Over the past couple of months I’ve been spending as much time figuring out trends and local visualization of Google Places (the the incorporation of Places oriented and influenced results) within Google listings. Simply stated, the localization of Google has led to a user in Miami, FL seeing totally different results than a user in Cleveland, OH or San Diego, CA.
For the most part, traditional rankings or Google SERPS are still the base core of the Google Results, but on a local level, Google Places results AND the web results from local businesses have made their way into Universal SERPS, and in some instances, knocking a “core” #2 or #3 well below the fold into a #7 or #10 level.
I’ve previously written about Google Places issues, false positives and the incorporation of User Generated Content into Google Places results via Google Hotpot, but this time, I’ve found some very interesting examples of businesses that are being highlighted in Google Places that have no permanent location nor do they actually have a location. It seems that after doing some targeted searches for several local terms, that Google Places is considering vending machines as local locations.
Now whether the Google Places results for vending machines mirrors the modern choices and the transition of established brick & mortars into outdooor businesses. I mean, haven’t lunch trucks been ALL OVER Food Network lately? Let’s take a look :)
Redbox is a chain of video rental vending machines that along with OnDemand and NetFlix, drove the traditional video store model to extinction. When searching Google, Redbox places appear for their brand name and for “video stores”, but without permanent real estate or on-location employees.
Zooming into one of the location results, we see that the Redbox is located at 13151 Race Track Road, Tampa, FL, the address of a 7 Eleven.
What’s interesting is that although these are vending machines, they are ranking for terms like “video stores” and “video rentals”.
Taking a page out of the Redbox book, Citibank has altered its business model to be much more of a kiosk model in many areas in the US, and consolidating branches into versatile ATM stations which are convenient and carry the trusted name of Citibank. I had originally ran into this issue years ago when searching for a Citibank in my area for an International deposit. I was new to town, and after finding Citibank locations listed in Google, I ended up driving to a 7 Eleven.
This still holds true today, in fact, a search for Citibank in my area leads me to a familiar address : 13151 Race Track Road, Tampa, FL!
Google must be sending this 7 Eleven A LOT of business!
I was thinking of other vending machines (no, a search for Coke or Pepsi did not result in Google Places listings) so started brainstorming around other semi-businesses in the form of machines that lease spaces outside or inside of other stores. Here’s a Coinstar that’s located in a grocery store :
Other Kiosks & Machines?
Does this mean that vending machine based companies are taking advantage of Google Places? Of course not.
In fact, these are all thriving businesses that people are more than likely searching for or engaging with using Google. And given the direction of the video rental business (that is, actually renting DVD’s in person vs. downloading movies on iTunes, Netflix or your cable company) to Redbox and other vending machines vs. traditional stores, it makes sense for businesses to look into optimizing for local search and getting these Places pages authorized even if they are not permanent locations.
Kiosks, booths and other seasonal pop-ups [Christmas tree or decorations stores that pop-up in November] are all good examples – especially if Google can serve seasonal results based on trending.
I would also suggest :
- Setting up a Foursquare, Google Latitude or Facebook Places account for physical checkins & specials (this is great social proof that a location actually exists)
- Setting up a Yelp profile and other local profiles such as Citysearch and other local directory listings. These also serve as proof that your location exists and are aggregated by Google Places.
Stumbling across some of these results, especially the Redbox ones, which are dominating keyterms in Places and not just branded searches, really got me thinking … what other opportunities are there?
When I search for “photo printing” the results are all traditional B2B printing and copying centers, but not the Kodak or Fuji kiosks that are available in CVS or Walgreens that regular people use to print their photos daily. Do these photo kiosks deserve Places?
Can you find other examples of vending machines or kiosks being indexed and served in Google Places? What about locations that deserve to be listed but are not? If so, please share them in the comments below.
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