In 2009, Google launched Google Places which allows users to rate and review places and make recommendations to friends. For business owners, Google Places gives businesses the option to “claim” their business. What the hell does that mean? Well, it means business owners can verify the information listed for their company and once this is done, they can update it with photos, links, and offers. The more content rich your listing is, the more prominent your organic ranking is. This is especially of interest to small businesses that rely on Google search engines to gain exposure. For users on the go, Google offers a convenient mobile application supports iPhone and Android devices. As an avid user of foursquare, Yelp, and now Google Places (on my iPhone of course), I am ready to give you the rundown on whether this app is worth using.
After downloading the app, the first prompt you’ll get is whether you’ll allow geotagging to detect nearby places. After clicking yes, you are brought to the main screen which is broken up into 10 initial categories: Saved places, Restaurants, Coffee (who knew it needed its own category), Bars, ATMs, Gas Stations, Hotels, Attractions, Pizza, and Post Office.
How It Works:
Once you click on one of the categories, for example, Coffee, it brings up nearby business listings in that category and shows what it is currently ranked. Once you choose one of the businesses, it will bring you to another screen that allows you rate and review it.
The Google Places app offers a great feature when you search for a place you can’t see listed. At the top of the screen, if I type in a place such as Target or the yummy Chinese spot up the street, it saves your search and automatically creates an icon on your Google Places interface. What is also cool about this is that if you tap and hold on the business for a few seconds, similar to iPhone apps, you can delete it. It is kind of like having apps within apps. It made me smile.
What first struck me about the main page is how it eerily resembles the Yelp interface (see photo). The Google Places app itself does not offer any options for business owners to “verify” their business. It seems inconvenient for businesses that the app is so focused on the end user and doesn’t offer any options for them. Although I prefer the GP interface itself over Yelp’s, I think it sucks that users can’t upload photos as a part of the business (on Yelp you can). I understand that this is meant to give more control for owners but seriously, if I am having a droolworthy dinner at my favorite restaurant, I want to share those pictures with the world. Also, wouldn’t businesses want more interaction with their users that way? It would make their image seem much more personable I say.
In A Nutshell
The idea of it is nice, it really is. I want to love it so bad because it’s Google and I love everything from them but it’s boring. It doesn’t have nearly enough features to keep me interested as an end user. Businesses benefit more from the overall business model but the mobile app itself is too focused on the end user. It’s a tough balance to find in terms of business and user benefits and Google needs to keep looking for it.
Relevant Links /Additional Information http://www.google.com/local/add/analyticsSplashPage?utm_campaign=en&utm_medium=et&utm_source=et-glbl-places-htpt_mbl&pli=1 http://www.google.com/places/ http://www.inc.com/guides/201106/how-to-use-google-places-to-market-your-business.html http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/google-places/id406513617?mt=8