Google has been pushing local businesses for years to ensure their Web site, hours and address serve up in local search results. The company on Wednesday introduced a program it calls "Let's Put Our Cities on the Map" to help businesses do just that. The portal offers resources to business owners to help them get online or correct and complete their presence online.
A page on Google's sites allows consumers to create their own personalized postcards listing the top three favorite businesses in their town. After creating the postcard, Google allows the creator to share it with others through Google+, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
The initiative aims to help businesses in 30,000 cities get online. Users visiting the site see a local version based on the IP address of the computer or mobile device. For example, I see local businesses in Huntington Beach.
For businesses that are not online, Google offers a free domain and hosted Web site for one year through Startlogic. Google asks those with an online presence to search for their company. A diagnostic tool shows businesses how they appear on Search and Maps, a step-by-step guide for getting online with Google My Business. If the queries are incomplete, the technology asks businesses to update their information.
Google also is forming partnerships with local organizations like chambers and small business development centers, equipping them with free trainings and custom city materials to run workshops.
Ensuring that each online listing offers complete business information can help generate economic value up to $300,000 per year for a small city or up to $7 million for a large one, according to a report prepared for Google.