Google Inc. is launching a new, free dashboard designed for small to mid-sized businesses (SMBs), helping them get noticed online.

Branded as Google My Business, the service allows SMBs to manage their presence online. They can set up their location on Google Maps, making it easier for customers to find them, and they can also put their phone number and address within easy reach.

Once SMB owners have verified their identity, they can start using Google My Business by updating their “cards,” a quick way for businesses to cycle through the important details like location and contact details. SMB owners can then add photos of the business, as well as provide an online tour of the inside of their location. They’ll also be able to manage these details using a mobile device with Google My Business’ Android app. An iOS version will be released “soon,” Google said.

Managing contact details with Google My Business. (Image: Google).
Managing contact details with Google My Business. (Image: Google).

However, there’s also a push for SMBs to get on Google+, as they’re able to put updates on their page, to get customers to add them to their circles, and to allow their customers to leave ratings, reviews, and to re-share their content. Responding to reviews on Google is especially important, especially if a customer has had a poor experience and an SMB wants to address it.

For SMBs who are already using Places for Business and the Google+ Dashboard, they’ll automatically get upgrades to using Google My Business, according to a blog post from Google Canada. And for those who want to get more insight on customer experiences, there’s an option to integrate their page with AdWords Express, a simplified version of Google AdWords.

For restaurants, hair salons, specialty stores, and other small businesses, having an online presence – like a website with location and pricing details – has been really key. Still, for those who haven’t invested in getting online, Google My Business may encourage them – and it may help more of their customers find them offline as well.

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