Just when you thought you had your head around the Google Local Business directory, Google rolled it into another service, Google Places, and changed the way it worked. Then just when you thought you had your head around Google Places, Google rolled it into another service, Google Plus Local, and changed the way it worked.
Now just when you thought you had your head around Google Plus Local - you guessed it - Google has rolled it into another service and has changed the way it works.
Introducing Google My Business.
Rich Flanagan, head of small and mid-sized businesses marketing for Google Australia, told SmartCompany Google wants to “reduce the complexity faced by small businesses when managing their presence online”.
“Through our research internally and external partners, we’ve found that small businesses are time poor and they are not necessarily marketing or digital experts,” says Flanagan. “So we want to give them a very simple tool to manage their presence online. And we wanted it to be free.”
“If you don’t have a web presence, this is probably the fastest and cheapest way to get online,” says Flanagan.
“And if you already have a website, Google My Business further enhances what you’re already doing and provides more insights for users and more ways for them to find information about your business,” he says.
As any web marketer or online business knows, managing the various heads of the Google hydra is a fulltime job. Google Maps locations, Google Youtube videos, Google Plus profiles, starred customer reviews, it's a mess.
Is Google My Business the answer? The only sensible answer is "wait and see". Google is chronically bad at interacting with businesses that aren't Google Adwords advertisers; Google doesn't know whether to treat them as customers, as partners, as data sources, or as inventory. And if your business already has a Google Plus Page - the thing that last year Google was excitedly claiming that every small business needed to be found online - it is as yet completely unclear how that will interact with the new Google My Business. Stay tuned.