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Does Google Boost Give SMBs Enough Liftoff?

Google is giving small business owners a ‘boost’ with their search marketing efforts with a new ad product called, yeah, you guessed it – Google Boost [1]. On Monday (after being outed by Mike Blumenthal [2]), Google unveiled its new ad solution designed to help small business owners connect with customers in their area. According to Google, the new platform is designed to give SMB owners “a quick and easy way to share information about themselves with the people who look for them online.”  Cool.

Boost is currently only available to local business owners in San Francisco, Chicago and Houston, however, with wide-scale roll out, all SMB owners will be able to create ads directly from their Google Places account. The ads will contain a mix of basic company information (company name, address, phone number, Web site URL), as well as additional information like the number of reviews you have, your average star rating, and a link to your Place page for additional information. The ads will appear in the Sponsored Links section of Google.com and Google Maps pages and, just like with traditional search ads, will appear based on the ads quality and the keywords and location information entered by the searcher.

To create your ad, small business owners will be asked to write a short description, select a destination page (your Web site or your Google Place page), pick your categories and then select a monthly budget.

[3]

The difference between Boost and traditional ads purchased with Google is that Boost will require absolutely no upkeep from small business owners. They even take care of assigning keywords to your ad. Once you handle the initial set up, Google will use its advertising algorithm to handle the rest. While we often talk about how SEO and social media aren’t “set it and forget it”, however, Boost is.

In his post on the release, Mike Blumenthal referred to Google Boost as an “AdWords for the masses”, which I think is a fairly apt description, however, worrisome. Because while Boost is a good alternative for small business owners who would have ignore paid advertising otherwise, it’s not exactly doing much to help educate SMBs on how to use paid ads effectively on a real level. It would be unfortunate for a local business owner to see success using Boost (or even Google Tags) and then sign up for an AdWords account to be horribly disappointed and overwhelmed when suddenly they are responsible for creating compelling ads, managing keywords, and geo-targeting ads. While Boost may help SMBs get started, I’d love to see a product or service that helps them mature beyond that. Because that’s what I think would be even more valuable to SMBs.

That said, Google Boost does offer SMBs a good starting point to get familiar with ads and benefit from increased local visibility. While we all wait for the Boost roll-out, SMBs can check out the Help pages for Google Boost [4] to get additional information on how ads work, benefits and how to access their ad dashboard.