What is Google Places
Places is a free location based service from Google. When you search a generic term such as carpet cleaning, Google will look for companies that have per-registered with Places and display your place information if they think your services are relevant to the search phrase.
Companies are also listed on a map contained on the page. The consumer can click on your map pin to see a more detailed Place page with services offered, contact info, hours, payment methods, etc.
When you register for Google Places, Google will send you a postcard in the mail with an authorization code to verify the address you entered. Places is designed for businesses with physical addresses.
You can find more information here. https://accounts.google.com/ServiceLogin?service=lbc&continue=https://www.google.com/local/add%3Fservice%3Dlbc
I have attached two screen shots that shows our places listing as well as the detailed Places page. I highly recommend places because it is free and the position of places links are always near the top of the page. Yahoo and Bing have similar services.