From now on, you'll see this every time you search for a place, business, or other local information. In addition to providing the basic contact information and map locations for several choices at the top of the page, we also show ratings and provide one-click access to reviews on the search results page so that you can make more informed decisions about where you want to go.
The ability for local businesses to harness the power of the Internet has been a growing trend for years now. However the problem was always the same. Either they didn't want to do eCommerce or their business wasn't suited to eCommerce or they didn't know how to get people to view their web site if they invested the dollars into building it.
There was nothing I could do for the first problem, either you wanted and could do eCommerce or you couldn't. However for a few years I worked around the second one by utilizing local offline advertising outlets to advertise a client's site. This worked well and still continues to be a tool in the box for promoting a local site or for a business with a local only business.
However with this new feature, Google, which is arguably the best search engine, is making the ability of people doing local searches to find a business without spending piles of money in pay to click advertising. Now the announcement doesn't say it will specifically list a URL of the company's web site, but if it doesn't do it now I am confident it will soon. Google will begin listing this URL for some type of fee and the rest will be history.
For a local business this is very powerful. You could advertise in the Yellow Pages and for a large color advertisement pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars per month, but now with this tool you can create even more powerful advertising, i.e. color pages, photos, testimonials, product or service information, etc. for a fraction of the cost of putting even a limited amount of this info in the Yellow Pages. Now that is power.
While I use and still advocate traditional advertising channels like direct mail and others I also tell clients the flexibility of being able to add or change your "advertisements" on the web per se and still have it be in full color with all the power of full multi-media features like video, audio, etc. is really incredible for the small business. Add the new feature from Google and small and even medium sized businesses have capabilities that only very large companies with big marketing budgets had 15 years ago.