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Local Search 2011: Google Places Resources
Monday, July 25, 2011
Local Search is such a key component to any search strategy, yet it is so overlooked as part of an organization's online marketing efforts. The fact of the matter is that local search is not going away. In fact, search engines such as Google will continue to focus their efforts on local search. One of the main reasons for this is because of the increasing and widespread use of mobile devices. Mobile and local search go hand in hand. In fact reports suggest that usage of mobile apps for mobile search has been found to outweigh mobile app offerings by merchants. 
According to ComScore's The State of Local Search study, January 2011 saw 77.1 million mobile subscribers accessed local content on a mobile device—up 34% from the previous year. If that's not enough for you, consider this Internet Yellow Pages and local search sites exhibited strong growth with 5.6 billion local searches in 2010, a 15% increase over 2009.

As the leader in Search, why wouldn't Google step up their efforts with local search and their Google Places offering?  Google controls local search rankings on their SERPs (search engine results pages).   So how else can a local advertiser be found on Google?  It's a good question, one that we have to wait to answer.  According to Google,  local search rankings are defined as:
Local search ranking refers to the placement and order of local information on a Google or Google Maps organic search results page.
For right now the answer appears to be in Google Places.  If you have a business you should be leveraging Google Places.  Not familiar with Google Places? 

What is Google Places
Launched in April 2010, the service formerly known as Google's Local Business Center became known as Google Places.  Google Places allows business owners to claim their business and customize their listing on Google Maps.
  • Using Google Places for Business can help get your business found on local search results on both Google Search and Google Maps.
  • Google Places is really a business listing page within Google's Maps service. Within Google Maps, users can find products or services offered by local businesses including transportation directions and business information.
As mentioned, Google is really focusing on local search.  Part of the reason for this is to generate additional revenue through ads.  According to this report, Google has launched a program to make it easier for small business owners to buy search ads:

"... It's all part of the company's ongoing effort to earn more money from local businesses, which CEO Larry Page cited as one of his priorities on the company's last earnings call.

AdWords Express, which was tested last fall under the name Boost, offers businesses a series of simple forms to let them set up an AdWords campaign in minutes. Businesses can set a maximum budget and guide users either to their Google Places page. If they don't have a Places page Google will set one up automatically when they buy the ad.

Page named local (along with Google+) as one of the company's top investment areas this year. The company recently launched a daily deals service called Offers..."

So the focus on local search is quite obvious.  The key piece to Google's Local Search offering is Google Places.

11 Resources on Google Places to Bookmark

Want to learn more about Google Places?  Check out these resources.

#11.  Google Gives New Look To Place Pages - http://www.marketingpilgrim.com/2011/06/google-gives-new-look-to-place-pages.html

#10.  More Detailed Thoughts on Google’s Place Page Shift - http://www.davidmihm.com/blog/google/july-2011-place-page-update/

#9.  Google Local Search Ranking Keys: Relevance, Prominence & Distance -

#8.  5 Ways to Get More From Your Google Place Page -

#7.  Ranking in Google Places - A Definitive Guide -

#6. Introducing Google Places - http://google-latlong.blogspot.com/2010/04/introducing-google-places.html

#5. The Ongoing Evolution of Place Pages -

#4.  How Local Search Ranking Work -

#3.  Google Places Blog - http://places.blogspot.com/

#2.  Google Places Help for Business Owners - http://www.google.com/support/places/

#1. Google Places User Guide - http://www.google.com/support/places/bin/static.py?hl=en&page=guide.cs&guide=28247&from=28247&rd=1

More on the growth of local and mobile search. http://www.localsearchinsider.org/double-digit-growth-of-online-and-mobile-local-search/archives/

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