Google Place Sand Box


Red dots on Google mapposted May 1, 2010 6:45 PM by David Khorram

Anybody who has used Google Maps lately may have noticed from a few to hundreds of red dots on the maps in addition to the usual place markers. If you want to get a first hand glimpse of this go to Google and click on the Maps tab. Once you are in Google Maps, search "locksmith NYC". You will see the entire island of New York City buried in red dots. Each of these dots represents the location of a locksmith. There must be one on every corner and few in between.

The locksmith dots in New York City is an extreme example. However, you will be seeing these annoying little red circles showing up in almost all of your searches in Google maps. Some people are asking what do these red dots mean and what are their significance.

The red dots are a Google "improvement" to Google Maps. And the idea actually makes sense. Prior to the red dots Google only listed the top ten search results. If you were searching for a shoe repair in New York City, Google would return the top ten search results that Google determined to be the most relevant to your search phrase. Of the top ten search results the closest one might be a couple of miles away across town. So you go out and get in a cab and are whisked away to the shoe repair shop. However, what you may not have known was that there was a shoe repair a block and a half away in walking distance in the other direction.

So Google tried to remedy this by introducing the red dots to show other locations. The place markers are still there to show what Google believes to be the top ten listings most relevant to your search. But the red dots are also there to show other business that may be relevant to your search but just not relevant enough to be included in the top ten listings.

This is a real benefit to Google map users in many searches in which they just might want to find the closest shoe repair shop. However, business owners should look at this development a little more closely.

For some people these days Google Maps has replaced the Yellow pages. They do all of their comparative shopping online and Google is the search engine of choice. Potential customers are searching everything on Google. Millions of them. If they want to find a pet groomer there are going to go to Google web or maps and enter "pet groomer + their city". In either search the top ten pet groomers will appear. The maps will display the red dots as well. The important point, dots or not, in most searches the potential customer is really only going to pay attention to the top ten search results. This is where a business should place in the search order if they want to take advantage of the Internet to grow their business and profits.

The good news is that just like websites, map listings can be optimized so that they appear in the top ten search results. Anybody can do it if they know how. Or they can hire a Map SEO which shouldn't be confused with a web SEO.

Is your Google Map Listing in the top ten search results?
It could be. We can help

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Google Patent Has Implications for Small Businesses
Tuesday, May 04, 2010

We've been discussing the importance of being listed in Google Places a lot lately, particularly since the companychanged the name of its Local Business Center to Google Places and added some new features a couple weeks ago. 

How important is Google Places to your business? 

There are a number of 
resources available to assist you in doing so, and Google also launched mobile-optimized versions of Place Pages last week. Bill Slawski at SEO By the Sea points to another interesting nugget, and what he calls a new reason to be listed. It involves Google's Navigation Android App. 

First off, features of Google Navigation include: 

- Search in plain English (as opposed to address)
- Traffic View
- Satellite View
- Car Dock Mode
- Search by voice
- Search along route
- Street View

Videos demonstrating each of these features, as well as a screenshot gallery, can be found 

What Slawski points to is a patent filing from Google, which seems to hint at additional features that would use info from your contact lists, Calendars, and task lists. Slawski explains: 

For instance, you set up a task list on your smart phone to visit a new client, and then pick up stamps and mail out letters, drop off drycleaning, and go grocery shopping. You’ve also added the new client’s address to your personal information system contact list and calendar. 

You have your phone set up to use Google Navigator as a GPS system for your car. The navigation system shows you where your client’s office is located on the map you’re following, and also shows you icons for nearby post offices, drycleaning shops, and shopping centers.

There's no guarantee that this will come to fruition, but as Slawski notes, it seems like a pretty reasonable addition to the app. Google Maps already has 
the nearby places feature

If you'd like to take a look at the actual patent filing, you can do so 

It's something to keep in mind, but really being listed here is a no-brainer anyway. Just think about how many people use Google, and increasingly so from their mobile devices. 

On a related note, Google 
expanded its Tag advertising feature into more cities. 

Introducing Google Places

4/20/2010 05:00:00 AM
Today the Local Business Center is becoming Google Places. Why? Millions of people use Google every day to find places in the real world, and we want to better connect Place Pages — the way that businesses are being found today — with the tool that enables business owners to manage their presence on Google.

We launched Place Pages last September for more than 50 million places around the world to help people make more informed decisions about where to go, from restaurants and hotels to dry cleaners and bike shops, as well as non-business places like museums, schools and parks. Place Pages connect people to information from the best sources across the web, displaying photos, reviews and essential facts, as well as real-time updates and offers from business owners.

Four million businesses have already claimed their Place Page on Google through the Local Business Center, which enables them to verify and supplement their business information to include hours of operation, photos, videos, coupons, product offerings and more. It also lets them communicate with customers and get insights that help them make smart business decisions.

Google Places will continue to offer these same tools, but the new name will simplify the connection with Place Pages. This reflects our ongoing commitment to providing business owners with powerful yet easy-to-use tools.

We're also introducing several new features:
  • Service areas: If you travel to serve customers, you can now show which geographic areas you serve. And if you run a business without a storefront or office location, you can now make your address private.
  • A new, simple way to advertise: For just $25 per month, businesses in select cities can make their listings stand out on and Google Maps with Tags. As of today, we’re rolling out Tags to three new cities — Austin, Atlanta and Washington, D.C. — in addition to ongoing availability in Houston and San Jose, CA. In the coming weeks we'll also be introducing Tags in Chicago, San Diego, Seattle, Boulder and San Francisco.
  • Business photo shoots: In addition to uploading their own photos, businesses in select cities can now request a free photo shoot of the interior of their business which we'll use to supplement existing photos of businesses on Place Pages. We've been experimenting with this over the past few months, and now have created a site for businesses to learn more and express their interest in participating.
  • Customized QR codes: From the dashboard page of Google Places, businesses in the U.S. can download a QR code that’s unique to their business, directly from their dashboard page. 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 that business.
  • Favorite Places: We're doing a second round of our Favorite Places program, and are mailing window decals to 50,000 businesses around the U.S. 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.
Over the past few months we've also added the ability for business owners to post real-time updates to their Place Page. You might want to promote a sale, a special event 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.

To keep track of how your business listing is performing on Google, we offer a personalized dashboard within Google Places that includes data about 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.

One out of five searches on Google are related to location, and we want to make sure that businesses are able to be found and put their best foot forward. We’re excited to announce Google Places today, as it’s just the beginning of what’s to come from our efforts to make Google more local. If you want to learn more about Google Places, we’d like to invite you to an upcoming overview webinar, or you can visit our newly updated Help Center. We’ll also be posting on the Lat Long blog throughout the week to give a deeper dive into many of our newest features. To get started now, go to