WSJ: Google Prepares “Business Builder” For Small Business Marketers

The Wall Street Journal reported this weekend that Google is planning to combine a number of its products (internally developed and acquired) into a suite of tools and services aimed at small business marketers:

Google plans to have its newest small-business service—which at one point it was calling Business Builder—up and running as early as July, said a person familiar with the matter. The project combines several products and services aimed at small businesses under a single banner. It is based on a mix of internally developed software and recently acquired technologies that the company hopes eventually will bring in billions of dollars a year in new revenue.

According to the WSJ the package would include:

  • Google+ Local pages
  • AdWords Express
  • Google Offers
  • Delivery (a new service that would enable stores to deliver products to homes)
  • TalkBin (an SMS-based customer feedback tool; so far doesn’t enable review solicitation)
  • Google Wallet (combination of online payment and smartphone-enabled payment at a POS)
  • Punchd (in-store loyalty program)

In the past some of these “solutions” have been presented together. The following is a year-old screenshot from Google’s site aimed at SMBs. Boost is the product that became AdWords Express.

Over the past year Google has been making a big push with initiatives in multiple states to help SMBs to get online and develop mobile websites (in partnership with DudaMobile). Why are SMBs so important? Beyond the fact that they represent billions of additional dollars in potential ad revenues in the aggregate, more than 95 percent of businesses in the US qualify as “small businesses” (under 99 headcount).

The overwhelming majority of SMB have fewer than four employees. These very small businesses have been extremely difficult for Google to reach efficiently “at scale.” Most of them won’t “self-serve” through a product like AdWords. Consequently, the company cultivated a network of “resellers” and traditional media partners over the past 5 – 7 years. These companies resell AdWords to local businesses — with generally mixed results.

Google would, however, prefer to have as many direct relationships with local/SMB advertisers as it can. Yet the challenge for Google continues to be two-fold: marketing products and sales.

With the above mix that the WSJ describes, Google gets a bit closer to an SMB-friendly product suite. However it’s still missing a reputation tracking capability (other than Google Alerts) and a listings syndication component (think Yext, UBL, SinglePlatform). We’ll have to see what’s actually announced or presented. (Arguably the recently announced Yahoo Marketing Dashboard comes closer to matching SMB needs.)

The second and probably more challenging issue is sales and customer service. The cliche is that “local is sold not bought.”

Google has been experimenting with a small telesales force but it has also built an impressive multi-national customer care organization, which is substantially directed toward helping small business advertisers. However I can think of a few local SEOs who would dispute that Google has come all that far when it comes to customer service.

Related Topics: Channel: SEM | Google: AdWords | Google: Google+ | Google: Maps & Local | Google: Partnerships | Google: Place Pages


About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

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  • Adam Thompson

    “However I can think of a few local SEOs who would dispute that Google has come all that far when it comes to customer service.”

    Don’t get me wrong, Google offers much better service and support than they used to, but they are still a long ways away from having really good service and support.

  • Kaj K

    It would be so nice if the Google marketers would get a clue themselves. 

    I keep getting e-mails to optimize my page where I show the Google Custom Search engine results, by adding a third ad block. Well, I have two blocks and the search results delivered by Google add a third one. So to my count this are three.

    Or how about the Google tech gurus

    When I do site speed tests and look at best practices, with Google Chrome it tells me to put various scripts in a Content Delivery system and reduce its numbers. Hilariously the scripts it recommends for that treatment are the Google Analytics and Google Ad Sense resources. Well, I guess the best practices aren’t that good, when even Google can’t follow them.

    In addition, the recommended simple solution is Apache PageSpeed module add in, right? Well, it slows my web server to a crawl and as a small business I’m not in the business to debug this for Google.

    have you used Google Analytics? It’s user experience is horrible for anybody using it more than once a week. You can’t customize reports for logical time horizons (last 7 days, last calendar month, …), many graphics are useless for much of the data, even on small sites it samples the data. And don’t tell me I’m getting what I pay for. I pay for all this with deeper insight into my traffic, a valuable commodity for Google.

    Oh and not to mention the lately very frequent but drastic Google Search Engine indexing changes. Traffic from Google is a roller coaster (to my purely informational and service website) to the extend that it has become impossible to predict, take seriously or rely upon. Google needs to understand that small businesses have limited resources, that means limited ability to react to changes (outside of their direct customer relation ship). So if the advertising (or traffic generating) platform is constantly changing it is a distraction from actual business.

  • Andrew Huskinson

    Some issues need to be sorted out to reach the smaller businesses:

    Many operate from home so need to hide their address but their service area is often not a circle around their home.  I have been asking for some time for a service area geo-centre option.  Think of a small cleaning firm, lives on the wrong side of the tracks but provides the service on the right side.  Customers are interested in who provides the service in their location, and knowing where the service provider lives does help with confidence, but they can see that on their web site or other web directory entries.

    Also in this post full-employment world we often have several distinct businesses.  However google force us to use a unique phone no for each, a considerable logistic and cost overhead(outside the USA).

    Even with what google seems to consider a distinct business area, carpentry, I used to, and would like to again have a separate Places entry for:
    Stanley Sliding Door Mirror Wardrobes
    Kitchen Love – New and refurbished
    Doors and Locks
    Gates and Fences
    All these are separate Yellow Pages headings and are not possible to represent properly in one Places entry, especially the Additional Details are no longer available.
    Google seem to think that restricting the Places entries and content available to a small business will force them down the Adwords route. But it will not work without a Places advert which actually has some relevant content, more than one category entry!

    Googles management seem to consider their own mobile phone waving socialite view of the world is the only one.  See the Google Places blog and count the drinks and meals on show.
    In no Google marketing puff do you see examples of manufacturing or physical services businesses.  The ones which create wealth to spend in drinkeries, eateries and leisure activities.

  • Chris Bernard

    Conflict of interest anyone? 

    I just received a call from a local small business today and he currently has the Google’s Adwords team working for him at the $21 per day level and has received bunko for it.  $500 per month for several months and less than 3 actual customers.  It’s all about how to keyword research.  Targeted local tail terms are where it’s at (keyword city, city keyword). 

    The trick…1) blow out hundreds of thousands of keywords with local derivations for the clients products/services/competitors/solutions/etc, 2) test all those keywords on a small adwords test budget of say $100/$200 (their stuff, their market, their brand), 3) create a bucket list of keywords to target based on impressions, 4) go build out organic content to steal the show. 

    Before the test, Google often will not show any impressioned estimates in the traffic estimator tool.  After we run this test there are upwards of 500 impressions per month for ALL the targeted keywords we go after – shame.

    Google would just assume these small business pay for the radius based “generic” keywords at anywhere from $1-$5 per click roughly.  This goes on day after day as in the example above. 

    On a positive note, because they do this, our agency has many small businesses who come to us because we do know how to keyword research and get them ranked for the right keywords locally all with only a few bucks for the Google kitty in our keyword test.  Thanks for the great work searchengineland, you guys rock. 

    Peace out @dock29:disqus

  • James

     Great, I would also want to share to you my secrets on how to be successful. I used this tool, just make sure you follow every step that it says. this is a great tool, you can instantly download it here

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