Google has launched a new marketing tool they believe will help small businesses connect easier with their customers.
The “Google My Business” service launched Wednesday and offers Google’s various tools — Search, Maps, Google +, Insights, Hangouts — in one platform. It helps small business owners stay on top of reviews from across the Web, share news and events and respond to Google reviews. You can also understand how people find and interact with your business using custom insights and integration with AdWords Express. It also allows users to upload photos of their business and provide a virtual tour that showcases what makes their business unique.
Google says “The idea is to let small businesses manage their online presence in a single, consolidated way.”
Firms can customize their own dashboards with photos and videos about their businesses. They can also communicate with their customers in a more targeted way by responding to reviews and connecting through Google Hangouts and Google+.
The service is free and rolls out to Google’s 2.2 million advertisers, the majority of whom are small businesses. Google is also expected to launch a My Business app for Android and IOS devices.
According to Google, just over half of U.S. small businesses with less than 200 employees have a website.
Google reportedly used this insight and feedback from its small business users to develop My Business.