Although it hasn’t stated that this is the case, it appears that Google has noticed Facebook’s attempts at simplifying its use for small to midsize businesses (SMBs). Today, Google announced a consolidated platform of tools for small businesses called Google My Business.
A lot like the new Facebook tools, the Google platform promises to connect SMBs with customers via various existing Google tools such as Maps and Google+. In the New York Times, Google Marketing Manager James Croom admitted that the tools weren’t easy to find and were in an “overwhelming amount of places,” which made it complicated for business users.
Jen Fitzpatrick, Google’s vice president of engineering and product management, told CNN that the company wants to help small businesses to grow:
“Business owners are busy and many have said they’re overwhelmed by the technology out there. We spent time thinking about how to make things simpler to empower businesses to become successful online.”
The new platform allows businesses to customize their personal dashboards with images and videos. From a single place, each SMB can respond to customers through Google+ and Google Hangouts. This allows for more targeted responses to customer questions and issues such as the company phone number or a map to its location.
Google also hopes that customers will use the +1 buttons to “endorse” business content online and that the new platform will increase sharing of “posts across the web.”
The platform will also allow users to see business reviews and analytics from their websites through Google Analytics, all from their dashboard. SMBs can also set up data from AdWords and AdWords Express for an easy, one-stop-shop view of their company’s online performance.
Croom told the New York Times that the changes were not intended to help Google generate ad revenue. The company “wants business owners to have the ability to update their business information quickly and continually so that the information surfacing in searches is accurate.”
Croom also cited a recent Yodle study that showed that nearly half of small businesses did not have a web presence. According to Croom, “Google wants to get them online.”
The new platform is free to Google’s “2.2 million advertisers,” most of which are SMBs. The company will launch its own My Business app for both iOS and Android OSes soon.