Google, Intuit Form Powerful Local Search Partnership

Sometimes you read things and think to yourself, wow – this is going to be big. This is one of those times.

In simultaneous press releases, Google announced its partnership with Intuit to help small businesses expand their reach and attract new customers, while Intuit announced its acquisition of StepUp Commerce, a company that helps small businesses establish a Web presence by making their items searchable.

In case your internal light bulb hasn’t gone off yet, these two partnerships could completely revolutionize local search.

As part of the Google/ Intuit partnership, small businesses will be directly plugged into Google AdWords, Google Maps, Google Desktop and Google Base through the Quickbooks interface. This means small businesses will now be able to manage their AdWords account, create Google Map listings (with free coupons) with one click, quickly search their complete inventory and hard drives, and upload items onto Google Base directly through Quickbooks, saving business owners time and money.

Why would a small business owner use anything else?

Over at Search Engine Watch, Greg Sterling, who must be working off more information than the measly press release I have, discusses Froogle’s involvement in the deal (emphasis added):

“StepUp has been working with Google to provide local retailer inventory information to Froogle. StepUp has about 5,000 small business customers. Being acquired by Intuit and integrated into QuickBooks will give the company overnight access to literally millions of small retailers and their inventory data. About half of QuickBooks’ 3.7 million customers use the software for inventory management.

StepUp’s application is similarly integrated into the new, 2007 version of QuickBooks. What this enables is a product/inventory data feed directly to Google/Froogle. As part of the install process of QuickBooks 2007 retailers will be given the option to list all their products on Google.

This is huge for everyone involved.

For Google, this deal has the potential to expand their lead in the PPC market, dramatically, before Yahoo! even releases its Panama upgrade. It aligns them with an industry leader, exposes more than three million small businesses to their services, and makes not using Google to manage your business seem like a bad business decision. How brilliant is that? [Not that we would recommend risking your business’ livelihood on the reliability of beta apps…]

For Intuit, it ensure small business owners purchase Quickbooks’ 2007 upgrade, increases their reach in the industry and helps them to move beyond the desktop.

However, I believe the real winners in this deal are the small business owner and local search. Do you want to help customers find your product? Use Google Base to upload your entire product inventory and make it searchable to customers.

Do you want to show up in local searches? Input all your information (hours, location, URL, preferred form of payment, etc.) into Google Maps. Heck, create some free coupons to generate buzz while you’re at it.

Are you having trouble locating vendor information, customer lists or that one pesky email from 2003 that you know you saved? Use Google Desktop Search.

If you’re not currently running Google AdWords or if you don’t have a Web site, you can still get in on the fun. New AdWords advertisers will receive a $50 advertising credit so they can sign up for AdWords at no cost. Meanwhile, for those without a Web presence, Google will host pages (via Page Creator?) with all your company’s vital information, allowing you to show up for searches.

Today’s announcement may that small push that local search needed to explode into a strong industry force. With these partnerships, small businesses have been given a streamlined system to promote their businesses in the local sector and get the name recognition commonly associated with big brand companies. If you haven’t given local search the attention it deserves, do it now or get left behind.

Lisa Barone is a writer, content marketer & VP of strategy at Overit Media. She's also a very active Twitterer, much to the dismay of the rest of the world.

See Lisa's author page for links to connect on social media.

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