Eurydice - 4:48 am on Feb 16, 2010 (gmt 0)
Go to the article and look at the screenshot (the URL is in the first posting to this thread).
Look at the link. There is a little yellow tag. That's to highlight the link.
Look a bit more. See "Sponsored"? It's paid placement.
No, it's not Adwords. It's a new service. Sold directly by Google's sales team.
It's called "Google Enhanced Listings." These ads can point to a coupon, store directions, a photograph or a video of a business, or, in the case of a restaurant, a menu or reservations page. Yes, that's right: to SEO a restaurant's menu, you pay to place the link.
Google has around one million small businesses in Google Local Business. The Yellow Pages have about 3.5m clients.
This is being tested in San Jose and Houston. If your local business (or your clients) are in those cities, go to Google Local Business and see if you're eligible for paid inclusion in the natural search results.
By the way, check out Google Local Business. It now reports on displays, keywords, and clicks.