About a week ago, Google announced that it had changed the name of the Google Local Business Center to Google Places. Along with that, however, they announced a good deal of new features that businesses should be aware of. If you are not, they include: service areas, advertising with tags, business photo shoots, customized QR codes, and more favorite places. You can read about them more here.
How important is Google Places to your strategy? Discuss here.
Don’t stop there though. Google Places may be a vital part of your strategy for getting customers to your location. The company has put together some resources for businesses to learn more about Google Places so they can maximize the benefits.
"With a new name comes a fresh support experience," says Google Places Senior Strategist Brianna Brekke. "The Google Places team wants to make sure that, as a business owner, your experience with Google Places is a good one, so we’ve taken some steps to expand and refine our support offerings."
There is of course a help center where businesses can learn more about managing their listings and new features, as well as report problems. A newly revamped user guide and support channels are available here. Google has made it more interactive as well, adding a guided tou of the Place Page.
If you have questions or ideas for Google Places, you can check out the Google Moderator page, where you can not only contribute, but vote up the ideas from others that you like. On May 21, Google is actually going to review the top questions and record video responses, which they’ll post in the help center.
Forums have always been great venues for the exchange of ideas and for people to get help with their problems. You can discuss how to improve your Google Places listing and other related issues at the forum they’ve set up. Help here comes from volunteers deemed "top contributors" as well as Google employees.
Finally, Google has webinars you can sign up for where you can educate yourself about your Google Places listing. All of the resources can be found here. You may want to bookmark it.
Local businesses should consider how big a role Google plays in many people’s lives when it comes to finding information, including something as simple as looking up a local business. With mobile usage on the rise, it stands to reason that this will become even more the case.
That’s not to say that you should stop at Google. In fact, I believe search is getting more diversified as a result of mobile. People are looking to more places (via apps) to find the information they’re looking for. Google is still a huge factor, however, and that will remain for the foreseeable future. Android usage is on the rise, and that means a lot of convenient Google Voice searching, and one-button Google searches.