Google Reaches Out to Local Businesses

Google has created a program to let businesses create or update listings on its Google Local index, the latest enhancement the Mountain View, California, vendor has made to one of its most popular search services.

Google Local Business Center lets business owners add their company information to Google Local or, if it's already there, edit it, says Marissa Mayer, Google's director of consumer Web products.

By offering this free service, Google seeks to increase the number of listings in Google Local and keep information current. "We want to build the most comprehensive index of local business information available on the Web and potentially anywhere," Mayer says.

Receiving information directly from businesses will complement Google Local's other sources of business listings data, such as yellow pages publishers, business directories, and Web sites.

"If you don't advertise in the yellow pages and you don't have a Web site, right now you're not findable in Google Local," she says, adding that this new service is aimed at changing that.

Authorization Required

Because Google needs to certify that the person supplying the information is authorized to do so, it sends a letter to the business address with a personal identification number. Once the authentication process is completed and the person has been certified, the information should appear in Google Local after several weeks, a Google spokesperson says.

Local search is a very hot area right now because it lets users limit queries to a specific geographical area, allowing them to find information on local businesses, entertainment, news, weather, and the like. Consequently, local search has also attracted local advertisers that can have their ads run only when someone is looking for information about the area where they are based.

User interest in local searches is evident by the growing popularity of Google Local, whose traffic is increasing rapidly, Mayer says.

"Local is a very important space. Most consumer dollars are spent close to home in local businesses," she says. "It's clear that there's a great need to provide good local search."

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