When you're hungry, don't feel like cooking and have some cash in your pocket, what's the first thing you do? Likely type "pizza delivery" into Google's search bar and see what comes up. But sometimes, this hunt for a pizza place can turn into an annoying goose chase for both some place that doesn't have a name like "Pizza Express" and one that is close enough to deliver.
According to Google, one out of five searches on the search engine are related to location and so the company is taking a step further in that direction. Google Places is primarily a merging of its Local Business Center with its Place Pages, of which there are more than 50 million.
And as for that pizza delivery? Google will be offering businesses the ability to define their service areas, allowing them to show customers which geographic areas they serve. That, coupled with real-time updates, should allow for some interesting uses of Google with not only delivery services, but completely mobile vendors and other such businesses.
Our other favorite new feature offered by Google Places is its customized QR codes, which allows businesses to download and share QR codes in any number of ways. When someone scans one of these codes with their phone, they'll immediately be taken to the mobile Place Page for that business.
In addition to these new features, Google will continue taking its Street View into stores and sending out window decals to "Favorite Places". It is also expanding its Tags advertising program to three new cities - Austin, Atlanta and Washington, D.C.
And finally, Google is offering a reporting dashboard to help businesses find out how their customers are finding them on the Web. Not only does it provide standard analytics, but it shows where the searches are originating from, which may be the best part yet. Our favorite part out of all of this, however, has to be the service areas and the QR codes. With these two tools, a mobile business can constantly keep in touch with its customers and appear in searches as it moves about the country.