Google’s been on a bit of a “new feature” kick this week. So far this week heard about real-time search, personalized search, Google CEO Eric Schmidt’s thoughts on Internet ‘privacy’, and news about Google’s new mobile search service. As you can see, there’s lots of new Google stuff to report on, however, it’s the latter that I want to focus on today – most specifically what a new mobile search system from Google could mean for your small business.
Google’s new mobile initiative is rooted in three main parts:
- Search by Voice: Released last year and gives customers a way to search Google via voice recognition.This week’s big news is that it now supports Japanese.
- Search by Location: Designed to answer the question, “What’s around here, anyway”, Google Maps for Android will focus on helping people find the places and businesses in their immediate vicinity. It will also be able to provide information about whether requested products are in stock, assuming the business is willing to share inventory data.
- Search by Sight: This is perhaps the most interesting component of Google’s announcement. Google Goggles is an image search application developed for the Android phone that allows you to search for an object or business via image, rather than text. Basically, you take a photo of whatever you’re interested in/looking at and Google will attempt to locate it and give you information on what you’re seeing. They’re hoping to use it to provide landmark information, local business info, product search, etc. Obviously it’s still in its infancy, but if you’re currently using an Android phone it’s worth at least playing with.
Outside of the main mobile search announcement, Google also revealed that they’ll be experimenting with QR codes for Favorite Places on Google. The search engine will send out more than 100,000 QR barcode decals for business owners in the US to place on their windows (similar to how you’d see a Zagat sticker). When a prospective customer sees the decal on your window they can use their smart phone to scan the barcode to access business information, customer ratings and any specials you may be running [mobile coupons, anyone?]. It’s another way to encourage natural foot traffic to take that step to out of the cold and come in and check you out.
I found all of Google’s local-based announcements really interesting this week. They’re making obvious moves to make local and mobile search data more sensor-rich and accessible for users. And of course, they’re going to be pushing people into the Google Android devices pretty much anyway they can. Still, it will be neat to see how mobile applications start to shape local search and how businesses owners will be able to take advantage of them. I’m also curious to see how these bar codes may take off and the education process that will be associated with them.
As always, if you want to make yourself eligible for a Favorite Places QR decal or ensure that Google’s bringing up your business when customers do a search for location, you must claim and completely fill out your Google Local Business Listing. But you already knew that part was coming, didn’t you?