Google My Business: an easier way to manage your business listing online
Google today launched Google My Business, an easier way to manage information about your business and how it appears on Google Maps, Google+, and search.
You get a single place to update your business information. Then the updated information will be broadcast to appear on various Google properties where people can search for your business or view your business listing.
A McKinsey Global Institute study (âInternet Matters,â March 2011) found that small businesses with a strong web presence grew more than twice as fast as those with minimal or no presence.
According to James Croom, chief marketing officer for Google who works on the Google My Business initiative, while the benefits of a strong online presence are clear, “business owners are overwhelmed.” He referred to a Brother survey conducted by Wakefield Research in March 2014. In that survey, 63% of small business owners said they were overwhelmed by the sheer number of technologies available.
Google My Business is intended to alleviate this feeling of overwhelm.
It simplifies the way small business owners handle the business information that appears. While today you can manage how your business information appears in Google from various places, “Google My Business brings it together in one place,” Croom added.
Google My Business will save time and simplify the process not only for owners, but also for the staff they may need to train to maintain the company’s online presence.
How Google My Business Works
Only the business owner and their staff will see Google My Business screens. For business owners, it looks like this:
By using Google My Business, you can:
- Update your business information on Search, Maps and Google+ from one place, to list exact hours of operation, location and similar information.
- Add pictures of your business and a virtual tour of the interior of your business to help customers see it.
- Connect with fans and customers by sharing news, events, and other important updates from your Google+ page.
- Stay up to date with reviews on the web and respond to Google reviews.
- Understand how people find and interact with your business using personalized information about how many times your business information is seen and from where. Google My Business also integrates with a simplified version of AdWords, called AdWords Express.
What the public will see is the updated information in the Google search engine, in Google Maps and even in Google+.
You might not realize it, but Google increasingly calls it something in search results that Google calls a âknowledge panelâ. You will see more and more of them when you search for a business in the Google search engine. The knowledge panel gives a large block of online real estate in the Google search results to a business, on the right side of the page. The knowledge panel looks like this for a San Francisco company called Dandelion Chocolate (the knowledge panel is circled in red):
According to Croom, a knowledge panel like this can appear in a number of ways for your business. But the easiest way to get one is to use Google My Business to enter and keep the information complete and up to date. The knowledge panel, when properly fleshed out, is impressive for clients and potential clients who see it.
Google My Business only manages certain types of âbusiness listingâ information. Google has other tools, such as the Webmaster Tools, to manage other parts of your site’s appearance in Google, such as which pages on your site are indexed.
Croom addressed the sometimes sensitive issue of online reviews. A link to Google Reviews as well as to reviews from other review sites on the Web appears on the Info Sheet and in other places in Google.
Said Croom, “Google requires real names [tied to a Google+ identity] for Google reviews. While business owners can’t change the verbiage of reviews left by reviewers on Google, they can respond to reviews. That way, if the information is inaccurate or the problem has been resolved, the business owner can put it in context.
The small businesses we spoke with are still crawling Google My Business, but from the first reaction they welcomed it, as have the search experts who work in local search on a daily basis.
Vedran Tomic, a local research expert and co-founder of Local Ants, LLC, said: âWith the introduction of “Google My Business”, Google has taken another step in increasing its share of the local advertising market. This time, they did it by simplifying and integrating their SMB products into one. This long-awaited change will help small businesses get the most out of Google. ”
Mike Blumenthal, a local search expert and co-founder of GetFiveStars, was also positive. He noted, “Deploying Google My Business is important in many ways. First iThis puts the messy transition and confusion of Places, Plus, etc. behind us and provides a single portal for SMEs to interact with Google. Second, it demonstrates a strong commitment on the part of Google to allocate adequate resources to provide the necessary tools to SMEs. This is a big change from 2 or 3 years ago. Third, it’s a clear statement that Google Plus is not going to go away but is better integrated into their suite of business marketing tools. And fourth, My Business as a platform allows Google to quickly develop and integrate new features and they have indicated to me that they have a lot of great new features to come. “
Blumenthal added, âFor the first time in as long as I can remember, Google is offering a product for local businesses with cutting edge features, an easy to use design, useful features like review monitoring and l social analysis, excellent support. , is technically sound and demonstrates a solid vision for the future. I think every local business needs to learn the ins and outs of this new platform NOW. “
Who can use Google My Business
The new interface for updating your online business presence is not limited to so-called local businesses. Any business can use it. Croom said there are three main categories of businesses he believes may be of interest:
(1) Brick and mortar businesses with physical storefronts that serve a defined local area.
(2) Businesses that serve a specific area but do not have a traditional storefront (they can work from a home office or from a truck, for example).
(3) Online businesses only or businesses with no defined geographic area they serve.
Use it on desktop or mobile device
Google MyBusiness is accessible in a browser from your desktop computer, tablet or other mobile device.
There is also an Android app (pictured above). An iOS app “is coming very soon,” Croom says.
For Windows mobile users, Croom recommends using a mobile browser and accessing the desktop app that way.
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