What is Project Beacon? What do beacons mean for my business?

Did you get a little box from Google’s Project Beacon with a strange device inside?

If so, you probably didn’t get a lot of information about what to do with it or what it means. The information included with the new beacons is sparse, and—so far—the packages are only going out to a few, select businesses.

What Is a Beacon?

Google describes beacons as “one-way transmitters that are used to mark important places and objects.” In practice, the Bluetooth-powered beacons can send information to users’ mobile devices when they get within a few meters of the physical beacon location.

This might mean that someone could walk down the street, get near a local restaurant’s beacon, and get specials sent right to their phone. If a law firm has a beacon-enabled, potential clients could park nearby and get step-by-step walking directions from their phones to the front door.

Beacons can be used in offices, stores, public buildings, and other fixed locations, and they can also be used on vehicles, like buses and taxis.

There are a lot of possibilities, and there are a lot of potential uses to explore as Google reveals more. Beacons are still a little new and mysterious, and there are lots of musings out there about their potential benefits, especially now that Google has entered the ring.   

Why Do I Want a Beacon From Project Beacon?

If you’ve received a beacon, you’re among a lucky few. For now, what we know is that the beacon can help businesses by:

  • Helping you get more reviews. Beacons from Project Beacon help stimulate reviews, photos, and more from people who have stopped by your office location.
  • Refining location and proximity. Beacons can put you on personal maps for users that have turned on Location History, and it can reduce confusion because it transmits from where you actually are.
  • Improving the client experience. Beacons make it easier for people to find you and engage with your business, and it brings your online and offline messages together locally—where it matters most.   

Getting involved with Project Beacon now also means that you get access to additional features as they are released.

Keep in mind that the beacon doesn’t give information directly to business owners, and it’s hard to say exactly what kinds of metrics Google may provide for beacon users in the future. Having a beacon doesn’t automatically improve visibility in local search, but the benefits it does provide are the right mix to support most local strategies.

It’s optional for now, but it is something cool to try that might improve the experience of clients visiting your physical office location.

How Do I Get One for My Business?

As part of Project Beacon, Google has started sending free beacons to some businesses that:

  • Have a physical location
  • Have enabled local extensions
  • Use Google’s ad services

If you didn’t receive a beacon, and really want one, you can ask Google to send you one for free, assuming you meet the above requirements. However, not every business that requests a beacon will receive one. It’s still up to Google’s discretion as they continue to roll out the program.

Do you have questions about how to leverage Google’s beacons or how to take your local SEO strategy to the next level? Contact us at 888.886.0939, and let’s start talking.

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