Google’s Local Business Center Tool

Google‘s new ‘Local Business Center‘ was announced today and has already recieved a lot of coverage, mainly relating it’s signifigance to growing rivalry between Google and Yahoo. Internet business news aside, I’m curious about it’s potential benefits as a marketing tool.

To test it out, I used my gmail login for my account information, which worked. I then entered a client’s business name and address, which quickly took me to an existing listing, and upon my confirmation, to a google map depicting the office’s exact location. This frightened me a little, because it was so easy and I could just imagine all the ficticious entries people could make. But Google thought of that and I was relieved to see that a pin number would me mailed to the address I entered for verification.

Options for a business listing include standard contact information, including the designation of an email address (which I declined, lest spambots be drooling over Google listings), website address, business category and a 200 character description. Conveniently, the form shows your word count in real time so you can really play with it to get just the right key words in there! It comes as no suprise that 200 characters does not make many words. Using conjunctions, informal tone and substiting the word ‘and’ with an ampersand is highly recommended.

According the confirmation page, I will recieve two letters of confirmation. That is, one letter to the address of the original listing they detected and one to the address after modification – in this case, the addition of the +4 zip code extension.

I noticed the business category listings were limited and seemed to be retail oriented, although were at least a dozen services. I wonder how many categories they will expand to after people submit their suggestions. In the case of the business I listed this time there was a vaguely related category available but not the professional category…e.g. ‘Services – Landscape Designers’ vs. ‘Services – Landscape Architects’ where the former indicates anyone asserting opinion on the design of a landscape and the latter category indicating another level of service and requirement of liscensure to practice as such.