Google has launched "Google My Business," a free tool so small and medium-sized businesses can update their information, add photos, connect with customers and manage their profiles via a mobile app.
The move highlights how Web giants are increasingly looking toward SMBs to maintain growth and cultivate long-term advertising customers.
For Google, the SMB effort is a nice way to get businesses to dip their toes into Adwords and the search giant's advertising tools. Google My Business essentially creates an SMB suite and gives the Google+ dashboard and Places a similar user experience.
Recent events highlight how SMBs are becoming the belles of the ball for Web giants. Consider:
- Facebook has a tour for small businesses that highlight tools finding lookalike audiences, ways to appeal to customers and advertising techniques. Facebook's tour also doubles as a networking and best practices swap meet. Facebook's slice of the ad pie is smaller than Google's, but the social giant is trying to close that gap with better targeting.
- Amazon is reportedly trying to launch a marketplace for local services. If successful---and Amazon faces challenges scaling with small businesses---the e-commerce giant would be a middleman by zip code similar to a service like Angie's List.
- Google My Business in many ways rhymes with what Facebook is trying to do. Offer tools for SMBs to reach customers and manage their profiles on the go with mobile applications.
Given the reach of Google and Facebook, SMBs will have to make good use of both services and the tools they provide. The game for the Web giants is to keep wallet share and cultivate SMBs, which can become large enterprises with real ad budgets in some cases.