Google has turned to a new tactic to boost its local search services, offering people money to go door-to-door and collect information about small businesses.

The Google ‘Local Business Referrals’ programme, now launched in the US and expected to be introduced in the UK at some point, will see independent contractors gathering data for its Google Maps database.

They will take pictures, find information such as firms’ opening hours, addresses and accepted payment methods, as well as telling them about Google Maps and the web giant’s AdWords advertising programme.

In return, they get $10 (minus expenses) for each referral that Google verifies and approves.

In its Q&A on the programme, Google said:

“In keeping with our mission to organise the world’s information, we’re always looking for new ways to make that information more universally accessible and useful. With the Google Local Business Referrals programme, we’re focusing our efforts on small businesses across the United States, helping connect them with potential customers in their communities.”