Google+ Local and Google Places and Google My Business, oh my! The changes that Google is making to their business related offerings has generated a fair amount of confusion. Most business owners are already struggling to keep up with social media management so if you are feeling a bit frustrated with Google you are not alone. We will do our best to clarify a few important points about what has changed and where you should be focusing your efforts from this point forward.
What exactly is Google trying to do?
In their defense, Google is trying to create a central, easy to manage point of access for you as a business owner. We found this summary on the Google and Your Business Help Forum:
With Google My Business you can:
- Maintain up-to-date business information on Google
- Build loyal customers using a Google+ page.
- Track engagement with insights for Google+ pages and posts
- See information on your related Google Analytics account and YouTube channels
- Seamlessly create and track performance of AdWords Express campaigns
Businesses with a physical location can also:
- Help get your business found on Google. Google can use the business information you provide in local search results.
- Read and respond to reviews from your customers
- Get insights on how customers searched for your business, and where they’re coming from
A key advantage to this new service is that Google My Business puts your business info in important places like Search, Maps and Google+ so that customers can find you, no matter what device they’re using. Last fall we talked about the importance of Google Local for restaurants in this blog article. However, the new Google My Business is a valuable tool for any storefront, virtual or service based business.
What exactly are we supposed to do?
If you are already using Google+ or Google Places for Business your account has automatically been upgraded to the new dashboard. If you are new to this platform you can sign up for a free account at Google.com/mybusiness. We recommend that you take time to verify the location and contact information for your business if you have an existing account. An important best practice is to use the same images and branding that appear on your website providing continuity so your customers will recognize you easily. Another key advantage of this tool is the ability for customers to recommend your business using the +1 Button. Google provides the code for adding the +1 button to your website allowing your users to easily recommend you to their circles and drive traffic back to your site. We see a growing number of our clients using this powerful tool and we include it as part of any new client’s social media strategy. What about you? Are you using Google My Business? Do you have any tips or suggestions about this new platform? Be sure to share your ideas in the comments below.