Would you like to have a photographer come to your business and take pictures for your local search listing on Google? If you are a business in Orange County, CA; SF Bay Area; St. Petersburg, FL; San Antonio, TX; or Phoenix, AZ, your wish has come true. Google's Marissa Mayer formally announced Google Business Photos this week. As part of this new test program, business owners located in the above test cities can apply to have a Google photographer come to take pictures of their business.
Google clearly sees local search as a revenue growth potential. It has heavy local search competition from Yelp, Facebook, Foursquare, and many other local-focused sites and services. Google is currently offering business photos for free to businesses in an effort to improve the search engine's local listings. More information on this new program can be found in the following video from Google.
As the use of local search grows, it is important that businesses work to optimize for local search. We recently suggested 5 key steps for optimizing for Google Places. However, optimization isn't enough. Ask customers which tools they've used to find your business. Additionally, set a plan for testing other strategies to attract new customers using new platforms such as group couponing and location-based social networks.
The important distinction to make is that your current customers already know how to find you. In this case, it is your job to develop relationships with them through email, blogging, and social media to encourage them to keep coming back. On the other hand, if you need to focus on attracting new customers, consider using location-based tools in an effort to attract people who do not yet know about your business.
What do you think about Google taking business pictures for free?