Google Search Now Offering 360-Degree Store Views

 
 
By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2011-11-02
 
 
 

Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is sprucing up its search engine by cramming more information from Google Places businesses into its search results pages.

When users search Google.com for local businesses, they typically see a Google Map in the right-hand rail to show them directions to the eatery, hardware store or whatever local business they're searching for more information about online.

Now users may see enhanced Google Map results that include a 360-degree view of the outside and inside of restaurants, hotels, local businesses, landmarks, museums and other locations.

For instance, Google will show the interior of a restaurant, such as Redbones Barbecue in Boston, along with an "at-a-glance" summary of the type of cuisine, links to the Redbones menu, fare prices, transit accessibility and business hours.

Users can not only get a feel for the fare, but an idea of whether the eatery suits their d??«cor tastes for flair or subtlety. The goal is to provide searchers more relevant context to the locations they are searching for and ideally helping their decision making process.

Google said this layout will also appear for the New England Aquarium or Fenway Park, among other places on Google.com.

Search Engine Land noted that this seems to only work for individual businesses, unless a user specifies a chain store location, such as "Cheesecake Factory" versus "Cheesecake Factory, ventura blvd."

Eventually, the 360-degree search will be available for results in more than 40 languages worldwide.

The tighter integration of Google Places, the company's local business search service, with Google.com, has been a long time coming. This will be a big boon to existing Google searchers who continue to enjoy more personalized search services from the company. It will also mean bad news for local search providers trolling for users.

If Google, which has a 65 percent search share in the United States and more worldwide, brings its Places functionality completely into the right-hand rail of Google.com, it could suck users away from Yelp, CitySearch, TripAdvisor and others.

That could also lend more firepower to those companies' claims that Google is not behaving nicely to others in the market, something that could bite Google in the ongoing antitrust investigations.

Rocket Fuel