Google Places will continue to offer the same tools provided by the Local Business Center, such as helping a company verify and supplement business information including hours of operation, photos, videos, coupons and product information; providing a way to communicate with customers; and giving businesses new insights that enable it to make smart decisions. In addition, Google Places will provide a number of new tools for business owners.
Service areas: Businesses that travel to serve customers - ranging from plumber to photographer to piano tuner - can now specify the geographic area served. Home-based businesses or those without a physical storefront can also now use Google Places and opt to keep their address private. This helps businesses be found by the most relevant customers and connects consumers with a wider, more accurate selection of options that will serve them. Businesses can choose to set a service area by distance or areas served. Selecting distance is the best option for a business owner who is willing to travel a certain distance from a central location, while areas served is best suited for those that only target specific cities.
A new, simple way to advertise: For a flat rate of $25 per month, businesses in select cities can make their listings stand out from the competition with Tags. Today we’re rolling out Tags to three new cities - Austin, Atlanta and Washington, DC - in addition to ongoing availability in Houston and San Jose, CA. Over the course of the coming weeks, we'll also be introducing the feature in Chicago, San Diego, Seattle, Boulder, and San Francisco. Tags provide business owners with an opportunity to showcase an aspect of their Place Page that they think best reflects what they have to offer their customers. They can do this by highlighting a link to point customers directly to photos, videos, website, coupons, directions, menu or reservations signup. Let's say a deli owner thinks the huge selection of imported cheeses really makes her deli stand out; she may want to give potential customers a quick way to see the menu on her website or a photo of her display case. This enhancement will appear in search results on Google.com and Google Maps.
QR code generator:
From their Google Places account, business owners in the U.S. will also be able to download a QR code that’s unique to their business. Businesses can place QR codes on business cards, marketing materials, or on their storefront. By scanning them with their Android-powered devices or iPhones, customers can be taken directly to that business’ mobile Place page to learn more about their offerings and read reviews. QR codes, also knows as 2D barcodes, are an innovative way to connect with customers.
We've started mailing out window decals with customized QR codes to more than 50,000 businesses around the U.S. as part of our Favorite Places program, indicating the places that Google users most frequently seek out. We first unveiled Favorite Places in December 2009, mailing out decals to more than 100,000 businesses at the time.
Business photo shoots: Businesses in select cities can now request a photo shoot of the interior of their business, which we'll use to supplement existing photos on Place pages. These photographs will provide customers with a fuller understanding of a business' offerings, layout, merchandise, and services. You can view the list of participating cities here, and businesses can learn more about the program and sign up at maps.google.com/businessphotos.
Webinars & Support:
Live updates: Place pages now allow for live updates to be made by business owners. This can be used to promote a sale, a special event, a limited-time promotion, or anything else that can provide relevant, timely information. For example, Mission Mountain Winery keeps customers up-to-date on their latest bottles fresh in stock:
Personalized dashboard: Google offers rich analytics to empower business owners to keep track of their listing's performance on Google. Data available includes how many times a listing has surfaced as a search result, the different types of interactions with the content, the keywords that lead customers to the listing, and the zip code where customers originate. The owner of Coffee Depot in Riverside, CA used the Dashboard to keep track of the effectiveness of his marketing and public relations campaigns. Today we are also bringing the Dashboard to 14 new countries (
Mobile coupons: Many business owners have opted to add a coupon that can be printed from their Place page. We've also added the option to have your coupons specially formatted for customers to redeem simply by using their mobile phone - no printer or scissors required.