By now it is apparent that 2010 is going to be remembered as the year that Local Search took over the Internet. More than ever, customers are using their mobile phones to locate nearby businesses, share their location with their friends, and post reviews of their favorite local businesses. Last week Google announced 5 great new features that will allow small businesses to increase their local reach on both Google.com and the mobile web. The offering is being called "Google Places" and the services are listed on the Official Google Blog as follows:
- 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. As of today, we’re rolling out Tags to three new cities — Austin, Atlanta and Washington, D.C. — in addition to ongoing availability in Houston and San Jose, CA. In the coming weeks we'll also be introducing Tags in Chicago, San Diego, Seattle, Boulder and San Francisco.
- 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 we'll use to supplement existing photos of businesses on Place Pages. We've been experimenting with this over the past few months, and now have created a site for businesses to learn more and express their interest in participating.
- 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: We're doing a second round of our Favorite Places program, and are mailing 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.
This is the perfect time to get your business online so don't hesitate to take advantage of these latest offerings from Google. If you're interested in getting set up on "Google Places" and you aren't sure how to begin, I'd be happy to help you get the ball rolling. Just leave a comment below or fill out the form on the contact us page.
Don't get left behind! Embrace the latest technology and your customers will find you however they chose to search.