Google asserts that 1 in 5 searches are location based.
This gave impetus for Google Places (formerly Local Business Center). Google Places expands on Place Pages, which allows a business to “claim” their own MerchantCircle-like listing that feeds Google Search and Google Map (e.g. California Pizza). In addition to such banal things as hours of operation and coupons, Google Places supports customized QR Codes (via Favorite Places) and — for just $25 per month — businesses in select cities can make their listings stand out with Google Tags.
Aside: For the uninitiated, Google automatically generates these pages regardless of whether or not you have a physical business address so it would be wise to claim your listing if for no other reason then to ensure the information is accurate. It is free for one location (city).
Yesterday, Twitter announced you can tag Tweets with specific places and create new Twitter Places. You can also click a Twitter Place within a Tweet to see recent Tweets from a particular location. A really cool feature here is you can publish check-ins from Foursquare and Gowalla directly to Twitter. This means that if you click on a Twitter Place you’ll see standard Tweets and check-ins from these location-based services. Twitter will be rolling out Twitter Places in 65 countries over the next few weeks so expect to see a “Add Your Location” link below a Tweet box near you.
As far as Twitter challenging Google? Not really. Incorporating hyperlocal features has been a big trend in social media and online marketing at large. Both Twitter Places and Google Places are powerful weapons for any marketer to have in their arsenal.