Posted to Ben Finklea's blog on November 1st, 2010

Local Search Gets a Google “Boost”

Do you run a local business? Does it have a strong online presence? Recent research shows that 97% of people conduct research online before buying locally. What information about your business is out there for people to research on? If you are grasping for straws, it may be time for a “boost” from Google.

Google once again attempts to level the playing field for internet-savvy local businesses with its latest product launch, Boost. Boost is a location-based ad product built on Google Places. Boost is currently in beta for San Francisco, Houston and Chicago, with plans to roll out for more cities soon.

Boost ads show up in the “sponsored links” section of Google search and Map results when users search for local businesses. There is one tiny catch: the right combination of keywords must be queried in order for the ads to appear. This combination must be a type of business (e.g., “mexican restaurant”, “toy store”, “guitar repair shop”) and a location keyword (e.g., “Austin”, “Atlanta”, “Marfa”).

Before you can get a ‘boost’, you need to have a Google Places account. Hopefully you have gone to Google Places to set up your free business listing that appears in Google and Google Maps, which enables you to share your business information online - such as hours of operations, photos, and videos.

How to Set Up Your Boost Account

Any business owner can create their own Boost ad from within their Google Places account. Setting it up is simple, and campaign management is automatic. All you have to do is set your budget, and Google takes care of the placement and frequency details.

The new boost ads contain the basic information of a business: business name, address, phone number, ratings, reviews, and a special map marker.

Here is a Boost ad in action for the beta market, San Francisco. The blue marker indicates the advertised business:

The advantage of having a Google boost ad is the highly qualified audience that this service captures. The consumers who read your ad will not only be actively looking for your business, but highly interested in your services.

This isn’t a magic bullet, but it does take what Google Places has begun and builds on the service for any local business who needs a help in paid search against businesses with goliath ad budgets. Google has been focused on local and location-based information of late. This is a great sign for all the ‘Davids’ out there. We may be able to thank Google’s new location and local services chief, Marissa Mayer. Thanks Marissa! Image courtesy of Flickr.

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