatever keywords we’d use to seek, we’d find nothing but porn. :-/

  • http://www.simple-elegant-websites.com Oiseaux

    I live in France and although supermarkets are in abundance the small local shops are also thriving. The reasons are the same as for any industry, big means impersonal and small means attention to detail and personal interaction. Having read some peoples experiences with Facebook and knowing myself how difficult it is to get a response from Google I think there will always be a need for small business websites made by small design companies.

  • Daz

    Yes A Have Lot To Say To Google And My Domain Name ? What The F~~ck – But Yes Is O.K Will Seek Advice From Ican Or What Ever Thay Are Called As Google Is U.S Business Comman Law Proval As Far As Starting A Online Business

    Now As You Might Have Gaatherd Am Not Happy – I Bought Domain A “Com” Now Google Have Ditched My Site ! In Favour Of My Site Name But Net Advertiesing Same Services As Me

    You No What You Are Doing Google And You No What Site ” If ” You Want To Buy Com Buy It Dont Try And Nick It

    Any Action A Take Will Be Done In States – I Have Hard Copys Of Sites Whosis And No Date For Net Well To Late Google A Have Hard Copys Dated

    See When You Own Com – You Can Lock Down All The Others

  • http://www.coast2coastnz.com Donna Hamilton

    How about fixing the bugs with Google Maps first eh??
    All those hundreds (if not thousands) of messed-up Google Maps listings, with people [including me!!] screaming out for some kind of answer as to what the **** has happened with their listing.
    Cannot get our “Auckland Tour” on Google Maps despite we ARE an Auckland Tour???
    Infact, have been Tripadvisor’s No1 “Auckland Tour” -unsurpassed- since May ’08…(with 56 reviews)…and we all know how Google Maps ‘links’ with Tripadvisor reviews.
    Our Maps listing got spammed and then deleted, so maybe Google Maps don’t like us!
    …NOT our fault, so how’s about fixing it….or even replying to my ?’s
    How do you get back on for your targeted keywords?

  • http://www.nyshedguy.com/ Douglas Roy Mc Clurg

    Just when I thought the web was great!! , It got better

  • http://www.cargenie.com.au/ Sell Your Car

    Once again it all comes down to the people who have got money.
    Someone could have a badly designed website that lacks content, but if they have the money it could be seen more than any other website.

  • http://www.bestpropertydeals.co.in Raj Sharma

    hi all,

    As I am very new to all these and whatever I have been reading here and there, I think google places is actually a good place to promote yourself, I also heard from someone saying that you can add 100 listing of yourself with different/targeted keywords…….as my business has tons of compitition and most of them spending money on TV commercials, Newspaper ads, CPC, CPM…..for me till now google has been helpful

  • http://www.ebizroi.com Rick Noel

    Though I am biased as my business develops and promotes websites for SMBs, for the cost of a print ad, you can have a simple website developed and hosted for a year. Many self-serve options exist for the do it your self folk. A website is the place to provide (and capture) contact info, provide hours of operations, directions, updated information, and most importantly, something that you have some control over, including analytics and optimizations.

    While Google Places, Facebook profiles/pages, Squido Lenses, Company Pages on LinkedIn, YouTube channels and others can help enhance your Internet marketing and message distribution, nothing should replace a business website as the nucleus of Internet marketing. You want to be in control of the sales or lead capture process at the end of the funnel.

  • http://www.rankingpro.webs.com Demetrious

    Before you read this, I have to warn you that it will make some sensitive people upset

  • http://www.BishopMarketResources.com Celeste Bishop

    I like the direction that Google is taking as far as understanding the tremendous value inherent in local search activity. Yet Google, to date, has been abysmal in support for any level of problem associated with these listings – even when they occur at their end (which in our experience is all too often). These lapses in support can be devastating to businesses that desperately try to correct issues that are frequently not of their own making only to find no one at Google who cares to support them. Google refers you to their forums which are filled with frustrated business owners but little insight into real tactical solutions to correct problems.

    Google needs to step up to the plate here — if the local sector is as valuable as they say it is, put some money into support. Right now, their support is barely on the grid – they have a loooooong way to go!

    • Sonia

      I agree with you, we are in the same position as all of those frustrated business owners. We do all the work and some competitor uses our business name to lure our customers away. There is nothing we can do about it, all avenues for correction are impossible for one reason or another. I’m very unhappy that I can’t speak to an actual Google employee. One replied to my help question in the forum but the answer he gave me was incorrect, there was no option for me to change verification to a phone number (instead of a postcard which was going to go straight to the competitor). Any ideas??

  • http://www.easytourchina.com china tours

    Another good way for google to earn more money, and the local businessese are happy to pay for it. Smart google guys!

  • Sonia

    I’m not happy with Google at the moment. While all of these features are very attractive, they are not regulated well enough. Another business is using our exact business name in Google maps, with their address and contact details. Reporting it makes no difference whatsoever. Claiming the business and changing the details is pointless because it will only change the details once verification occurs (postcard sent to the address on the listing, which is the competitor).

    There needs to be a firmer way of confirming a business owner, ie. details must match Yellow Pages ads or something that business owners pay a lot of money for.

    I’m very angry about this, it has really turned me off Google, despite their very clever ideas and efforts.

  • http://www.optimizedlocalsearch.com Paul Dumas

    In light of Google and Facebook’s continued movement toward “local”, your question of whether a local business still needs a website is certainly valid. As a provider of local search optimization to local businesses, this is what I see happening:

    Currently, the need for a website is diminishing for businesses who embrace third-party local search resources. However, as every business catches up with this trend and the playing field levels once again it will become apparent that there are severe limitations to what a business can do to further optimize their business presence without a website or blog.

    These things are cyclic. Once everyone is doing the next new thing, we’ll once again be looking for ways of differentiating ourselves. Websites and / or blogs will remain a constant in terms of feeding the content beast.

  • Guest

    I’ve just used http://googleplacesadvertising.co.uk/ to get my business on the first page of Google Maps. We are now there 1 month later. And it is brining me in new business. Great Service and reasonable price…

  • http://www.thangamayil.in/ Thangamayil

    Thangamayil Jewellery has concern for the people, customers, community, market and environment. Thangamayil Jwellery design and manufacture quality jewels in the most cost-efficient manner and distribute them through our chain of jewellery shops all over Tamil Nadu.

  • http://www.apexcoir.com/ Apex Coir

    Leading exporter of coir fibre, coir mats, coco peat, coco pith, pvc tufted coir mats, coco peat, coir brush mats, stenciled coir mat, inlaid coir mat, coir rubber brush mats, coir rubber mats, coir printed mats, coir spiral mats.

  • http://www.21flats.com/ 21flats

    Hi all

    Google places is actually a good place to promote yourself, I have already registered my website with it. Thanks Chris That was a great post!