Google Helps SMBs Increase Local Online Presence with New Initiative

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    Google began its Get Your Business Online (GYBO) initiative back in 2011 to help smaller, local companies increase their presence on the Internet. Although it has made progress, it still reports that “only 37% of businesses have claimed a local business listing on a search engine.” With the majority of consumers hitting up search engines to find business information, this leaves a lot of chances for missed connections and missed sales.

    To help further their own initiative, Google has set up a new plan where it partners with local leaders in 30,000 U.S. cities to help the small to midsize businesses (SMBs) there ensure they are represented online. The Let’s Put Our Cities on the Map program places a local Google webpage up with information on how businesses there can see their own information on Google as it appears to consumers. SMBs can also find out how to build a website for their business that is free for one year.

    Statistics on Google’s About page for its GYBO initiative show that Google has helped get 327,000 businesses online, held 240 workshops for SMBs and created 2,000 partnerships with other SMB groups, local leaders and Internet data companies such as Ipsos MediaCT and Oxera to help gather data and join consumers with businesses they seek.

    As Soo Young Kim, head of small business engagement for Google said in a release:

    “Small businesses are the engine of local economies and when they flourish, their communities do as well.”

    To further this initiative, local chambers of commerce in many cities across the U.S. have set up free Google “Let’s Put [Our City] On the Map” workshops to teach local SMBs how to ensure their businesses are well represented online for consumers. For example, the Clovis News Journal in Clovis, New Mexico, is holding its workshop on June 30 and is encouraging local businesses to register to attend. Across the U.S., the Northern Kentucky Tribune reported that the Google event for that region was held on June 10. Naashom Marx, vice president of business growth and international trade for the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, explained why having an accurate online presence is vital to local SMBs:

    “Nothing leaves a customer more upset than when they try to Google a business to get their location and contact information only to find it is incorrect. This workshop will resolve that issue and help businesses put their best face forward from their customer’s first search.”

    To help local SMBs find out more about Google’s program, Google is encouraging its users to visit a Show Support page (you can find it on your local GYBO webpage) where people can set up Shout-Out Postcards showing their favorite local spots. Consumers can also send a local business web tips or information about the Google GYBO site.

    Google is also encouraging partnerships with businesses that can help promote the importance of online information by sending out Google customized emails, social media posts and provided marketing materials such as stickers, posters and banners. Interested businesses can sign up via their local GYBO website.

    Kim Mays has been editing and writing about IT since 1999. She currently tackles the topics of small to midsize business technology and introducing new tools for IT. Follow Kim on Google+ or Twitter.

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