Local Search Marketing Gets a Boost Down Under
Google Blogoscoped reveals that Google has released the fully-functional version of Google Maps Australia. Do you know what this means? No, I mean besides all the pretty pictures and new stalking opportunities. It means that local search engine optimization has just hit Australia in a really big way.
Google Maps Australia has been around since 2005 but the older version offered very limited functionality. This time Google has added all that fancy satellite imagery that we love, Australian business listings, driving directions, better local street maps, and support for Google Maps on mobile phones. Everything an Australian site owner needs to run a solid local search engine marketing campaign and attract new customers is suddenly at their fingertips.
Google Senior Product Manager Carl Sjogreen said that in additional to the basic local listings, Australian business owners will also be able to include "rich information" like their business hours, whether they offer wireless hotspots, and what their supported payment methods are. Google will also be offering sponsored listings next to each search results, giving advertisers yet another way to get into the targeted results.
Just like in the United States, it’s free for business owners to create a Local Business Centre listing, but they do have to verify with Google first. Interested business owners should visit the Business Centre’s add a listing page where they’ll be asked to provide basic company information (address, zip code, etc), their site URL, approved payment types, select their business category and enter in any other important company information. After this is completed, business owners can preview and save their listing. Once Google receives it, they’ll mail you a postcard with a secret number on it which business owners can use to verify their listing and turn it live. Why they can’t send the security number in an email, I have no idea. At least there aren’t carrier pigeons involved. [Sending it to the address being verified means that you're really who you say you are. Emails aren't tied to physical locations. --Susan]
The local business listing will be provided by TrueLocal under the same deal that put Google Ads on MySpace. TrueLocal is reported to make up 1.3 million of Australian business listings.
Users will be able to access listings from a computer or they can download the free Google Maps Mobile application and get them on the go.
This is a huge opportunity for Australian advertisers to get into their customers’ search results when they’re most likely to convert. One of the unique benefits of local search engine marketing is that local searchers search with a purpose. They need to find a restaurant to eat at. They need to find a plumber to fix the pipe that just burst. They’re looking for a hotel in Sydney. Adding yourself to Google’s free Local Business Centre puts your business in their conversion path and is one of the reasons why local search marketing converts so well.