Just a week or so ago, Google announced a big update that will hopefully be a solution for many small business owners’ headaches with Google Local (aka Google+ Local, Google Maps for Business, Google Places… it’s gone by a lot of names). With the new suite of tools called “Google My Business” — available at google.com/business — there’s one spot where business owners can go to manage all Google-related issues.
If you’re already using Places for Business (or Google Local, Google+, or one of its many other iterations), you’ll automatically be upgraded to Google My Business. And if you’ve been afraid to wade into the murky waters of the web, Google has made it easy to get your feet wet — there’s literally a button labeled “get on Google” that will help you through it.
For Google newbies, there’s also an offline signup step that helps to ensure that you, and only you, have control of your business’s listing on Google. At the end of the signup process, Google will verify your business using a 5-6 digit unique verification code. They send this to you over the phone or via a postcard to confirm that you are indeed affiliated with your business.
Once you’ve filled out your basic profile info and been verified, Google My Business will add your company’s information to Google Search (what most people think of as just plain Google), in addition to Google Maps and Google+. That ensures that your information is everywhere, so whether a potential customer is doing a web search or “seeing what’s nearby” on Google Maps, they’ll be able to find you. Computer, smartphone, tablet? Clients can be on any device, and Google My Business will have you covered. It also means that any time you need to update your information — say you want to add a phone number, or you’ve changed your hours — you only need to do it in one place to update all things Google. You can even add a virtual tour of your business so new clients and customers can really check you out!
Google is also using this as a big push for Google+ (the Google equivalent of a Facebook page). Google My Business lets you easily post photos, updates, and more straight to your Google+ page. Is this something you’ll want to put a lot of time into? It’s your call. On the one hand, Google+ just hasn’t caught on in the social media world. But because Google My Business automatically sets up a Google+ page for you (if you don’t already have one), it’s still definitely important to have a filled-out, branded profile. Even if you aren’t putting your marketing muscle into keeping it up to the minute, it’s still part of your business’s web presence.
On the other hand, if you do use your Google+ page extensively, Google My Business will help you leverage it with Insights reports. These let you see how often your posts, photos, and profile are viewed; what kind of content is getting the most engagement; and an overview of your followers’ demographics. Again, it’s clear that with Google My Business, Google hopes to give Google+ a major boost. Even if Google+ does not survive as an independent platform, most industry observers say the search giant will simply fold Google+ data into its existing products.
An especially handy aspect of Google My Business is the extent to which it allows you to easily connect with and understand your customers if you’re doing a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign with AdWords. It pulls information from AdWords Express, so you can easily get a snapshot of how people are finding your business on Google, what they’re clicking on, even where customers are coming from if they click for directions on Google Maps. You can also view changes in your customers over time, allowing you to spot trends and tailor your marketing with greater accuracy.
Another major bonus: You can use Google My Business to keep on top of reviews across the web, and respond directly to Google reviews. You can access Google My Business on the web, and — no surprise here — there’s an app for it as well. The Android version is already out, and iOS is coming soon.
Want to “get on Google,” or get a comprehensive analysis of your current online presence? Click here or call Higher Power SEO today at 760-881-4736!