Google Gives Places a Boost! November 4, 2010 by Brett Prince Many local businesses in this day and age realize the importance of having an online presence simply because that’s where their customers are. In fact, research has shown that 97% of people conduct some form of research online prior to purchasing anything locally. Positioning your business on Google Places, which are free business listings that appear on Google and Google Maps, is of the utmost importance. Having this listing allows you to share valuable information about your business, such as hours of operation, product sales, photos and videos – and now you can do even more. Google has just launched a new location-based advertising system for businesses who wish to connect with a local audience. Boost enables businesses to create online ads easily and directly from their Google Places account. After the ad campaign is setup and launched, there is no ongoing management required, unlike PPC campaigns. This shows Google’s advancement into a different type of market, one that’s less technical but still sees the importance of advertising online. The Boost Beta solution is currently available to businesses located in the San Francisco, Houston and Chicago areas. How Boost Works Boost ads are displayed when a user searches for businesses locally, appearing in the “sponsored links” section of Google’s standard search results, as well as Google Maps. Ads appear when a search query contains a vertical keyword (e.g. “restaurants”) and a location keyword (e.g. “San Francisco”) as shown in the graphic below. As the graphic illustrates, these ads contain more than your basic company name, address, phone number and website. Ads will also include relevant data that may help the customer, such as reviews you have received, an average star rating and a Place page link to your business listing that may help potential clientele find more useful information about your business. Visually, your business will appear on a map located alongside the search results, highlighted with a blue pin that will guide users to your location quickly and easily. If your business is using Google Tags you will also see the yellow tag in the ad. Businesses can manage ads directly within their Google Places account – this is not to be confused with PPC advertising. Setting your account up with an ad is very straight forward and the management of the campaign is automatic, something that allows businesses that are unfamiliar with PPC campaigns or online advertising to ease into the activity. The only piece of information needed for the campaign setup is a set budget – Google’s algorithm will handle the most relevant keywords that will trigger your ad, placement of the ads, as well as the display frequency. This type of management will effectively help you get the most out of your allotted budget on Places. Similar to PPC campaigns, you only pay when your ad is clicked and all ad performance data is accessible through the Google Places dashboard. Positioning in the “Sponsored Links” section of the page will, as always, depend on a variety of factors, such as budget, ad relevance and quality. Having experience with advertising campaign management is an asset, especially as Places grows and changes. Below is an example of a registration place within Google Places. As you can see, it’s very straight forward which maximizes usability and the “description” and “categories” fields are pre-populated with relevant suggestions based on your current Place page information for your business. Google has been focusing more on local and location-based information lately, clearly understanding that location plays a vital role in search, and with mobile and GPS applications and features becoming more prominent, Google has been adding more and more location-based search features.