For quite some time since the introduction of Google+ Local, managing local listings and content across Google properties has confused many local SEOs and local business owners alike. Now Google has launched a new, integrated approach called Google My Business.
The core idea is to make it “easier than ever to update business information across Google Search, Maps and Google+.” Think of it as a kind of rudimentary CRM platform for small businesses (SMBs).
I haven’t spoken yet to Google about it but Mike Blumenthal, who got advanced exposure to the product and is a Top Contributor in the Google Groups Help Center, thinks that this represents an impressive new commitment (or re-commitment) to local and the SMB market by Google.
Google is trying to streamline and make more coherent the process of managing local business data, reviews and social interactions across its many sites. Google calls it “a free and easy way to find and connect with your people, wherever you are” (see video below).
The company says that existing Google Places and Google+ Pages users will be “automatically upgraded to Google My Business.” Google offers FAQs about the new approach and its features, which all seem to have pre-existed. Simplification is the upgrade here.
In many ways this is the integrated product suite anticipated by a 2012 Wall Street Journal article asserting that Google was trying to consolidate and simplify several local-SMB marketing products under a single banner.
Here’s a video from Google on the change, and also see our separate post: Google My Business: A Visual Tour Of Google’s New Tool For Local Businesses & Brands.