Google’s latest bid to encourage small business owners to engage with Google+ was announced today in the form of what appears to be mainly a rebranding effort with a nice new interface.
According to the company, its new Google My Business service “brings together all the ways Google can help your business shine in one place.” As I see it, Google My Business is simply providing an updated dashboard for business owners to take ownership of their Google+ pages. While I’m certainly a proponent of businesses taking control of their information online, its unclear if this is a truly new service or just an interface change.
Google My Business, according to Google, is a suite of tools that allows business owners to complete tasks such as updating their information, reading and responding to reviews and adding photos. These capabilities aren’t new, but the interface is. The dashboard has gone through several changes in an attempt to merge Google+ pages with Google Places and, as always, Google’s goal is to increase the use of Google products among business owners.
New Review feature
Google Reviews have been a point of contention for many small businesses so it’s nice to see Google adding a much-improved review interface that should help small businesses better respond to any negative reviews and easily see new reviews as they appear. There is also a nice Analytics section for reviews. A small business can now see its total number of reviews across many review sites such as Merchant Circle, Yelp, and Judy’s Book.
Although this new interface is much more user-friendly and the reviews section is improved, I just think that Google is still pushing businesses into Google+ and to me, small business owners just aren’t that interested. In my experience, small business owners want to be able to edit their data, make sure it’s correct and check their reviews. What good is a new interface if Google still hasn’t corrected duplicate data issues and lost reviews, which is still a common problem? If Google would focus on getting the business directory portion of this product in ship shape, then perhaps small business owners would have more time to post on Google+.