Sunday, January 30, 2011

Will Google Places be an Internet Marketing game-changer in 2011?

Right when many internet marketers, hopeful bloggers and most anyone with a moderate interest in Search Engine Optimization feel they have some basic understanding of Google, the wizards of Mountain View turn the tables by developing something new and radically different. 

Showing up in November, Google Places has redrawn the search results page landscape by listing the top local businesses listed in Google with pinpoints on a map which has now shifted to the right-hand column. 

In the main organic column you'll see the listings for the pinpoints on the map. Several listings can still make it above these listings but that can be sacred ground for search results, as Google has put a stronger influence on its new places environment.

While the number of the new Places set up may vary, I believe the new magic number is 7 - the maximum number allowed. 

But wait there's more, Google Tags. Here's a neat way to add interactive call-outs that can feature one element such a as video, menu or a Web site link. Are Google Tags worth the $25 per month? Try a few months and see how your results turn out. 

So why has Google done this? Take a look around, it makes sense. Mobile internet is no longer wishful thinking, it's taking shape now. In fact twice as many people across the globe access the internet from a mobile devise than a computer. And local listings are becoming huge focal points for the mobile internet.

Besides, how else can Google keep up with Twitter and Facebook? There are some serious competitive rumblings happening since Facebook took over Google as the most used internet Web environment. Plus with Twitter now offering more mobile capabilities, the mobile market is white hot for those who can establish a strong brand.

So what should you do next? 
To avoid being left behind and losing a competitive footing, start your local/mobile marketing planning now for 2011. You don't need to start over, just enhance what you're doing. Here are three free, easy-to-start today, take-aways...

1) Mini-size it
Remember portable devices have a limited viewing area, so refine your mobile presence. Keep graphics and content simple. I hate to say this as a writer, but cut back your copy 30% , then cut it another 20%.
2) Keep it simple
No one likes complexity when you're having to type with the very tips of your fingers or scrolling with one of those little "scrolling things". So make sure your navigation is super simple. In other words make every possible path -- a happy path.  

3) Try an app
Don't be afraid. Create an idea or two that takes your brand somewhere new. Then find an app developer. It's less expensive than you think. And resources are out there ready to help. Plus how cool would it be to tell your customers about your new iPhone or Android application!