Google in 2010: A Focus on Google Places Algorithm

Google Places Algorithm

Do you remember what you were doing on April 1st, 2010? Was it your graduation year, were you getting hitched, or maybe you were you one of those fated vacationers about to be stranded by the dreaded Icelandic volcanic ash cloud of gloom?

Whatever you were doing on that day 8 years ago, Google was tinkering with their algorithms again, and it was no April Fools prank. On April 1st, 2010, the Google Places algorithm was revealed.

Before Google My Business, there was Google Places. Travel through time with us into Google history as we walk you through everything you need to know about the Google Places algorithm.

How It Started

The Google My Business that we know today started life as the love child of Google Local Business Center and Places Pages. Originally rolled out as part of Google Maps in September 2009, in April 2010 Google Places was a boon for businesses.

As the Local Business Center and Places Pages combined their strengths into Google Places, businesses suddenly became even more visible in user searches for their area. This was a gamechanger for local SEO (search engine optimization) and took marketing to another level.

SEO Empowers Businesses – The Tale of Molly Munroe

For a closer look, let’s visit with Molly Munroe, maker of the best cookies in town. Her ooey-gooey cookies with the melting chocolate chips and crisp edges had the potential to draw crowds from all over her state, but there was a problem.

How would new customers hear about this awesome bakery with the out-of-this-world cookies they never knew they needed in their lives? And once they heard, how would they be able to find her, or know the areas she serviced?

When Google Places launched, Molly registered with them straight away. Suddenly she was visible to anyone using Google to search her local area, and the customers started spilling in.

With business booming, Molly decided to develop new cookie flavors for a ‘cookie of the month’ special, and orders went through the roof. Ah, look at the grin on her face – Molly was pleased as punch with this latest of Google algorithm updates.

Upgrades Built into the Google Places Algorithm

As we leave Molly, remember what the list of Google updates meant for her business. With the ability to harness the power of this new Google algorithm update, Molly was able to get on the map, grow her business and tailor her marketing strategy.

So, what were some of the upgrades when Google Local Business Center was rebranded as Google Places? Let’s take a look.

Geographic Range

Owners could now add the areas that they serviced to their business information. This upgrade meant that customers now knew whether or not a business delivered to or operated in their local area.

And businesses with no physical location were now able to hide their location, which wasn’t possible before.

Remember Molly’s business? Molly told us that she used a delivery service to get her delicious cookies into the hands of eager customers in a few different areas. But the problem was, not many people knew which areas those were.

With the new list of Google algorithm updates, Molly could add her service areas to her business information, which meant customers knew just where her cookies were available, and how to get them.


2010 saw the introduction of tags, a nice $25-a-month addition in the algorithm. Tags allowed business owners to show customers selected deals and offers, highlighted by a little yellow tag on the SERP (search engine results page).

Molly used tags to highlight her ‘cookie of the month’ promotional offer. Tags helped to increase customer awareness and were key in making the concept a success.

In-Store Photos

The addition of customized store photos in the Google timeline started here, back in 2010. Stores were now able to show new customers their insides – what the store looked like, how it was set up and what it sold.

Molly used this feature to add photos to her business information. This allowed new customers to take a gander at her beautiful store before they set foot inside, and it also helped them spot her store as they drove by it.

Molly loved the addition of photos because now her gorgeous store had its own voice. The work she’d put into the presentation of her store and her cookies was now visible for all the world to see.

Personalized QR Codes

This time travel lark is pretty fun, right? Like, can you believe it’s been nearly 10 years since QR codes took off in a big way? As QR codes gained popularity, Google found a way to work them into its algorithm.

Molly figured out that if she added QR codes to the mix, she had the potential to help her customers save her business info. But that’s not all.

Not only could customers old and new save her details, but because QR codes are so shareable, they could pass them on, too. Molly realized that once her personalized QR codes got out, they’d be pinging all over the place.

User and Search Information

Something business owners should never take for granted is the information gleaned from user searches. This 2010 Google algorithm update helped businesses see who was searching for them, how they did it and from where.

Molly loved this addition the most because now she could work out who was searching for her cookies! It helped her get to know her customers better.

She realized that the fame of her cookies had spread across state boundaries, so people that were visiting the local amusement park were specifically stopping at her store along the way.

Armed with that information, Molly worked on a selection of cookies especially for kids, which sealed the deal on her business success.

Back to the Future

With our feet firmly back in 2018, we can look back at how far the Google Places algorithm has come, having been transformed into the Google My Business we know and love today.

Starting off as a feature on Google Maps, Google Places has been key in helping businesses harness the power of local SEO and grow. Local advertising got the boost it needed, and we now have a whole world of marketing at our fingertips.

Are you interested in a piece of that SEO pie, but don’t know where to start? Why not contact us and see how we can help.