Benefits to Getting Listed on Google Places
Google continues its friendly relationship with local businesses by beefing up Google Local Business, now known as “Google Places”. The world’s largest search engine company is betting its renewed emphasis will get more local retail and service outlets to use Google when marketing their businesses.
I have used Google Places to market my wife’s housecleaning business here in Long Island, NY, so I am enthusiastic about the changes. Getting visibility in the 1st page results of Google – depending on whether or not your business exists in Google Places’ preset categories – is now pretty easy.
Now, businesses home-based and larger can set their service areas, which enables customers to find them more easily.
And in some cities, Google is offering local businesses free photo shoots (by a Google photographer!) of their store interior. The photos are then uploaded to accompany the Google Places listing. If you think this goal sounds too lofty, remember Google has blanketed much of the U.S.’ major cities – and their suburbs – with photographs to give its Google Maps users a ‘street level’ view of directions and locations.
Lastly – and a bit premature, I think – is that Google Places users can generate their own QR (“Quick Response”) code to place next to their listing, which a customer, equipped with a scanner on their phone, could scan to download information to their device. Such technology is proven in theory, but will people actually use it anytime in the near future? It smacks of the promise of a similar-in-concept technology, the cuecat, which was a commercial failure.
Overall, Google’s recent changes to Places make it an even more robust marketing tool for small business owners. When it comes to driving traffic to local stores and their websites, nothing is better than free, especially when fee-based, much-ballyhooed “local” marketing solutions like AOL’s Patch.com, have yet to fully prove their mettle.
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