Google is making its local search offering more transparent for local businesses by changing the name of its Local Business Center to Google Places and offering new tools to help connect consumers with local shops. Google Places is also getting several new features for local businesses. For $25 per month, businesses in some cities can buy Tags to make their listings stand out on Google.com and Google Maps. Businesses in some cities can also now request a free photo shoot of their interiors, which Google will offer on Place Pages.
Google April 20 sought to make its local search offering more transparent
for local businesses by renaming its Local
and offering new tools to help connect consumers with nearby shops.
Google's Place Pages surface
more than 50 million places around
the world when users search for destinations on Google Maps.
Users searching for information about restaurants, hotels, museums, schools
and parks can click on a location on a Google Map and be whisked to the Place
Page to see details, pictures and reviews of that location.
More than 4 million local businesses stepped up to grab their Place Pages
through Google's Local Business
Center. Businesses provide information
such as their hours of operation, photos, videos, coupons and product
Users can find these businesses on Google Maps from their desktops and from
Google Maps for Mobile on
smartphones such as Apple's iPhone or Google's Nexus One or the Motorola Droid.
John Hanke, vice president for Google Maps, Earth and Local Places, said
Google Places will continue to offer these tools and more.
"Millions of people use Google every day to find places in the real world,
and we want to better connect Place Pages-the way that businesses are being
found today-with the tool that enables business owners to manage their presence
on Google," Hanke said.
Renaming Local Business Center Google Places cuts through any confusion
local businesses may have had about the relationship between Place Pages and
Google Places is also getting several new features for local businesses. For
$25 per month, businesses in some cities can procure Tags to make their
listings stand out on Google.com and Google Maps.
The company is offering Tags to businesses in Austin,
and Washington in addition to the
existing availability in Houston and San Jose, Calif.
Google will soon add Tags in Chicago,
San Diego, Seattle,
San Francisco, and Boulder,
Businesses in some cities can also now request a free photo shoot of their
interiors, which Google will offer along with exterior photos on Place Pages.
businesses can download a unique, custom QR code from their Places dashboard. These
codes can be placed on business cards or other marketing materials. Customers
can scan them with an iPhone or Android smartphone to view the mobile version
of the Place Page for that business.
Along those lines, Google said it is sending another 50,000 window decals
with QR codes as part of its Favorite Places program.
Again, these decals can be scanned with
a smartphone to view the mobile Place Page for the business to learn more about
their great offerings.
What will be interesting to see is whether Google begins to rack up more
local business customers for Google Places after failing to acquire local search rival Yelp
late in 2009.
At the least, it should help Google better serve the 20 percent of
location-based searches it sees.