Twenty percent of all searches now done on Google are local searches. By that I mean people are typing in “Mexican Restaurants Manhattan”, or “Bicycle Shops Boulder Colorado.” They are adding a local qualifier to their searches. Google, being quite smart, has realized this and has set up Google Places as a way to better help people find local businesses.
In September 2009 Google launched Google Places. Google Places is a part of Google Maps. It is, according to Google a webpage for every place in the world. There are place pages for businesses, points of interest, neighborhoods, landmarks and cities all over the world. You can get to a Place Page by clicking on “more info” in search results, or by clicking “more info” in the mini-bubble. Now, instead of just getting a slightly bigger bubble, you’ll get an entire page of rich details, like photos, videos, a Street View preview, nearby transit, reviews and related websites. Google wants there to be a Google Place page for every “place” in the world. They recently aggregated data to create over 50 million place pages for businesses and points of interest. Only about 4 million business have actually “claimed” their Google Places Page. You can create or update your Google Places page here. Business owners can update their Google Places page with hours of operation, photos, videos, coupons and product offerings. Customers can also place reviews about the business on Google Places. Here are some recently added features: * Service areas: If you travel to serve customers, you can now show which geographic areas you serve. And if you run a business without a storefront or office location, you can now make your address private. * A new, simple way to advertise: For just $25 per month, businesses in select cities can make their listings stand out on Google.com and Google Maps with Tags. * Business photo shoots: In addition to uploading their own photos, businesses in select cities can now request a free photo shoot of the interior of their business which they will use to supplement existing photos of businesses on Place Pages. * Customized QR codes: From the dashboard page of Google Places, businesses in the U.S. can download a QR code that’s unique to their business, directly from their dashboard page. QR codes can be placed on business cards or other marketing materials, and customers can scan them with certain smartphones to be taken directly to the mobile version of the Place Page for that business. * Favorite Places: Google actually mailed out window decals to 50,000 businesses around the U.S. These decals include a QR code that can be scanned with a smartphone to directly view the mobile Place Page for the business to learn more about their great offerings. You can now update your Google Place page in real time. You might want to promote a sale or special event or anything else you want customers to know about right now. You can even provide special coupons specially formatted for mobile phones. Why is Google Places so important for your business? When is the last time you used your Yellow Pages? The Yellow Pages are dead. Everyone is looking for all there local needs on Google. Google Place pages are even appearing above organic searches for local searches. Google is how people are looking for their local needs. If you want your business to be found you must be on Google Places. Google Places is also already optimized for mobile searches. More people have mobile phones than computers. This is how most people are searching for their local needs right now. Google Places is also part of Google Maps so if they want to find out how to get to your business they will most likely do a Google local search on their cell phone. You want to be found this way plus you want to make sure you have taken possession of your Google local page and full optimized it.