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Arbutus business community searches for Google presence

Arbutus business community searches for Google presence
Deborah SeBour, vice president of the Arbutus Business & Professional Association, has taken on the task of helping get more local businesses registered on Google Maps, to help with visibility. (Jon Bleiweis / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

When the Arbutus Commercial Revitalization group met with students from University of Maryland Baltimore County in November 2014, it asked the students what they knew about Arbutus.

Some responded by saying they didn't know it existed.

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The commercial revitalization group, the think tank of the local business community, asked the students how they look for things. The answer was simple: They Google it.

And what Deborah SeBour, the group's president and the vice president of the Arbutus Business & Professional Association, realized is that many businesses in the community were not listed on the world's most popular search engine.

"They just Google what they want and it's right in front of them," she said Deborah SeBour. "If you're not there, they're not going to find you."

She knew a change needed to be made. So she went to the source.

She received training from Google and now she can help get more Arbutus businesses on the map — literally.

And she can do so in a matter of minutes.

All business owners need to do is meet with her and bring a piece of mail or their business license, verifying their physical location.

"We need our businesses found," she said. "In order for Arbutus to succeed with economic development, our business owners — their customers have to be able to find them."

SeBour hosted a "Let's Put Arbutus on the Map" training session this month to get business owners more familiar with what Google has to offer. The business community members who attended said they appreciated the workshop.

"What Debbie's doing is awesome," said Scott Fisher, owner of Fish Head Cantina. "She truly believes in this town and devotes so much effort to raise up the business climate of Arbutus and we're all working hard toward it."

For Rob Benson, lead pastor of Matt's House Church, the training made him realize that there were things he could change to better get the word out about what his ministry offers.

He is considering implementing Google AdWords, a service that pairs online ads to users' search results, to better inform the public about these services.

"It's going to be a whole great experiment," he said. "We need to be more effective reaching out to people letting them know what we provide and we're here.

Brandon Kostinsky is the vice president of Sorrento Companies, which runs Sorrento of Arbutus. He's also a board member of the ABPA and monitors Google analytics for both groups.

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Since adding his restaurant onto Google Maps in November and the ABPA in January, he's noticed an increase in web traffic for both entities. For the ABPA, website views went up 50 percent, compared to this time last year.

For the restaurant, exposure on Google has been essential. Kostinsky wants Sorrento to pop up when people type "pizza" and "Arbutus" into the search engine.

"Google is the No. 1 way people find things nowadays," he said. "If you're not listed there, it's almost like you don't exist."

Kostinsky encourages businesses to get listed, as it can bring more people to the area.

"If not everybody is listed, we're not showing everybody what Arbutus has to offer," he said.

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