Posted by: Nick Leiber on April 20, 2010
Nearly two million businesses in the U.S. promote themselves by using free listing pages on Google. Today the search giant is wrapping its old listing tool, Local Business Center, into its existing directory, Google Places, to streamline the experience for the person searching and the business owner managing the business’ online presence. The biggest change (first piloted in Feb.) is business owners in select cities can now pay $25 a month to draw more attention to their listing.
From Google’s blog post today:
We launched Place Pages last September for more than 50 million places around the world to help people make more informed decisions about where to go, from restaurants and hotels to dry cleaners and bike shops, as well as non-business places like museums, schools and parks. Place Pages connect people to information from the best sources across the web, displaying photos, reviews and essential facts, as well as real-time updates and offers from business owners.
Google is also introducing several new free features for business owners:
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.
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.
TechCrunch’s Erick Schonfeld explains the implications for others gunning for the local business directory space in his post earlier today.