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Google maps is probably one of the most popular of the online map services, and ever since the introduction of street view, using it’s cars with special mounted multi-directional cameras (see the Google car spotted in Knutsford), it’s popularity has increased furthermore. I for one like to use it prior to visiting places I haven’t been before, as it’s much easier when looking for potential parking spaces etc. Other people have described how they have used it to check out areas before buying houses, and other people just like to have a bit of a nose around!
You may or may not have noticed the introduction of business annotations now appearing in the street view, see the screenshot of the “Hilton Manchester Deansgate” annotation below:
At the moment clicking on this listing doesn’t do very much, however if you return to the normal map view you can see that it has opened up the business listing details:
This suggests that Google are in the process of adding business listings into the street view, enabling users to be able to click on businesses and find out more information (such as reviews, contact details etc) as they navigate around the city. Eventually you could imagine this working like a kind of “augmented reality” application! You could be navigating around a city or town, see a place that you like and just click to find out more information about it. Very cool.
So what does this mean for business owners? It means that once again more emphasis is going to be placed upon local search and Google business centre listings. I think that businesses such as bars, restaurants, tourist attractions etc in particular would benefit from making sure that they have a solid listing in order to capitalise on this functionality when it finally comes into place.
A lot of people ask how you get the “permanent listing” in the grey box style on Google maps. Well this is the result of a combination of things. Firstly it depends on your type of business, so businesses that are less likely to “change location” are more likely to be featured in this way. Also, Google cross references it’s own data with other providers and trusted directories, so making sure you’re listed in all the relevant business directories (and of course having the same details in each listing!) will certainly help.
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