Google Launches New Program to Get Local Companies Online

Google has launched a new program called “Let’s put our cities on the map” which it hopes will help local businesses to improve their online presence. The initiative is aimed at small businesses in particular, and it is hoped that it will help to raise awareness about Google’s business listing. Google is encouraging small business owners, local organisations and even consumers to add information to local business listings on Google. According to research that Google themselves have completed, a business is 38 percent more likely to get a visit from a consumer if they business has a complete local listing. Having a local listing can increase the likelihood of a consumer considering a purchase by 29 percent, too. As a part of the program, Google has created some custom websites for major cities, which provide information about how business owners can get their companies listed on Google Maps and appear in local search results. Google offers information about what details business owners are lacking if they have partial listings, and there is a step by step guide to Google My Business, which explains how companies can get started online. Business owners can sign up to Google My Business and claim a free domain name (registration valid for one year) and a free website from Startlogic, a Google partner. Consumers who want to get involved can make postcards supporting their favourite businesses, and share them on social media. However, Google emphasises that sharing these postcards will not help the websites to rank higher in Google’s search results. The idea behind the postcards is to encourage businesses to verify their details and to start maintaining their business listings. This will help the companies to get more visits and more traffic. Google has also started working with business development centres around the world, offering workshops to help local businesses get practical advice about Google My Business, local search and other aspects of online marketing. Many business owners have been ignoring local search and have not claimed their Google Maps listings because they do not know how to do it, or do not realise that it is something that they can do themselves, for free. Google hopes that the increased awareness will help to improve the completeness of their listings, and also help small business owners to grow their reach and increase their customer base.


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