The world’s largest search engine has been helping put small businesses on the Internet map for years.
Now, as part of a nationwide initiative begun in 2011, Google today Aug. 6 rolled out a program tied to the upcoming Super Bowl meant to give local small businesses a big boost.
A special series of “Let’s Put Our Cities on the Map” workshops will be held in tandem with the game next February at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California, the search engine giant’s San Francisco Bay Area hometown.
The program is “designed especially for the Bay area businesses … to learn strategies to getting online — and in front of everyone coming to town for the Big Game,” Google explained in a recent post on its official Google and Your Business blog from marketing head Soo Young Kim.
Google first unveiled “Let’s Put Our Cities on the Map” this past March, noting that the program was a continuation of a 2011 initiative, Get Your Business Online, “to help businesses… get found online.”
Google’s blog then reported:
“We’ve gone to every state in the U.S. and worked with thousands of business owners to create free websites and update their Google Search and Maps listings. But there’s a lot more work to do to help businesses take advantage of the vast opportunities yielded by the web. So today, we’re introducing Let’s Put Our Cities on the Map, a new program to help 30,000 cities get their local businesses online.”
At Let’s Put Our Cities on the Map workshops, run by a group specially designated for the task (called the Get Your Business Online team), small business owners learn how to use Google My Business — a tool that allows them to control the information listed about their company on Google Search and Maps. Methods to expand online visibility also are taught.
There is huge opportunity on the Internet for small businesses, according to proprietary Google data. The company adds:
“Four out of five people use search engines to find local information, like business hours and addresses, and research shows that businesses with complete listings are twice as likely (PDF) to be considered reputable by customers. Consumers are 38 percent more likely to visit and 29 percent more likely to consider purchasing from businesses with complete listings. Yet only 37 percent of businesses (PDF) have claimed a local business listing on a search engine. That’s a lot of missed opportunities for small businesses.”
The upcoming Super Bowl campaign builds on these previous labors, with Google noting:
“We want Google’s hometown businesses to have the tools they need to show up when visiting sports lovers inevitably start searching online for local restaurants, hotels, attractions and more …”
The 2015 Super Bowl brought more than 1 million sports fans to downtown Phoenix earlier this year, while some 500,000 enjoyed events in downtown Scottsdale, fueling the region’s economy with more than $700 million, a June 2015 study by Seidman Research Institute and W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University reported (PDF).
Small businesses “are still notably behind the curve when it comes to showing up online,” Google says, noting that—even though four out of five consumers use search engines to find information about local businesses — less than half of U.S. small businesses have a website. (Google/IPSOS, Survey of businesses, centering on entities with less than 250 employees, October 2013).
Also, only 37 percent claimed or updated their business information on a search engine, according to Marketing Sherpa’s 2012 Search Marketing Benchmark Report SEO Edition.
The workshop series will offer tips for building an online presence. A free website with customized domain name and one year of free Web hosting also are included.
Interested local Bay Area business owners can register to attend the event in one of three locations:
- August 10, 2015 — YouTube Headquarters, San Bruno, CA — register here
- September 22, 2015 — Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, CA — register here
- December 4, 2015 — Google San Francisco Office, San Francisco, CA — register here