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It is official, the Google Local Business Center is now called Google Places. This change comes as Google is shooting to re-brand their product around the Place Pages that they rolled out last fall. For those who don’t know, Place Pages are the business listing pages that are found in Google local searches. These pages are vital when doing local SEO and have relevant data about a particular business such as reviews, images, and other important information that the business adds after they claim their listing.

There are some new features that Google rolled out with this name change. They are as follows:

  1. Service Areas – Many times, businesses travel from place to place to service their customers. If this is the case, their listing can show the geographic areas that they cover. If a business does not have a brick and mortar storefront, they can make their address private, which was previously not an option.
  2. Advertising With Tags – For $25 a month, businesses can use Tags to highlight their listings on Google Maps. These highlights come in the form of yellow markers that let you highlight certain aspects of your business like coupons, photos, and other features. Please note that these Tags will not affect your ranking in the search engines, but are an indicator to customers that you do have more information available that might prove to be beneficial to them. This feature is only available in a few “test” cities right now and you can expect Google to increase the number of cities in the future.
  3. More Visitor Information – Google also gives businesses using Google Places information they haven’t been able to see in the past, like who’s searching for them, how they’re finding them, and where they’re coming from. This information is valuable insight and should not be overlooked by search engine marketers.
  4. Business Photo Shoots – Businesses can request a free photo shoot from Google to have the interior of their business photographed and then added to their Place Page. There have been certain instances in the past where Google has done this with a few of the Local Business Center listings, I guess we now know what they were testing this option. A business can also take their own photos and upload them to their Place Page. This too is only available in a few “test” cities.
  5. Customized QR Codes – QR codes are starting to become all the rage and Google is now hopping on board by providing customized QR codes from the Google Places Dashboard. When scanned, this code will take your customers to your Place Page and can be used on your business cards and other promotional material distributed by your marketing team. You can read more about QR codes here.

For those individuals, businesses, and SEO companies playing in the local search space, this change is an exciting, fresh take on local listings. We are very exited to dive deeper into these features and leverage them to provide additional value to each of our local and small business SEO clients.