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Google Is Now Getting Serious About Local Businesses

Google has big plans for local businesses, and making billions for itself in the process. Google announced a major Google+ push into local search last week, when it revealed Google+ Local, which effec...
Google Is Now Getting Serious About Local Businesses
Written by Chris Crum
  • Google has big plans for local businesses, and making billions for itself in the process.

    Google announced a major Google+ push into local search last week, when it revealed Google+ Local, which effectively turns Google+ business pages into the new local business hub across Google Search, Google Maps and Google+.

    “Much of the information from a business owners’ Google Place page – such as the business address, phone number, description, and Google reviews, and photos submitted by business owners and users – will automatically be ported over to the upgraded local Google+ page,” a Google spokesperson told WebProNews.

    “People used to be able to find information about a business on the Google Places page, but now, they’ll find much of that same information on the local Google+ page and enjoy the added ability to share that information with the people in their Google+ Circles,” they said. “This means that a business listing that could previously be found across Google Search, Google Maps, and Google Maps for mobile is still available in all those places, but is now also more easily discoverable to the millions of users on Google+ as well.”

    The Wall Street Journal reports that Google is readying a new “local ad assault,” led by executives Jeff Huber and Marissa Mayer, which should surface next month, and combines a variety of local-geared services “under a single banner,” once called Business Builder internally. According to the publication, it will include services powered by recent acquisitions Punchd and TalkBin, as well as AdWords Express, and of course a heavy Google+ push.

    AdWords Express (formerly known as Boost) launched last July in the U.S. It targeted businesses who weren’t already using AdWords. The company considered it a “fast/simple way for local businesses to start advertising online in less than 5 minutes”.

    “AdWords Express helps potential customers find your website or Place page, and gives you a quick and straightforward way to connect with them and grow your business,” AdWords Express Product Mangager Kiley McEvoy said at the time. “You simply provide some basic business information, create your ad, and your campaign is ready to go.”

    Punchd was a mobile loyalty card startup Google acquired (also last July). It was described as “the replacement for your buy-10-get-1-free cards at your favorite shops.”

    Google acquired TalkBin the April before that. It was described as a way for your business to deliver better customer experience by letting customers use their mobile phones to communicate to your business in real time. Customers could send businesses feedback, suggestions, and questions through short messages, which allowed the businesses to quickly respond (“immediately,” according to TalkBin’s site).

    “Central to the effort is Google+, the company’s social network, which it hopes consumers will use to interact with local businesses that now have special Web pages on the network,” reports the WSJ’s Amir Efrati. “Those Google+ pages will draw traffic from the company’s Web-search engine. When shoppers visit these businesses, Google wants them to use their Internet-connected phones like a digital wallet, earning loyalty points and making payments at stores that sign up for Google’s new services. In turn, Google is hoping stores and other businesses will use their new Google+ pages to communicate with customers, such as by showing them special offers. And it hopes to persuade them to sign up for other Google products.”

    According to Efrati’s report, Google hopes its new offering, which combines all of this, will bring in “billions of dollars a year in new revenue,” and gets “more merchants to spend money on digital advertising, including on Google’s search engine”.

    It’s no secret that Google’s average cost-per-click has suffered in recent quarters, largely due to increased mobile queries, where CPCs just haven’t matched their desktop counterparts. During the company’s Q1 earnings call in April, CEO Larry Page said advertisers always spend most of their money on the major source of traffic, which is desktop, but that over time, that will reverse. Over time, CPCs may actually get better,” he said. “We’re very bullish.” He added that Google is making lots of investments in that area, such as Google Offers and Google Wallet. Those combined with the suite described in the WSJ report could have a significant impact.

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