Back in December TechCrunch revealed that a deal between Google and Yelp was imminent…as they were in the “final stage of negotiations”. This sent the SEO industry into a whirlwind, especially local search marketers, thinking about the possibilities of what this might become. Personally, I think it would be a great marriage as they both can benefit from each other and provide more fine-tuned local search results to users. Imagine marrying Google’s local results with Yelp’s reviews & ratings. I can see this for both local search results, as well as PPC ads (I did notice some ads that contain Yelp’s star rating).
You’ll need to log in to your account, and send your location to Google by clicking a link, and accepting. Once you do that, here’s what you’ll see:
The second advancement is within their Local Business Center. We’ve all heard the buzz about Place Pages, and what the potential there is (Yelp killer), but Google has just added a real-time feature which can have a huge impact for small businesses who have claimed and verified their local listings. It’s a feature that acts much like Twitter, or Yelp’s “special announcement” feature if you’ve got a business account (which I highly recommend all local businesses do). You can now post a 160 character message directly to your Place page, which updates in real-time. Here’s an example of what I updated for Anvil.
The implications for small businesses could be monumental. Currently Google is not indexing the pages, so they don’t rank in the search results, but I expect that to change. Even if it doesn’t, if you’d done the hard work of optimizing your local listing, and are now ranking in the Lucky 7 on the first page of the Universal results, your Place page should see a good amount of visits. This would give your unique post/message real value, especially if you are providing special offers, promos, discounts, etc. I highly encourage you all to test this with some sort of offer and track the amount of “action” receive. It should be a unique offer so it’s easier to track, or include some sort of coupon code in the message.
Both of these features, Near Me Now and real-time posts to Place Pages, should have a big impact on local businesses. More and more folks are using mobile for search, and with the majority of mobile searches having local intent, local businesses can only benefit.