At today's Social-Local conference in San Francisco, Marissa Mayer announced Google Business Photos, and local merchants may find that these images help bring traffic to their sites and stores.

Google is inviting local merchants to apply for photo sessions sponsored by the search giant, with images uploaded to marketers' Places pages. The move helps marketers better showcase their companies online, and business owners might find that Places listings enhanced with visuals increase traffic to their sites and stores.

The company explains, “Google photographers are currently visiting businesses in select cities in the U.S., Japan, Australia and New Zealand.” Pictures from the photo shoots will be added to businesses' Places pages, and marketers also have the option to add their own updated photos to their Places pages.

The opportunity to have professional photographs of a business may appeal to a number of marketers because, ultimately, it could appeal to online consumers. Recent data from BrightLocal shows that 60 percent of consumers give more consideration to local results that have images, and Google Places drives one-third of traffic to local websites.

In addition to having photos on their Google Places pages, marketers should consider adding images to their websites, and they must remember to think local when it comes to SEO. As Brafton has reported, Google organic search delivers one-quarter of traffic to local sites.

Katherine Griwert is Brafton's Marketing Director. She's practiced content marketing, SEO and social marketing for over five years, and her enthusiasm for new media has even deeper roots. Katherine holds a degree in American Studies from Boston College, and her writing is featured in a number of web publications.