Once upon a time, I gave the general advice that you should not only have a Google Places for Business listing for your business, but also set up a Google+ Local Business Page. At the time, it was your standard Google strategy: when they roll something out, if you want to be ahead of the game, you try it, even if it seems completely pointless. That advice now bears fruit in the new Google Maps, which I beta tested this morning. What's new? Search results on the map itself. Let's look at the process.
First, the search box is a heck of a lot smaller:
I decided to search for my teacher's school, the Boston Martial Arts Center, in a very generic query.
See the line right under the search box? Places from top reviewers, places from your circles? Google+ has made it into your local business search in a new way. If you've been building out your local business listings in Google Local and Google+ Local, your efforts just paid off, as people can now filter based on their Google+ networks.
Click on a listing and here's what you get:
It's now more important than ever to fill out and complete your Google Places for Business listing as well as your Google+ Local profile, because all of the media, all of the information, and all of the reviews are now put in a much more obvious, much more attractive info card. What's more, the information Google displays is drawn from BOTH sources, so make sure to keep them in sync!
Finally, if you're getting your business started, or you're rebranding it and it's a locally-focused business (like a martial arts school or a pizza shop), consider a geographically-based name.
When someone searches in the new Maps search box by geography, your listing may (if you've done everything else right) get preference because it exact-matches a geography search.
The new Google Maps for the desktop is nice. However, if these features become standard in the mobile apps, then your business will either thrive or wither, since Google Maps powers an incredible number of mobile searches.
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