July 4, 2010
Why the rebrand? There are a couple of motivations as I see it: A,,) Google wants to dominate the local search wars, and B) Google is attempting to position their local search service to take advantage of ad revenue.
Regardless of their motivations for the name change, you need to take advantage of a number of really cool features Google introduced with Google Places.
1) Service areas: Most dental practices won’t be interested in this feature, but if you travel to your customers for any reason, you can now list your service areas.
Image by w2scott via Flickr
2) Simple Advertising: For just $25 per month, you can highlight your listing on Google.com and Google Maps with what they’re calling “Tags”. Tags are essentially yellow markers that allow you to promote important aspects of your businesses. Keep in mind that tags will not help your business listing to appear higher in the search results. However, tags do allow you to list more information about your business than those businesses who did not purchase tags.
3) Business photo shoots – In addition to uploading photos of your business, you can now sign up to have Google create a virtual photoshoot of the interior of your business. Oh, and the best part is that they’ll do this for free. This sort of transparency speaks volumes to customers. You can sign up for a free photo shoot by clicking on the following link Sign up here.
4) Customized QR (two-dimensional) barcodes – From the Google Places dashboard, you now have the opportunity to download a QR code that’s unique to your business. QR codes can be placed on business cards or other marketing materials, and customers can scan them with certain smartphones to be taken directly to the mobile version of the Place Page for your business.
5) Favorite Places – Google is mailing window decals to 50,000 businesses around the US. These decals include a QR code that can be scanned with a smartphone to directly view the mobile Place Page for the business to learn more about their great offerings.
6) Real-time Updates – You might want to promote a sale, a special event happening today or anything else that you want customers to know right now, and this feature lets you communicate that directly to your customers. You can also provide extra incentive by adding coupons, including ones specially formatted for mobile phones.
7) Analytics – To keep track of how your business listing is performing on Google, they’re now offering a personalized dashboard within Google Places that will show you how many times people have found your business on Google, what keywords they used to find it and even what areas people traveled from to visit your business. With the dashboard, you can see how your use of any of these new features affects interest in your business and make more informed decisions about how to be found on Google and interact with your customers.
If you run a dental practice, then you need to take advantage of Google Place’s powerful new features. Not only does your business stand to benefit from higher visibility in Google, but you may just see an increase in the number of patients coming through your doors as well.