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Google Local Business Center Rebranded As Google Places

Google PlacesIf you’re familiar at all with Google Local, then you’ve at least once in your lifetime logged into Google’s Local Business Center in order to update or change your business’ Local Business Listing (or, as many of us in the SEO industry like to refer to it as, LBL).
Well Google recently decided that Local Business Center was too long of a name and has decided to rebrand it as Google Places. Some of the “upgrades” to the new Google Local:

  1. For businesses offering goods (versus services- service-based businesses don’t seem to have this option): When submitting a business to Google Places, you can now, instead of just submitting an address and hoping that you rank for the city that you’re in as well as the surrounding areas, designate an area that you serve. Before, Google Local usually would only rank you in the top results for a search if you’re actually in that area, and in some cases, closest to the center of that area (referred to as the city “centroid”. But now, with business owners having the ability to tell Google what cities they service, it will be interesting to see how ranking factors change over the next few months. Will it really be as easy as telling Google what you want to rank for on a Local search? That remains to be seen.
  2. You can now “tag” your listing with special offers that will supposedly stand out among the rest of the listings. Great, another way for Google to make money selling more advertising opportunities.
  3. Instead of you having to upload the image of your business, Google will come out and take a picture for you at no charge. This isn’t really new feature in my opinion as Google started posting pictures taken by their Google Maps crews to profiles that weren’t yet claimed by local business owners starting earlier this year.

The biggest change of the three appears to be the feature where you can designate what areas your business serves. We’ll be sure to monitor these developments over the coming months in order to best serve our clients and to make sure that we are obtaining optimal results for their Local searches.