Last September, Google launched the Local Business Center to help business owners to reach out to a larger audience. They have now renamed the service ‘Google Places’ in an attempt to help users understand the connection between Google and the Local Business Center.
The service has already been doing well, with over 4 million businesses having connected to it and creating Place Pages. It provides information to users about more than 50 million places worldwide ranging from restaurants and bars to parks and museums.
Google Places will now offer some additional features such as the area in which the service provider operates.
Businesses will also be able to highlight their listings with a little yellow tag on Google.com and Google Maps for just $25 a month. The facility is already available in certain cities like Houston and San Jose and is now being introduced in Austin, Atlanta and Washington D.C. It will also be introduced in Chicago, San Diego, Seattle, Boulder and San Francisco shortly.
While it is already possible to upload photos on the site, Google will now offer a free photo shoot of the interiors of the business premises in certain cities.
Google will also provide customised QR codes to businesses through Google Places. Late last year, Google introduced a feature called ‘Favorite Places’, which allowed over 100,000 businesses to feature a window decal saying “We’re a favourite place on Google”, alongside a QR code linking to the Place Page for the business. Google will push another round of this service and will provide window decals to 50,000 more businesses in the U.S.A.
Many have seen these new services from Google to be in direct response to Yelp declining their acquisition offer. Popularising the Google Places service via the businesses and driving more users to interact with and review these listings will definitely give Google the ammunition it needs to stop Yelp’s growth into their territory.