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As if local SERPs weren’t enough, what with Places integration and ever-expanding descriptions, Google is now rolling out City Pages. This new innovation is designed to provide a locals-eye-view of any destination. With inhabitants providing reviews on businesses within the city limits.
This is being rolled out in a few U.S. cities currently (Portland, Austin, Madison and San Diego to be exact), with information built up over a number of months and using a variety of quirky techniques. Essentially the idea is to develop a broad overview of what is actually happening locally, rather than simply relying on algorithms.
Whilst it isn’t clear how far this is likely to spread or the level of depth that it will eventually run to, it’s an interesting exercise for businesses looking to setup a meaningful Places page. Rather than just creating one and leaving it to stagnate, why not develop new ties and work on generating interest amongst the wider community?
This appears to be a key word for Google, community that is. As they look to go hyper-local and provide a better quality of information in provinces around the world, it is key that businesses and consumers all add to the wealth of data available. It also helps to provide a more finite filtering service, helping to ensure locations are family friendly etc.
A local’s guide certainly isn’t without its benefits, particularly if you are visiting somewhere for the first time. You don’t want to be led to the bar that simply appears first on Google, particularly if it really isn’t to your taste. It’s best to get the opinion of those who have experienced a wide array of drinking holes to get a more comprehensive overview. Whilst still no perfect, it’s still not perfect it’s probably a lot better than the mathematical calculations that go into an automated algorithm.
City Pages is just one of the many recent initiatives Google has had within the local search scene in the past week or so. Yesterday James wrote about Picture Location, which allows you to find out more about a picture you’ve taken through search. However, more importantly, Google has also introduced a number of shortcuts within its mobile homepage.
These are designed to help instantly guide people to the top Map results for local coffee houses, bars and eateries. So whilst it is important to feature high up in the current rankings, clearly there is plenty more that local businesses can be doing to further optimise their Places profile. City Pages may well be the first step in helping companies to achieve this.
To find out more visit the Google Small Business Blog.