Google has launched a programme called Google Local Business Referrals to get up-to-date information about businesses across the country.
The company said it is paying independent contractors, called business referral representatives, to visit local businesses to collect information about them - including their addresses, hours of operation and the types of payment they accept - so it can be added to Google Maps. While at the businesses, the representatives also will tell the companies about Google Maps and the AdWords advertising program.
The representatives will take digital photos of the businesses or their products for posting on Google Maps. They will submit the information to the Google Maps Local Business Centre.
Google said it will pay up to US$10 for each referral that it approves and verifies. The company said it won't reimburse the representatives for the money they spend on things like gas, computers and digital cameras, but it will cover the costs of printing handouts given to the businesses.
According to Google, the representatives will be helping businesses attract new customers as well as making it easier for consumers to find products and services.
"In keeping with our mission to organize the world's information, we're always looking for new ways to make that information more universally accessible and useful," Google said in an FAQ page about the program. "With the Google Local Business Referrals program, we're focusing our efforts on small businesses across the United States, helping connect them with potential customers in their communities."
To be eligible to work as business referral representatives, individuals must be 18 or older and able to complete an IRS Form W-9, and they need to be authorized to work as contractors in the U.S. They also must have access to a computer and a digital camera.