Google now offers a free listing to anyone on their Google Map application. Millions of Internet users use the Google mapping facility. The maps are embedded into web pages or they are scanned by interested viewers. Google offers anyone the ability to place a marker on the city of their choice for free. By taking advantage of the free Google listing, you may identify your business or service to the Internet community. The free listing is quite specific offering the ability to link a web site, 200 characters of description and contact information to the map. There are additional options that you may choose such as particular flags and other enhancements. These invoke a fee although they may be free for a limited time.

Free Google Maps business listingCredit: GoogleThe free Google place indicator is visible to users who select Google Maps during their search session. As viewers move the map via panning or detail expanding, the places are displayed on the map. A description of the businesses appears on the left of the map. Searchers interested in the business may click on the place indicator on the map or on the text listing. Both methods display the text that you associate with your Google listing. As added services to the Google searchers, the place marker shows with reviews that have been entered for the establishment, known details about it and some listings of similar businesses. The reviews must be entered after logging in to a Google account. This ensures a level of responsibility for the comments. There is a method for viewers to rate the comments or to flag them as inappropriate. These are basic Web 2.0 features. In some cases, the Google street view features will show photo quality views of the business. This is only possible for those areas that have been mapped by the street view team. Businesses should expect that their area will be available soon if not already.

For your free listing on Google Maps, you will receive access to a high quality stream of Internet viewers. They will be individuals who are either searching for businesses of your type or they will be examining services in your area. The listings appear very similar to those found in the Google Adwords type of paid advertising. Viewers encountering your place listing will find them quite relevant.

To get your free Google Map place listing, you must go to Google Places. From there, you must login with a Google account. If you do not have a Google account, the page offers a sign-up feature at the top. You register with an existing email account and enter your desired password. Your location is entered as is a word from a verification box. When you submit the information, your account is created. A confirmation email is sent to the email address that you provided.

When you have validated the new Google account, you use this information to login to Google Places. Once there, you specify your business location. The listing tool gives you the opportunity to enter a business contact email and web site addresses as well. There is a text box for the entry of up to 200 characters of description. You then add up to 5 categories for the business. These may be generic or detailed and can each be several words long. The categories will be used by customers searching for the business so they should be accurate and pertinent. You may want to add one category that is general, (for example "service"), and then expand this in a second category, (for example "repair service"). There are further modifiers to the location of the business. You specify whether customers come to the business or if the business provides mobile service. You may specify your business as serving a particular city or you can enter a number of cities or areas that you service. By entering distant cities, your listing automatically includes all points in between. You may give the four corners of a state in order to indicate that your business covers that whole state. By specifying Juneau, St. John's, Miami and San Diego, you will essentially cover all of the United States and Canada. The Google Places listing then gives you the opportunity to enter hours of operation, if desired. Payment methods accepted are shown as well. You may enter up to 10 photos directly and 5 videos. The videos must first be posted to You Tube. Finally, you may enter some general information of your choosing. They suggest that you could specify parking arrangements or indicates the brands that you carry. With all of the desired information entered, you press the submit button. Google Places will update the area map with your business details within a day. Subsequent changes you wish to make will be made within a week. Due to the rather slow update schedule, the Google Places service is best for static business information such as the address and basic functions. It would not be appropriate for daily changing menus, for example.

Basically, the free Google Places listing available for your business is an effective method to participate in Google Maps. Whether you use any of the value-added features or not, the service will put your information in the hands of people actively searching for services in your area. It can be a helpful addition to your regular marketing efforts. If you use the Google Adwords service as well, the Google Places feature is coded to work in conjunction with your Adwords listing. The Adwords listings are quite small with little room for elaborate descriptions and they have no provisions for photos or videos. The free Google Places listing will give searchers quite a lot of additional information about your business. In fact, there is so much available in the free listing that it may entice searchers to click on it rather than your Adwords listing. This would have the effect of saving your advertising budget while providing enhanced information to your customers. All business owners should take advantage of the free Google Places listing. This is one of the free tips that businesses can use to market their services on the Internet.