This month the guys and gals at the Google Maps team launched a new “Dashboard” for their free Google Local Business Center, which allows users to control their local business listing and view analytics of how it is performing via Google Maps and Google Search.
Since local listings have been becoming more and more valuable to searchers, Google is working to make that experience more relevant. With that in mind, this new dashboard provides details that are verified by the humans using the service, which then provides local businesses with more opportunities to be seen in local search results. Hence, there is a mutual vested interest between Google and local businesses to make these listings accurate. (In reality, it will more likely be SEO Professionals providing this service for local businesses in the near term).
This is valuable lead generation and customer acquisition service even for businesses that have no other web presence, since anyone searching for products or services that are offered in a business’s local vicinity will have an opportunity to find that business. (As a comparison, think of Google local search as a continually improving replacement for that old Yellow Pages book which you may be using to hold doors open, support your potted plants, serve as a small step stool, or as a paper weight for your children’s art projects).
The metrics available in the dashboard offer themselves as an additional tool in a search marketer’s arsenal. The dashboard displays stats such as:
♦ Impressions: The number of times the business listing appeared as a result on a Google.com search or Google Maps search in a given period.
♦ Actions: The number of times people interacted with the listing; for example, the number of times they clicked through to the business’ website or requested driving directions to the business.
♦ Top search queries: Which queries led customers to the business listing; for example, are they finding the listing for a cafe by searching for “tea” or “coffee”?
♦ Zip codes where driving directions come from: Which zip codes customers are coming from when they request directions to your location.
Even if you are already using Google Analytics, this information is very useful – not to mention, you won’t have access to it any other way.
In addition to adding and/or editing the basic details about your business, each business can include photos and a video to further make their listing stand out and to promote their products/services.
Creating your own “Coupons” are another addition to the dashboard. Businesses can enhance their local listing by adding sales coupons to inspire more searchers to select their business from their search results.
Update April 20, 2010: Today, Google’s “Local Business Center” became “Google Places.” The change is designed “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.”
For more details click the following link to Google Places .