Google has updated its Local Business Center to add free features designed to make finding local business on Google Maps easier, and to make using the service more enticing to small business constituents.
The new features include a Photo Upload to allow businesses to post images next to their listing, and the selection of custom attributes specific to their business type, like "hotel" or "restaurant." For slightly savvier small businesses, Google is also providing the ability to edit the location of a business shown on Google Maps, in the event it's incorrect, and offering stats on how many impressions and clicks a business listing has received on Google Maps.
"Even though we have teams that work hard at getting this right, every once in a while it's off by a block," said Brandon McCormick, a spokesperson for Google, about the Location Correction or "Geocoding" feature. "It's the idea that even small and local businesses can customize their experiences on the Web."
By providing them as many features on the Local Business Center as possible, Google hopes to impress upon even the smallest businesses that the best way to reach their customers is online, said McCormick.
"For the small local business the most important thing is understanding their customers are looking for business services online," he said. "And if they're not online, they are not going to be found by their customers."
As Google is in the business of collecting and providing information, it's in its own best interest to offer the new features to local businesses for free and without direct advertising associated with the listings, McCormick said.
"Our goal is to get good local information. It's completely free to the consumer. There's not advertising tied directly to this," he said.
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