Google hopes to simplify how local businesses manage their information on its sites and apps by consolidating a variety of scattered tasks under a new online service.
Google My Business brings together features from the Google+ Pages dashboard and from Google Places for Business, grouping a variety of tasks in one place.
These include keeping a business' information current and consistent on the company's search index, Maps and Google+, monitoring customer reviews and checking user engagement on Google+ Pages and on AdWords campaigns.
With My Business, Google is tackling a chronic problem that has proven curiously tough for the company to crack -- making it easy for local small businesses to manage their Google presence.
Over the years, Google has sometimes vexed local businesses by launching, modifying and retiring sites, apps, services and features dealing with their information, such as maps, reviews, search results, ads and analytics. It remains to be seen if My Business will prove to be the central command center for Google information that local businesses have been waiting for.
According to Opus Research analyst Greg Sterling, Google's local business listing management has been "a mess" in recent years, but he is optimistic about My Business, which he said offers "a dramatic simplification of the process" and also does a better job of integrating and surfacing a number of Google services.
Although the jury is still out on how business owners will respond to My Business, the new tool is bound to add certainty and clarity to the process of managing local business data and accounts on Google, he said via email.
Google also released an Android app for My Business, and plans to offer one for iOS soon, the company said on Wednesday.
Separately, the company also announced it will now provide more detailed usage data for Google+ Pages, including an overview of follower demographics, page impression trends and information about popular posts.
Juan Carlos Perez covers enterprise communication/collaboration suites, operating systems, browsers and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Juan on Twitter at @JuanCPerezIDG.