Google 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.
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.