Google | 8.27.14
Small businesses struggle everyday to compete with larger corporations. The biggest challenges for small businesses are being more visible in search engines, keeping an active presence with online content and sharing that content to build relationships with customers on social media. And doing so with or without a marketing department can be extremely challenging. However, small businesses are vital to our economy and Google released Google My Business to show their support.
Google My Business is a feature that provides businesses with access to a dashboard to better control different aspects of their Google online presence. It’s a free service that local businesses can use to reach out to customers. Business owners can add or edit information about their business including hours, contact information, online content to make it easier for customers to reach them at crucial moments in the research and buying process.
This also lets Google know what information to display in search results, on Google Maps, and Google+ and connects businesses with customers reviews made about their business. Google My Business users can respond to Google reviews directly from the dashboard.
No small business is the same. So Google gives you a choice of what type of local page you want to set up based on your business or industry. Now you have the option to choose from three different areas: Store Front, Service Area, and Brand. If you already had a Google local page setup before the introduction of Google My Business, your page should already have been auto-upgraded.
On the Google My Business dashboard, business owners will have a chance to view insights. Insights help you understand how people are searching and finding your business online and how they interact with the online content you share as well on Google+. These insights include different types of views (search, photos, profile, etc.) and the clicks that are getting the most engagement and contributing to referral traffic to your website. The dashboard also pulls in data from Google Analytics and YouTube.
With the set up of your Google My Business account, Google will automatically generate a Google+ account. Google+ is Google’s social media site where you can share articles and video. This is also where customers can write reviews and you can respond to those reviews directly from the dashboard right away.
Perhaps the coolest addition to your Google+ page is a virtual tour feature. At the top of your Google My Business dashboard, you’ll see “add a virtual tour” next to your profile information. Clicking on that virtual tour icon will take you to a page where you can schedule a virtual tour of your business that will be available on Google Maps in addition to Google’s street view technology.
Adwords is also a feature that’s integrated into your dashboard. Business owners can set up paid campaigns to increase search visibility and gain momentum online. Your AdWords login information will be the same gmail address used to access your Google+ page.
Multiple Location Pages
With an understanding that many small businesses have multiple locations, Google My Business provides a single dashboard to manage all locations. This takes an extremely frustrating task of managing an individual Google+ page for each location out of the equation entirely. To activate this feature, business owners will have to choose to be a “service area business” when setting up their account. Owners with ten or more locations can upload information easier using Google’s bulk upload tool.