Google’s less popular new toys

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Google Wave and Google Squared have both received a lot of attention in the last few weeks, and so they should. They both represent new and interesting ways for people to generate and consume content through an easily accessible web based platform. In all of this, there are two other recent innovations that have almost completely escaped notice: Google’s Local Business Centre and Google’s new Search Options Panel.

Google Local Business Centre
A great tool for any business that has multiple locations to manage within Google’s local business listings. The ability to quickly and easily review all listings, and edit a listing’s details is a huge improvement. The ability to add video, photos and coupons to Business listings on Google Maps more easily is significant. Whilst issues regarding ownership and hijacked listings will not disappear overnight, Google’s Local Business Centre will help medium to small organisations address these problems more effectively.

Search Options Panel
The Google Search Options link near the top of every SERP might not have a huge impact on who holds the number one spot in the main results, but it will make content that is normally buried more visible. For organisations with a strong brand, but without the resources needed to generate huge volumes of content, this is something to watch. Control over the name space of a brand becomes more important once user generated content such as reviews, forum posts and videos become more easily accessible to the casual searcher. Personally I expect to hear a lot more from individuals and businesses that specialise in online reputation management in the next year as user generated content such as this becomes even more visible.

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