Google just announced the launch of Google Places – which seems at first glance to be a renaming of their Local Business Center with some added features and benefits. That’s fine with me – simplification is always a good thing when involving some ancillary benefits, and I personally like the additional benefits Google is claiming.

  • Service Areas – This is a great addition! With Google’s Local Business Center, you had to have and claim an address which would define the physical location around which search results are displayed. The service areas feature allows you to claim a territory in which you service clients, extending your geography for search. Nice!
  • Business Photo Shoots – Say what? If I’m reading this correctly and I think I am, Google has photographers visiting businesses throughout the US taking photos of interiors and exteriors for use in Google Places to help better showcase organizations. They got the money… nice!
  • Customized QR codes – QR codes, which are funky barcodes, can be downloaded and placed on business cards. When scanned – by mobile devices via a Google app – users are taken to the company’s Google Place page. Pretty cool feature, especially for companies that do not have an official website presence. Nice!
  • Tags Advertising – So for less than a buck a day ($25/month) you can advertise using “tags” in select cities (see image to the right). When businesses are displayed via Google’s standard map, a tag can be placed by a location so that the business can display pertinent or promotional information. Not a bad investment given the number of searches Google serves each day. Nice!

I like what I’m seeing, though not being in one of the major markets currently being served by the local tag advertising, time will tell. It seems as though Google Places might just be the place to be for the immediate future. That is until Yahoo and Bing tries to tout its equivalent – Yahoo! Yokels or Bing Business perhaps?