Earlier this week Google launched Google My Business, a new program designed to simplify and consolidate the way business owners manage their business listings in search, using Google+ and more. Google My Business will now be the default platform for businesses just getting started on the web, but will also replace the current dashboard for users of Places for Business and the Google+ social network.
If you’re a business owner with a Google+ Page, a Places for Business account or just getting started, here are some helpful tips about using the new platform.
What is Google My Business?
Google My Business is a free online dashboard that consolidates the way business owners and marketers are able to manage their presence on Google into one convenient place. This includes:
- Managing your business information for search, maps and Google+.
- Uploading photos and/or a virtual tour of your business.
- Sharing updates and interacting with followers on Google+.
- View and respond to customer reviews online.
- Creating and tracking adwords campaigns.
- Accessing Insights reports.
If your business has 10 or more locations and previously used Google Places Bulk Upload to manage listings information in the past, you will notice this is upgraded too.
The name has been changed to Google My Business Locations and Google has already promised more updates are on the way such as the inclusion of social features and visibility of live data.
Getting Started with Google My Business
If you were previously using Google+ or Places for Business, you will be re-directed to the new Google My Business the next time you login, while newbies can head to the Google My Business website to get signed up. Once there, you’ll see a blue button requesting you “Get on Google.” which takes you to a world map where you can search for your local business. If you’re not a local business, click that option in the upper-right corner to be directed to My Business, where you can choose to start a Storefront, Service Area or Brand Page on Google+.
If you can’t find your business, click “None of these match” and then add your address and the business type. Google will then search for similar businesses to see if you might already have a listing. If none of their recommendations match, choose “Keep my information” to proceed forward.
Next, you will be asked to confirm that you are an authorized representative of the business and of course you will have to agree to the terms of service.
You will also need to verify your association with the business. Google offers to send the verification code to the mailing address for the business now, or you can choose to come back and do the verification later. If you choose to verify later however, you will be unable to make changes or complete the listing until you complete verification.
You will then be sent to your new Page at Google+, where you can either get started or take a tour.
Google is making it very easy for people unfamiliar with Google+ to optimize the page for their business. A progress bar displays how complete the profile is and the number increases as you add more details.
Remember, these edits won’t take effect until you verify your business. Reviews and Insights also stay “locked” until your business is verified. This is no different than the previous Google+ settings.
Managing Your Google My Business Account
You’re all set up and verified, but you’re not done yet.
The Reviews tool can be used to monitor your businesses reviews and ratings. You can respond to reviews as the owner of the business. One thing I personally like about Google Reviews is that they try hard to stop fake reviews from happening by requiring the person leaving a review to have a profile. This isn’t 100% foolproof but generally people who leave anonymous reviews are much more brave when it comes to leaving false reviews online.
You can also monitor your Insights and use this info to improve your visibility and engagement online. Insights help you make sense of how people are finding your business and interacting with your content.
Whether you’re just getting started or were already using Google+ or Places for Business, it’s worth stopping by Google My Business to see what’s new. Take this opportunity to verify that your map info, store hours, phone number and other information are correct and that your profile has all of the information needed to find your business.
What do you think about Google’s latest move to consolidate small and local business marketing? Let us know in the comments.