For small businesses, every bit of exposure is worth its weight in gold. In Australia, statistics from the Council of Small Business of Australia show that there are 1.88 million small businesses, which represents over 95 per cent of all business in the country. In addition, small businesses are responsible for generating around 3.6 million jobs.
With GPS technology now a prominent feature in the lives of many thanks to the increasing popularity of portable in-car GPS units and mobile phones with built-in GPS, listing your business on Google Maps is a great way to increase its exposure.
When a user searches for a local business, Google can provide contact information through a number of its applications, including the popular Google Maps. Google also has the ability to display photos of your business, its hours of operation, contact numbers and consumer reviews. All of this is made possible by simply entering your business details at Google’s Local Business Centre.
As of November 2008, Google's primary local business listings on Google Maps are from Sensis. As part of this agreement, the partnership enables users of Google Maps to search across all local business listings provided by Yellow Pages. However, you can also directly add your business into Google’s online Local Business Centre, free of charge. The Google Local Business Centre is currently available for businesses in Australia and a number of other countries, including the US, China, Japan, France, Germany, Italy, Singapore and the UK.
All you need to do this is a Google Account. You simply sign in with your username and password and follow the straightforward instructions to create a listing. You can enter details including name, address, contact numbers, Web site, e-mail address and a 200-word description of your business. The entire process takes only a few minutes.
Once you've submitted this information, Google needs to verify it before it is published. You can do this via phone, SMS or a PIN number that will be sent via regular mail to your business address. Once the listing is verified, Google will publish your business information on all the company's relevant applications. Google claims the entire process should take "a few weeks".
If you ever need to edit any of your business information, for example if you change your phone number or address, this is easily done by using the edit tool. Once again, it will need to be verified and will only display once this process is complete.
Once your business is listed in the Google directory, consumers have access to a number of features. These include getting directions to and from your business and searching for nearby points of interest (POIs). They can also quickly view your business using Google Street View and add comments and reviews to a business listing that can generate discussion. Users with a Google profile can be contacted via the Local Business Centre without disclosing their email address, meaning the business owner can contact them to ask questions or provide feedback.
Conveniently, Google also allows you to take over a listing as the business owner in the event of a change of ownership, so you don't need to add all your business information from scratch.
The process is free, straightforward and takes less than a few minutes to complete. To add your business to Google Maps, simply visit the Google Local Business Centre.