There have been a plethora of changes happening over at Google’s Local Business Center, um, I mean Google Places. All of the changes have been positive, in my opinion, and will hopefully continue to get SMBs to claim their listing and use this great marketing tool that is Google Places. Let’s go ahead and jump right in and review all of the current changes.
Google Local Business Center was rebranded Google Places. This was done by Google to hopefully help SMBs understand the different verbiage. There apparently was confusion with the Local Business Center and the new Google Place pages. In order to reduce confusion Google decided to rebrand the LBC to make it consistent. The goal is to ensure more and more local businesses begin to claim their listings.
Fun Fact #1: Roughly 2 million US businesses have been claimed, which represents about 1 in 7.*
Fun Fact #2: On average, 20% (~ 2 billion) of all searches contain some sort of local intent, meaning, these searches are using geo-specific keywords in their queries.*
* Stats taken from Mike Blumenthal’s blog
With the rebranding Google also rolled out a few new features to help SMBs better market their businesses, or at least provide more info to consumers. These features include:
- Service Area and Location Settings: If your business is serviced-based and you cater to a certain area, you can now tell Google what that location area actually is, enhancing the chance your Place page will appear within that area
- QR Codes: Previously QR codes were given out to only the most popular businesses, based on clicks, which was kind of like an “award”. Just how Citysearch has their yearly awards, and the winners get plaques, Google is using QR (Quick Response) technology instead. If you have a mobile phone and QR reader app, you can take a pic of the QR code and instantly see the businesses Place page, which will include more info about the business.
- Free photo shoots: Glossy up your pearly whites, Google might just be coming to shoot interior photos of your business. You actually have to apply, and there is no guarantee they will shoot your business.
Google hasn’t exactly used a blow horn to announce this, and honestly, I’m not even sure if it’s new. It might be one of those features that was always available, but no one ever really knew about. When optimizing your Place page within Google Places you can add “additional details” to provide more information about your business. Well, it has been discovered that you can actually include links here. You can link to your social media profiles, dinner menu, reservation link, etc.
Keep in mind that Google isn’t currently indexing Place pages, so there really isn’t any SEO value to these links (i.e. don’t spend hours trying to figure out what your anchor text should be). Also, these links are fairly hidden on Place pages. A user would have to click on “more detail” in order to see these links, so it’s not like they jump out. My thought is there will be very little traffic coming from these links, but feel free to throw some tracking strings on to measure their effectiveness.
The final change was just announced a few days ago, and is really just a cool feature. Now when searching in Google Maps you can select “Earth” in the upper right corner of the map to see the Google Earth view.
There you have it, lots happening in the world of Google Places. Go forth and explore. Have thoughts about Google Places, the world of local search or this blog post? Please leave a comment.