Maps and mapping function are becoming increasingly important as more users obtain their business information through mobile devices, and Google has the Web’s top searching function.
Small businesses looking to get the word out about themselves online consistently find themselves coming back to one word: Google.
The search engine giant not only holds the top searching function on the Web, but is also the top mapping utility online, meaning small businesses need to figure out how to get their signposts somewhere on Google’s maps.
Chris LaSala, director of SMB Reseller Partnerships with Google, explained today at BIA/Kelsey’s ILM: 09 conference that maps and mapping function are becoming increasingly important as more users obtain their information through mobile devices.
LaSala said users using mobile searches to find local places or services will grow from 28 percent to 35 percent by 2013. “I’m surprised that’s not higher,” he said.
Google offers multiple services for small businesses to keep up-to-date information available and easily accessible to Google users, LaSala said, including paid functions like AdWords, but also free services like the Local Business Center.
The Local Business Center allows small businesses to verify and submit information about themselves to Google. Once verified, a small business has access to Google metrics, such as where people are searching that leads them to the small business, or what keywords are bringing the business up in the search.
Google is looking to marry the information the Local Business Center receives with mobile devices and in-person visits to the business.
On Monday, Google distributed more than 100,000 decals to businesses across the country. Business owners can place the decals, which contain a special barcode, in shop windows. Passing customers can use their mobile phones to scan the barcode, which opens up the business’ Google-based information.
Some ILM: 09 attendees have complained that the verification process is cumbersome and confusing, involving postcards and phone calls, as well as making it difficult for third-parties representing small businesses to verify for them.
LaSala said the Local Business Center was conceived about local business owners first.
“The small business owners themselves have the most to gain,” he said. “That’s the approach we take.”
Third-party support may come later, LaSala said, but not before all the wrinkles with the system and first-parties have been smoothed out.
Google is also toying with other local business advertising ideas, LaSala said. The company is in the midst of beta testing store locating search functions in paid advertising and click-to-call services on mobile search devices.