If you’ve used the internet anytime in the past ten years, you’ve undoubtedly heard of Google, the superstar of search engines that millions of people use everyday.

Google is used to search for everything from recipes and political insight, to plumbing tips and sports commentary.

As a business owner, showing up on Google is important because exposure on the search engine leads to new clients. Ranking on Google is much easier said than done, however, and requires time, money, and knowledge about how things like search engine optimization work.

But don’t throw in the towel just yet! One tool the search engine giant offers, Google Maps, makes getting on Google easy for small businesses. Google Maps is part of the Google Local Business Center and offers mapping technology to help customers find local businesses, like yours, on Google.

Using Google Maps is a great way that you can get your company name viewed on the internet by customers that are eagerly searching for your service. Google Maps localizes search results by showing customers exactly where you are located, as well as information about your business. The local results presented by Google Maps appear high on the page, and carry the prestige and familiarity of being linked to Google, the most used search engine on the web. Best of all, listing your business on Google Maps is FREE and easy to do.

Why People Use Google Maps
More people today use internet search engines to find the information they need than ever before. Sites like Google yield millions of search results when customers type in local terms such as “Charlestown plumbers.” In addition to searching the web for a business, customers looking for a specific type of business search Google Maps to find the business that best fits their needs within a certain geographic area.

Google Maps is also interactive so that along with a list of businesses, potential customers are also presented with a graphical map that can be zoomed in, zoomed out, scrolled around, and even altered to show street views. The businesses are pinpointed on the map and can be clicked on to reveal more information about each one.

Getting Listed For Free
Listing your business on Google Maps is easy to do and takes only a few minutes. By visiting the Google Local Business Center, you’ll be able to add your business, update information, and even monitor data about your customers.

A short video on the Google Local Business Center’s webpage shows how to get listed, and the benefits of listing your business on Google Maps. Once you’ve started the process by entering your business contact information, you’ll be able to include other information about your business such as hours of operation, coupons, photos of your business and payment options. Providing potential customers with as much information as possible about your business will make them feel comfortable about calling you for the job.

With Google Maps, you can control the listing information easily with free updates. This is especially useful if you move locations, expand to open other locations, change hours of operation, or alter any other information about your business. Every time you update information on Google Maps, it is also added to Google’s database, which includes the search engine, Google Earth and any other Google service.

How Google Maps Can Benefit Your Business
Besides the obvious exposure that your business will gain from being listed on Google Maps, the service can benefit your business in other ways. Google Maps now offers a reporting dashboard that allows you to determine how people are finding your business. You can view the activity that your business gets on Google maps, such as what terms people search for to find you and where your customers are located. This information can help you determine how to best use other forms of marketing, such as buying advertising in areas where you know most of your clients are located.

Google Maps also displays reviews customers have written about your business on the web, along with a star-rating out of the typical five-star scale. If customers are happy with your business and offer up a great review, you’ll boost your star rating and credibility with potential new clients.

You can also use Google Maps on your own business’s website. Google allows business owners to download the Google application program interface (API). This will allow you to display Google maps on your own website and present customers with geographical information about your company.

Much like ranking in Google search results, ranking on Google Maps is based on a variety of geographic and other proprietary factors. Google attempts to show results that match the location of the searcher, so your listed address will strongly affect the queries for which your business gets displayed. Try to properly categorize your business with keywords that describe it and include those keywords in the title of your business. Also, building citations across the web to your business and its address will help Google verify your authenticity. The more results that turn up for your company name and business profile, the more confident Google will be in placing your business higher in their results.

Creating a business listing on Google Maps is a great free form of online marketing. With just a few easy steps, you will be on your way to being listed on the web’s most powerful search engine. To get started, visit Google’s Local Business Center at http://www.google.com/local/add.