SEO Trends 2010: Understanding Google Places

Google has recently launched a new service called Google Places that is aimed at promoting local businesses on its search engine. More importantly, this service is separate from the paid services such as the Ad Words program. Google Places has been initiated with a few US cities and it is bound to grow bigger every week.

It is essentially a method of increasing the chances of a business being highlighted on the Google Search Page when a query for a local business is made. Please understand that this service seems to be aimed at the regional side of business listings. Hence, queries that are made for a particular city, province, street or even a neighborhood are more likely to benefit local businesses via the Google Places. This service also seems more detailed and a step beyond the Google Maps service. The mapping system is essentially detailing the geographical location of a business or a company but it doesn’t do much in terms of profiling the services or the nature of the business.

First Impressions
Many of the smaller businesses in selected US cities have already gotten themselves listed. Many folks are referring to this service as “getting listed” since the process of filling-up information during a Google Place registration invariably includes browsing various tabs termed as ‘listings’ by Google itself. The biggest reason why this is bound to help smaller businesses is the kind of information that can be presented as a part of a listing. For instance, a business can include things such as the hours or working, small images of the office location and even videos. This means that as a browser if I am looking for a ‘ny central hair salon open between 10 and 11 am’, a smaller salon that is still new in NY city has a chance to get highlighted, since it can present information like its location and its timings through Google Places, helping it to compete against the bigger, established salons. In a way, it seems more beneficial for businesses with lower ranked or recently-launched sites that otherwise have little chance of showing-up among the first few results. Like I said, since this is a free service, it is suited for those folks who aren’t using the Ad Words facility. In terms of search-based visibility for smaller businesses, it definitely seems like a very handy feature.

Understanding More
This service too functions on the relevancy of the search terms. Even Google Maps functions on the same principle but since the information that can be fed as a part of the mapping process is so limited, the scope for getting highlighted in the search engines for the smaller businesses is limited. However, the Google Places service does a lot more. As a part of this listing process, businesses can customize their information to the last alphabet. This includes adding information about which famous street they are located close to or the important business center wherein they are currently located and even popular landmarks or their popular neighbors. The registration process isn’t difficult but it does include a few steps of verification. Further, in some selected US cities, a free facility of Business Photos has been started by Google. This means that Google will provide a free photo-shoot of the concerned office and its whereabouts and the images will be added to the business’ Places Page!

The author is an SEO executive with Trace Media-a renowned SEO Company New York. Trace Media has built an impressive portfolio of global and New York-based clients by providing customized and affordable SEO consulting New York services.