Google launched a free dashboard June 2 for its Local Business Center application, which allows small and midsize business owners to drill down into customer traffic patterns, letting them see what sorts of Google queries are most effective in attracting business.
"The LBC is a free tool that enables business owners to control the content of their business listings as they appear in Google Search and Google Maps," Amer Shahnawaz, software engineer for Local Business Center, wrote in a June 2 posting on the official Google blog. "All you have to do is claim your listing in the LBC and go through a quick verification process."
After verification, a business can edit and update its address and hours of operation, and hyperlink from the Google page to the business' own homepage.
In addition, the new dashboard analytics allow Local Business Center users to mine the following types of data:
number of times a business listing appears due to a Google.com search or Google Maps search;
- number of times people have interacted with the listing, such as by clicking on it;
- top search queries that led customers to a particular business listing; and
- ZIP codes of origin for customers asking for driving directions to a business' location.
"You'll that find we've already populated the dashboards for claimed listings with data from the last 30 days," Shahnawaz wrote. "After that, new information will be added every day, so you can check in often to see how things are going. We're also working hard to add more historical information, and to make this available for businesses outside the U.S."
The release comes as Google faces the prospect of added competition in the U.S. search engine space, after Microsoft released Bing, its new search engine, on June 1. Bing is designed to give users a more granular experience than traditional search engines, allowing users to not only search for general information, but also to carry out specialized searches for travel and shopping.