Google Places is a system that allows businesses owners to manage their local online presence in Google.

So far, over four million businesses have claimed their Place Page on Google.

Having a Place Page allows businesses to enhance their business information to include such features as product offerings, videos, photos, coupons, and hours of operation. As well, a "Google place page allows businesses to communicate with their customers and acquire valuable feedback that will help them make more effective business decisions.

Because Google Places is testing and offering new features in the USA and other cities in the world, Canadian businesses owners should be aware of these changes and be prepared to manage them accordingly. Below are a number of beneficial features included with Google Places that are not happening in Canada yet.

Google Tags

Google tags are yellow markers that make your business stand out. Google states: Adding a tag to your Google Places listing allows you to highlight info that you want your customers to see. You can highlight a coupon, photos, or website. You can also see stats on how your tag is performing at the dashboard. It costs $25 a month and it can be deactivated any time.

Business Photo Shots

Additional to photo uploads directly into Places Pages, business in selected cities in the US, Australia, and Japan can schedule a business photo shot session with Googles photographers. To participate in this program, businesses fill out a form to schedule a session. If selected, Google will contact the business by phone.

The photos will be used to supplement current business photos on Place Pages. Additionally, the same form can be used for businesses that are not located in the selected cities to suggest Google where to send its photographers next.

Customized QR Codes

Directly from the dashboard page of Google Places account, businesses can download a QR code that is unique to their business. Customers with smart phones can scan Google Customized QR code and see the mobile version of the place page. QR codes can be added to advertising materials such as business cards, brochures or any other promotional resources.

Google Maps Favourite Place

Google is sending window decals to selected business owners, based on popularity and customer interaction. Google user interaction can be considered as the customer feedback, reviews, asking for directions, ratings. Called "Favorite Places on Google" the decals include a QR code that can be scanned with a smartphone to directly view the mobile Place Page for the business. Google has mailed around 200,000 window decals to business in US.

Dashboard driving directions by zip code Analytics

Besides the impressions and actions analytics that Google provides in the dashboard, for business in US it also gives reports of Where driving directions requests come from. See the picture below where Google gives the report with city names and zip codes along with the number of requests.

New Layouts

A new layout was seen last month in few cities of US, where Google is showing the organic results along with its Place page profile beneath when looking for a geo-targeted keyword.  Lets see the graphic below that was reported by pest control seo. Also Mike Blumenthals gives a very detail report in his blog.

  1. Top Sponsored results stay the same
  2. Google is showing the organic listing results along with its Google Places pages included. It also shows direct links to reviews and the Place page.
  3. Map is located at the top right corner, above paid results. Map scrolls down with page, pushing down Adwords
  4. Normal organic results are shown below

Tips for Canadian Business owners:

  • Have a Google places profile page, claimed, completed and ready for any changes Google applies in Canada
  • Include extras in your listings, such as coupons, these will spicy up your place page for customers and at the same will add more content under Googles eyes. Also that will help when Google gives you a QR code
  • Encourage customers to leave reviews if they are happy with your services, monitor them and respond to reviews. That will make your listing popular and Google might mail you a window decal