Just a few weeks ago Google announced it was sunsetting its Google Local Business center and replacing it with the more consumer friendly Google Places, but it also appears to be rolling out a number of updates to its Streetview interface that rely on the previous patent that allowed for virtual placement of markers. This also seems to be a response to Everyscape who offer a similar virtual placement combined with Google Maps free service to businesses to have upto date photos of their store and interior.
The initial results seem to be focused around the free Google Places listings but its possible that some of these might be tied to Google AdWords as it expands. The listings make use a Google generated clickable icons that that enable the viewer to quickly get the businesses contact details, but it is not yet defined in Google Places business listings what portion of your impressions or clicks related to Streetview so it is too early to judge the direct benefit of this feature.
The two examples do show how the markers can be useful when looking for a business location and not having to scan sideways to see the name of the business and you don’t have to go back to the Google Maps view to confirm thats the right business address you found. The only issue that can be flagged is now the importance of correct business details and Google Maps updating its map index more than once every 3-4 weeks as it can actually affect the user experience if the data is outdated and never corrected. The next example shows how big business and franchise can benefit with store locations no longer hidden by parked cars or passing trucks such as the USPS truck covering the Barnes & Nobel storefront.
A side benefit for consumers, tourists and visitors is that the transport options such as Subway lines were previously hidden can now be accurately displayed in relation to the business location. The feedback point is that as shown below there is no ability currently to apply more layers as you can with Google Maps or Google Earth such as transit layers in Google StreetView so the numbers of listings added maybe limited.
The new Google streetview place markers don’t seem to be tied to any particular set of criteria as they show for the following types of listings:
- Public transport
- Big business (Best Buy/Barns & Nobel)
- Owner verified businesses
- Not yet verified by owner businesses
To show that this is not yet a feature that business may have any control over, it appears that a number of the results that we found were for business listings that were still unverified by the business owner, so likely less susceptible to spam. The first result for Restoration Hardware shows that the business has not yet been claimed by the business owner, as with the second result School of the Future High School so are likely sourced direct from Yellowpages listings. But other results such as Gramercy Park Hotel did have a Streetview placemarker but had an owner verified listing so its not just for unverified business locations or big business such as BestBuy or Barnes & Nobel who can get a virtual marker. This types of points we noted in our article around how SEO for Hotels is getting harder with some of the new features that Google is rolling out in the form of paid placement and preferred Google properties showing in the search results.
To see if this was a relevance listing such only those who were listed as the #1 in Google Maps local listings or those who showed up #1 in organic or paid results, we have included the local listing result for a geographic query for each in the screenshots shown below. It would be local from an search optimisation perspective to reward those who are able to rank highly for local or generic queries but this would encourage local seo to likely take advantage of the Google Streetview listings for their clients.
So while the first result showed that Restoration Hardware was #1 in the search results, School of the Future was #7 in the second results but in a test conducted today was no longer a featured in the local business results. So this could indicate that the StreetView may not even be based on an algorithm yet and might just be using Google Map data.
So this seems to be a very strange test that doesn’t seem to depend on any measurable or known selection criteria which makes it harder for agencies and marketers to assist their clients with achieving a virtual page marker in Google Streetview outside having a placemarker on Google Maps as shown above. Have you found any issues getting listed or traffic benefits for your clients with these Streetview placemarkers?