Google Places and the Future

The Google Lat Long Blog has formally announced the changes to Places that we saw roll out earlier in the day with their normal happy talk:
Making constant tweaks and adjustments to our user interfaces and overall user experience have always been the norm at Google, and you may have recently heard about our renewed effort across all Google products to make the user experience more focused, elastic and effortless. Changes have already started to appear on Google Maps, and we’ve now simplified our Place pages across desktop and mobile devices as well.

But there was one thing that was unique in today’s post about the change that departed from the past. For the first time that I can remember Google has provided, even if guarded and vague, some clue about the future direction of Places:

Beyond today’s transition, our long-term vision for local search includes:
  • Bringing you more personalized results when you search for local places — because we understand that information from the people you know is most meaningful;
  • Integrating some of the great information that’s been buried on Place pages into your web search experience across all Google platforms;
  • Giving you more ways to rate, discover and share places you love faster and easier than ever, wherever you are, and on whichever device you choose.

I would be curious your interpretations and tea readings of the above… On what other platforms would Places data make sense? How many different ways can you write a review faster?

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
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14 thoughts on “Google Places and the Future”

  1. WRT integrating “information that’s been buried on Place pages … across all Google platforms” the first thing that comes to mind is coupons/offers. I can see how they would integrate offers more widely.

    For example, anytime I do something that indicates my location to Google (post on Google+, check in with Latitude, leave a review in Places, do a search from the main web search, etc.) they could now show me “Offers Nearby” similar to how Foursquare does it. The big difference between Foursquare and Google, of course, is that Google’s audience is magnitudes greater (especially considering main web search).

    I guess they could also integrate “photos from nearby businesses” in the image search results and “videos from nearby businesses” in video results and YouTube, but that doesn’t seem as natural of a fit.

  2. I agree with Jim that this will allow to more personalize offers/ads/coupons
    to you when you are on Google and I also believe that this is the first wave of how Google products will ingrate with Google+.

    You now have the option to upload photos of a business and I believe Google will show your pictures of that business to your friends. How does Google know who your friends are… they are in your circles.

    So in time if you do a search for “Mexican food Chicago” you will be able to see the places that your friends have reviewed, taken pictures of and mentioned on Google+.

    So Google places will be the “hub” of info beyond anything yelp can give.

    1. I wonder if geotagged photos from G+ will find their way back to Places? and vice versa… they sure seem to be encouraging user photos with the new layout.

  3. @Jim
    coupons is a good one… that is surely buried! Likewise the “share an update” is data that never really sees the light of day.

  4. My guess re the integration:

    – Photos and videos in local search results (the same way they appear in the organic)
    – The “share” in the “news” for local search results and/or discussions or even on plus
    – maybe some integration of Places and Shopping and Offers

  5. FWIW, we have been seeing 15 photos in our Places listing for a couple of weeks (I had thought max was 10?). Several of them are geotagged photos imported from Panoramio (interestingly, geotagged Flickr photos did not make it in), so I suspect we may see more of this…

  6. @Heather
    YOU have a 10 photo limit but users and 3rd party sites are also sources of photos and they have no limit that we know of.

    It makes sense if they are soliciting images that they would use them more broadly… same with reviews.

  7. Bringing you more personalized results when you search for local places — because we understand that information from the people you know is most meaningful;

    I completely disagree with this assumption and Google has me dead wrong on this. I read reviews to see what people I DON’T know think about a business. I already know if my mother, my Aunt Florida and my Uncle Wiggly think about a restaurant they ate at, a hotel where they stayed, a store where they shopped. They phoned me and told me about it.

    I sense the feel-good theory of Social Media ruling this assumption. Excuse me, but if I have 500 followers on Twitter whom I don’t actually know in person, why would I feel that their opinions are of more value to me than those of total strangers. For example, let’s say I’m a local SEO who is a vegan. Every one of my ‘friends’ dines upon mutton for dinner. The fact that they love Mike’s Mutton Emporium is totally immaterial to me. Their opinions AREN’T important to me if I want to find a restaurant, and people whom I actually know, on a meaningful level, are not going to recommend I eat at Mike’s Mutton Emporium.

    Just because you may chat with your ‘friends’ online about work, scrapbooking or souping up old cars does NOT mean you share their core values in your day to day life, and believing that you do is an illusion.

    So, anyway, unless your social circle on the web is actually only made up of your real-word chums and family, I think the idea of personalizing results on the basis of suggestions from hundreds of people with whom you share a given interest but not a whole life is, at best, faulty.

    My 2 pesos.

  8. FWIW, Google seems heavily reliant on Panoramio photos here in Brazil even for uncompetitive queries…I suspect it’s because there are far fewer “traditional” sources of confirming business data to rely on. So that’s a good guess.

    Mike, I just think that
    “Bringing you more personalized results when you search for local places — because we understand that information from the people you know is most meaningful;”

    means that we’ll see Google+ and former-Hotpot-now-Places-friends ratings showing up more and more that “so-and-so rated this place 4 stars”…kind of like Facebook has “Joe, Mary, and Bob all like this on Facebook.”

  9. I agree with Mike that the geotagged pictures (from Flickr for example) and videos (YouTube, etc) will find their way back. They were pretty cool addition to the listings when the geodata was actually visible. I remember one business with 10 videos in the Place page. This was very good for clubs that have live music shows recordings.

  10. Im with Miriam Ellis. Some people may be my friends but I dont agree with their opinions about many things. I certainly dont want their preferences influencing the information that I am given to make my ‘informed’ choice!

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