It doesn’t in any way affect a local business ranking in the so-called “7 pack” or on the subsequent Google Maps page. However Google is introducing a new local business ad (“enhanced listings“) that allows a business to stand out with an “enhanced” presence on the map or in the map-related listings on the SERP. It permits local businesses to call attention to something it wants to highlight to customers and/or prospects: a menu, a coupon, a video, for example.
It just went live in two test cities: San Jose CA and Houston Texas. Here’s how Google describes it and its value to local business owners:
When you add an enhancement to your listing, you can highlight what you most want your customers to see.
For example, you can add a coupon for new customers, highlight a video overview of your store, or even link to your menu. You decide what what’s most important about your business and make sure it stands out.
Signing up and selecting your enhancement takes less than 5 minutes. All you need is a verified business listing and a valid credit card — simply visit your LBC Dashboard and look for the link to enhance your listing.
The cost is $25 per month and the business can choose from one of seven types of enhancements, drawn from content in the Local Business Center. The available categories of enhancements include the following:
During the course of the month enhancements can be changed or rotated without paying again. The $25 is a flat recurring monthly fee independent of how many changes are made. And because pictures do a better job of explaining this, here are some screens:
Here’s what it looks like on the map (in the left column and as a yellow icon on the map itself):
When moused over the icon on the map “unfurls” to prompt users to “view photos” in this case. The link clicks through to the local Place Page in this particular example:
Here is the LBC dashboard view:
The pull-down options at the top correspond to content the business owner or agent has already input into the LBC. In a very indirect way this might prompt some to further enhance their LBC listings.
Google assured me, again, that there’s no impact on rankings from this. But it’s the first time to my knowledge that “ads” appear in the “7-Pack.” The program is also totally independent of Local Listing Ads, which are supposed to return at some point this year.
It’s another effort by Google to create a very simple advertising vehicle for local businesses. This is partly Google’s idea and partly the result of grass roots feedback Google received from business owners.