Last week, Google announced that its Local Business Center, a localized search feature, is becoming Google Places. Just like its predecessor, Google Places displays local businesses on Google Maps, along with other listing information such as websites, phone numbers and customer reviews, in location-based search results. Google has added several new features to Google Places that could further enhance your local SEO by providing more opportunities to promote certain aspects of your business to area customers.
If most, if not all, of your business involves traveling to serve customers, Google Places now allows you to indicate on Google Maps which geographic area(s) you serve without providing an official address for your business. Service areas are a terrific way for local businesses that don't operate from an official storefront or office to take advantage of the local search benefits Google Places offers.
For $25 per month, local businesses can tag their listings to highlight certain information, such as special offers and coupons. Although these paid listings do not affect search rankings, they could help with conversions. Currently, tags are only available in a few select U.S. cities but will become more widely available in coming months.
Business Photo Shoots
In addition to uploading their own photos, local businesses can now apply for a free, professional photo shoot of the interior of their business by Google photographers. Particularly for restaurants, retail stores, hotels and other businesses that put forth a visual aesthetic, adding images to your Google Places page can help your business stand out among other search listings.
Custom QR Codes
From their Google Places dashboard, businesses can now download custom QR codes, or codes that, when scanned by smartphones, take visitors to your Google Places page on their mobile phone. As the number of smartphone users is booming, including a scan-able code on business cards and other marketing materials that directs users to the contents of your Google Places profile â€“ including a mapped location and contact information â€“ is mighty handy and a good marketing move.
With the advent of Google Places, Google is, once again, naming some of the most popular businesses on Google Places â€œfavorite places.â€ The 50,000 businesses selected for this honor will be mailed a window decal that will not only display their favored status but a QR code that passersby can use to access their Google Places profile from their phone.
Although this feature has been around since January, business owners can now add updates to their Google Place page that will appear in real time. Real-time updates are a great way for businesses to share current information about coupons, sales and other offers that could potentially pull in more customers.
If you have yet to set up or claim your listing on Google Places, CyberMark can help you take full advantage of this invaluable local Internet marketing feature. Contact us for more information.
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