Google Launches Places Search

google lego logoGoogle has launched another search, this time Places Search, which is not to be confused with Local Search or Instant Search. Places search is similar to instant search in that they predict what you are searching for and provide results through Places Search when it is identified that you are seeking a place. Confused? Yeah, me too until I went in and performed some searches and found that it was very useful as a consumer.

Google Places Search

Google Places Search takes local search to a new level. As a small business, optimizing for local search allowed your target and local area to find you easily and conveniently. It erased the struggles of battling with big brands and brought you to your local market, providing you did claim your listing in the search engine local business centers. The search results in Google Places Search is shown with each result being marked with a red pin and provides links that are relevant to that business. The links include reviews from such sites as yelp.com, citysearch.com, etc.  The results appear from a regular google search which increases the importance of a complete and informative Google’s Local Business Center profile as well as the user reviews. We can see here how monitoring and addressing social mentions is a necessity and not an afterthought.

How Google Places Works

Google Places Search as mentioned above works withing a regular Google search. I have not turned off Google Instant (despite becoming frustrated at times when I receive a search result that is not what I bargained for) so when performing searches I was using Google Instant. When searching for restaurants the results immediately were places that they believed I was searching for with the red pins to show me the locations. I performed quite a few searches however the one that stands out the most was “Pizza” (as an Italian, I love my pizza and lots of it). The results were not what I expected (note, I was signed into my Google account which has my specific location in Las Vegas).

Google Places Search

It then took the advice of Google Instant and clicked on Pizza Las Vegas and the results were almost more remarkable:

google places search localMetro Pizza and Grimaldi’s are local pizza palors however we see nationwide chains dominating the search results. Big brand dominating the local places search is very telling. Sure, the local pizza palors may need to optimize better but when you see the map below, they are showing up and little red dots but not big red pins:ggoogle places search map

Is Local Search Optimization Effective?

Yes, it is, however, data presented here would dictate that for the non-chain pizza palor it is not. This could mean that the smaller shops need to do their homework but it could also mean that the bigger brands will always prevail? Without the inbound links could the smaller shops compete in what is to be a local search?

Have you used Google Places Search? What have you found, especially for the small businesses? Would love to hear what different cities are experiencing!

Google Lego photo credit: Gayle Laakmann McDowell

  • Hi Suzanne,

    Thanks for pointing this out as I hadnt seen this before.

    One thought is how to use this re: SEO. Must look at it more and see how I can get it to work for me 🙂

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  • If Places works anything like the normal Google (and it seems it does), big brands/chains are naturally favored in searches. It’s a shame ’cause you miss out on the small pearls, but it’s kinda predictable if you think about it.
    As you imagine I love my pizza too 😉 But, hey, long life to small slow-food restaurants!

    • Gabriele

      that is what I was finding too which is unfortunate as local search and places should allow for equal instead of favored. This is not to say that we should not consider a large brand when we are thinking about or pizza but at the same time, I was not even abler to find my local spots that are close to the house. I know they have a presence and are optimized as I found them other times. They cannot compete with the large chain brands so it then goes back to word of mouth and the smaller businesses building that way – which is what they have always done.

      • Imagine a social local search integrated with google maps. From your Likes on Facebook, followers on Twitter, stuff you Digg and Stumble, check-ins on 4Square and Facebook places, it understands your food likes, and knows to show certain places more than others, ’cause you’ve been there or ’cause a friend liked it and you often talk to him and so on.
        Maybe freaky for privacy-concerned (even if our privacy is totally screwed up anyway), but wouldn’t it be awesome?

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  • Deeepika Chaudhary2010

    Event: Nimbus 2012 | Technical Fest

    Organised by: National Institute of Technology, Hamirpur (H.P.)

    Key dates:

    Fest dates: 15th-18th March 2012

    Details:

    NIMBUS, the annual
    technical festival of NIT Hamirpur, as a reference to its name, is
    aura. An aura of knowledge. An aura of technology. An aura that is set
    ablaze with creative ideas, nurtured with dedication and sheer hard work
    and brought to climax by the passion of the students. NIMBUS, in all
    its spirit is a concoction of the aforenamed qualities. A new fragrance
    rules the air, a hushed murmur is widespread in the whole state and the
    atmosphere acquires a flamboyant feel. Sprawled across a time span of
    four days, this fest comprises of events that go a far way in honing the
    technical and managerial skills of students. It is four days
    of knowledge, exuberance, growth and fun, an end to which always leaves
    students in anticipation for the next year.

    After six years, since its
    unveiling in 2005, NIMBUS has come a long way from new events that test
    and improve the skills of students, being added every year to bigger
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    Website: http://www.festnimbus.org/

  • Deeepika Chaudhary2010

    Event: Nimbus 2012 | Technical Fest

    Organised by: National Institute of Technology, Hamirpur (H.P.)

    Key dates:

    Fest dates: 15th-18th March 2012

    Details:

    NIMBUS, the annual
    technical festival of NIT Hamirpur, as a reference to its name, is
    aura. An aura of knowledge. An aura of technology. An aura that is set
    ablaze with creative ideas, nurtured with dedication and sheer hard work
    and brought to climax by the passion of the students. NIMBUS, in all
    its spirit is a concoction of the aforenamed qualities. A new fragrance
    rules the air, a hushed murmur is widespread in the whole state and the
    atmosphere acquires a flamboyant feel. Sprawled across a time span of
    four days, this fest comprises of events that go a far way in honing the
    technical and managerial skills of students. It is four days
    of knowledge, exuberance, growth and fun, an end to which always leaves
    students in anticipation for the next year.

    After six years, since its
    unveiling in 2005, NIMBUS has come a long way from new events that test
    and improve the skills of students, being added every year to bigger
    sponsors coming forward to finance Himachal’s grandest and
    largest technical extravaganza. 

    Website: http://www.festnimbus.org/