We recently launched a trial, currently limited to the cities of San Jose and Houston, for a new ads feature in local search that allows business owners to enhance their listings. We've seen a lot of curiosity about this feature, so I wanted to take this opportunity to provide further information about it for everyone interested in learning more.

These enhanced listings allow business owners to highlight an aspect of their Local Business Center listing that they think best reflects what they have to offer their customers. The business owner can choose to enhance the way their listing appears in search results by including a link to point customers directly to photos, videos, website, coupons, directions, menu or reservations signup. Let's say a deli owner thinks the huge selection of imported cheeses really makes her deli stand out - she may want to give potential customers a quick way to see the menu on her website or a photo of her display case. Customers who access this relevant information can make an easier, more informed decision about which business to call or visit.

Here's an example for optometrist in San Jose, CA. Notice the yellow tag below the North Valley Optometry listing with a link to "View photos" of their business and the photo icon placed on the map:

These enhancements are an easy and straightforward way for businesses to emphasize information that may already be available on their Place Pages or websites, and to connect with interested, locally-based potential customers. When the listing shows up in your Google.com or Google Maps search results, the enhancement also appears alongside it. The enhancements do not affect the ranking of LBC listings, and we clearly indicate which parts of the search result are sponsored.

We hope both users and business owners find this feature useful, so we'll monitor the trial closely and may make changes. Based on the initial results, we may choose to expand it into additional areas. We don't have a specific timeline to share at the moment but we'll post again if and when we do. In the meantime, business owners can claim their listing in the Local Business Center, and those located in San Jose and Houston will see an invitation to enhance their listing for a flat fee of $25/month in the dashboard. Interested businesses outside these areas can be notified when enhanced listings come to their area by filling out this form.