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Search Engines Reaching Out To Local Mom And Pop Stores

Google places

Search engines continue to make a mad dash for the mom-and-pop and smaller businesses in the local space. From mega search engine to fledgling startups, the goal is to help get smaller businesses -- some of whom don't even have Web sites -- online.

Google this week renamed its tool for local businesses Google Places. Here local business owners can submit data about their business so the search engine can index company information and serve it up on google.com and Google Maps.

The advertising feature, for $25 a month, lets business owners tag their listing with offers, such as coupons. The tags are being tested in Atlanta, Austin, and a few other cities before Google rolls it out nationwide.

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Business owners also can now show their geographic area they serve, rather than an address. For home-based businesses, there's an option to make the address private. Companies can also download a QR code unique to their business that can be placed on marketing materials

Google isn't the only search engine going after small businesses. Milo signed on 100 unique mom-and-pop retailers to help consumers find merchandise from small local businesses. There are more than 2.8 million products in Milo.com's database.

With little to no technical investment, retailers have been able to join in and get their products sourced on the Web, says Jack Abraham, Milo.com founder and chief executive officer.

Those processes meant helping the businesses pull the inventory data out of the point-of-sale systems and have access to it in real time from the Web. So when someone buys something in the store, Milo tracks it, identifies the purchase, and posts the inventory reduction on the Web.

Next week, Milo will release a mobile product that lets people search by location with help from the GPS technology in their phones. "Block by block, we'll get these companies online," Abraham says. Until now, when you did a local search via Milo.com on mobile you had to enter your location. Other features launching include integration with Google Maps and click to call.

Aside from merchandise from smaller merchants, Milo indexes and serves up product availability and real-time prices from nearly 50,000 national big-box and regional retailers.

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