Google photographs the inside of businesses to enhance its geolocation services

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The Independent Online

Google will be travelling to businesses across the world, taking panoramic photos of their interior and uploading them to the web as part of their enhanced Google Places geolocation offering.

On April 20 Google announced they were changing the name of their Local Business Center to Google Places and updating it with a range of new features, including free business photo shoots for companies interested in opening their doors to prying internet surfers.

Google is also implementing additional Place Page features in an attempt to make the web more local.

Some of the initiatives Google is proposing include customized QR codes (a unique barcode that links to the Google Place Page when read by a mobile phone), real-time updates that let businesses communicate directly with their customers, and $25-per-month advertising for businesses that want to stand out on Google Maps.

More than 4 million companies claimed their Google "Place Pages" in September 2009 when Google first launched their "informed decisions" geolocation service.

Google's Place Pages now span in excess of 50 million places across the globe, from restaurants to hotels to museums and favorite hotspots.

Each Place Page is constantly updated with practical information sourced from "the best places across the web" and supplemented with information given by business owners. Google's Place Pages show important information about the places like opening times, phone numbers, photos, reviews and offers from business owners.

Google has been increasing its local search and listings after the internet giant failed to acquire geo-location business review company Yelp in December 2009.

Location-aware mapping and review features are starting to pop up all over the place as companies realize the power of location-based advertising.

Twitter has been working on providing geolocation information in people's tweets, Facebook is offering local businesses ways to advertise to consumers in their local vicinity and location-aware mobile ads are becoming the next big advertising trend.

More information about Google Places can be found at the Google Places website, http://google.com/places, or on Google's blog, http://googleblog.blogspot.com.

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