Google Dangles Carrots in Front of Small Biz Owners

Filed in Featured, Google, Local Search by Matt McGee on September 2, 2010 5 Comments

googleGoogle made two announcements this week that, while not being targeted toward small business owners (yet?), essentially serve as a dangling carrot for future local search visibility. One is about better visibility on Google Maps; the other is about expanding the availability of product inventory listings in Google’s search results. So, whether you’re a service-based or a product-based small business, these are future opportunities worth watching.

Business Logos on Google Maps

Google calls this “sponsored map icons.” Businesses can pay to have their logo show up on Google Maps, replacing Google’s generic gray graphics. There’s no doubt it stands out amongst the otherwise bland colors, but that may not be the case when a lot of businesses are putting their logos on the map.

Google Maps

For now, this is only available to a limited set of U.S. companies “with multiple locations and a well-known brand.” But it doesn’t seem too much of a stretch to see this expanding into something that any local advertiser can do. AdWords users who target locally have already been able to show an icon when their ad appears on the map. Today, if you’re using Google Tags, the yellow icon shows next to your red map marker … so you have to assume Google can and will make Sponsored Map Icons more widely available. And that could be a good thing for local businesses with a recognizable identity/logo.

Product Inventory in Search Results

Google’s been doing this on a limited basis for a few months now, but just this week expanded it for wider adoption. In Google’s search results, the red map marker shows up with an “In stock nearby” message.


In order to take part in this, there are some technical/feed-related guidelines that have to be met. There’s help documentation you can read, and an interest form if you want to apply to get involved.

Two interesting announcements this week, signs of things to come, I believe.

Comments (5)

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  1. I really don’t get the whole sponsored maps thing. It’s totally untargeted, and away from the general search results.

    For example, if you’re searching for a pizza place in ny, you’re not going to just pull up a map of ny and browse around until you see a (colorful) map icon. You’ll actually search for “pizza ny,” and google will deliver the 10 most relevant pizza results in your area, arranged by relevance. if you need to tighten the area, just zoom in, and google will recalculate relevant results for you, with pop up balloons on the map.

    I discussed this more in depth on my blog yesterday, but in general, I think this test is exactly that – just a test, and I’ll be surprised if it catches on. I’m not going to recommend this to any of my clients when it becomes generally available, unless it undergoes some serious changes.

  2. when i say sponsored maps, i mean sponsored maps icons.

  3. MaryJohn says:

    I tried using google inventory listing with very little success but worked great when I had my products listed via eBay and Amazon-Come to think of it -eBay has a phone now-soon they will be manufacturing something if they are not already!

  4. Jason says:

    It would be a great thing for small business since I am a small business owner. it’s in test mode for the time being but would like to see what the future brings to my business.

  5. Samuel says:

    The first thing that pops into my head with this is how maps can all of a sudden get cluttered, especially in urban, densely populated areas.

    I think this should be in extended beta with free listings up to a certain number so we can all see how it would be applied.

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