The phone companies used to make huge money with yellow pages. Google obviously sees the potential to do that same business with no printing cost and a greatly reduced sales cost. Google sees it and they have figured out just how to accomplish it - Google Places. The established brands like YellowPages.com and SuperPages, or the amazing content providers like HotFrog and Merchant CIrcle, or the clever strategy to keep consumers involved such as CitySearch, Yelp, or Foursquare are all just second place possibilities. The thing they can't overcome is location. The MAP on page one of searches for local businesses like lawyer, jeweler, or realtor is so dominant that the only thing that can keep Google Places from the same kind of market share they have in search would be some big slip in quality or usefulness.
A casual observer could be forgiven for thinking that their Beta version was some of those things. But as usual Google used the Beta to learn from the users. And the result is nothing short of stunning. The content is accurate far beyond any of the other local search engines or directories. The pulling of citations from other resources is brilliant. Then they start adding tools. First allowing links in the more information section. Then posts that can include links. But the latest chapter is evidence that they are either really lucky or just have the best team of marketers money can buy.
Kirk says about Tags: "We've known about them for months, and they have been tested in a few markets since late in 2009. But Google Places Tags just seemed like a little highlighter for the business listing until it was pared with Posts. Using this little yellow tag as a way to point to a website, picture of the outside of the business, video, or coupon was feeble. Still probably worth $25 a month, but not exciting.
"Now you get 22 characters to differentiate yourself from the other seven companies in the 7-pak or from the other 10 on the page in the general listings in Maps. For instance, let's say a company has the exclusive rights to a top brand in the local area. But this brand is not part of the company name. Here is the place to put that brand. Or, there can be a daily change in the menu, surprise pricing deals that will keep the competition guessing, or announcements of events."
Even more amazing, according to Kirk: You can also use the Post, therefore the Tag, to include a link. So the Post/Tag could read Facebook Fan Page offer and the rest of the Post would include the link and a bit more information about the offer. (You have a total of 100 characters available on the Post)."
What is fantastic for a small business about this new combination?
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The New Yellow Pages for Local Business is Google Places. No one knows more about how to optimize a small business listing on Google Places than www.SearchPage1.com. They have been analyzing and testing Google Places since it started out as Google Maps Local Business Center, and now they have created a huge treasure trove of free information at their website http://www.Page1Listings.com. In addition there is free DIY content for every aspect of Google Places at http://www.FreeSeoOptimizationTips.blogspot.com. Page1Listings is also known for their website development, YouTube Videos and other online and offline marketing capabilities.
Kirk is the author of Running a 21st Century Small Business, a Warner Business Books release available at bookstores and on Amazon