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Google Rolls Out Local Tags. Should You Care?

You may remember that in April Google rebranded its Local Business Center to a more succinctly named Google Places [1]. You may also remember that as part of the sprucing, they gave us a look at a brand new ad format coming to help small business owners bring prominence to their 7-pack listing. The ad system was nicknamed Tags, but was only being released to SMBs in eleven cities. If you were discouraged by that, worry not. Last week Google let us know that Tags was now open to small business owners everywhere [2]. The news left some SMBs excited, with others crying out, “wait – Tags? What’s that again?”

If you found yourself in the latter half, fear not. We’re here to help. Below you’ll find a quick rundown of Google’s new ad format, as well as some insight as to why you should care.

If you skimmed over it back in April, Google’s Local Tags gives small business owners a cost-effective way to enhance their listings in Google Maps and Google.com. For $25 a month, SMBs can add a yellow ‘tag’ to their listing that can be used to highlight your business in some way. You can use it to mention a coupon, a sale you’re currently running, a video, your Web site, menu, reservations, photos, etc. Google has also rolled out a new kind of Tag called Posts, that will allow SMBs to include a custom message that they can change as often as they’d like to highlight new promotions.

Here’s an example of how Tags looks in the wild.

Note that participating in the Tags program will not affect your rankings and it will be made clear to searchers which parts are sponsored. Tags will also appear on mobile searches and I’d guess will serve as a great way to promote coupons or other instant savings.

With an affordable price, er, ‘tag’ and easy-to-understand benefits, Tags sound like a great way to bring more exposure to your 7-pack listing. Time will tell how that little yellow arrow affects conversions, but knowing the mentality of most searchers, you have to think that being able to mention coupons, discounts and promotions directly on the search results page is going to help you entice people to click over. You may remember last year when we uncovered how to get the most out of Yelp [3]. In that post, we really recommended that users take advantage of Yelp features like putting coupons and announcements in your listings. It looks like Google was also listening and taking notes.

I think Tags will offer SMBs a cost-effective way to bring more visibility to local listings, offer users a greater value for their click through, as well as get their feet wet with paid advertising What do you think of Tags? Will you take advantage of it? Have you already started seeing Tag’d listings in the search results?