A New, Free Marketing Tool From Google Geared to Newbies
Always eager for the slightest opportunity to insinuate itself into your life at every level, Google is constantly updating its products and services to be more responsive to your needs. One of its latest innovations, Google My Business, is worthy of something more than just your passing interest. Google My Business now consolidates Places for Business (formerly Places) and the Google+ social network for current users into one dashboard, which should provide more of a one-stop shop for managing business listings in search, Google+ and other Google services.
Even more significant for businesses new to the Web, Google My Business was built to help you get online easily, and once online, manage your listings all from one central location. Here’s what you can do from your dashboard:
- Manage your business listing info for search, maps, and Google+.
- Upload photos and/or a virtual tour of your business.
- Share content and interact with followers on Google+.
- See reviews from across the web about your business and respond to Google+ reviews.
- Integrate with AdWords Express to create and track campaigns.
- Access Insights reports, the new social analytics tool for Google+.
- See information about your integrated YouTube and Analytics accounts.
Google My Business can be accessed via your desktop web browser or on your Android or iOS mobile device.
If you are already using Google+ or Places for Business, you will be automatically directed to Google My Business on your next login. Newbies can navigate to the Google My Business page to get set up.
Click the blue “Get On Google” button, which takes you to a world map where you can search for your local business by typing its name and/or address in the upper left corner. If you can't find your business, click “None of these match” to add your business. Add your physical address and the type of business. Google will search for similar businesses to see if you might already have a listing. If there isn’t a match choose “Keep my information” to move on. You will then be asked to confirm that you are authorized to manage the business and agree to the terms of service.
Google then creates your Google+ page and business account. Next, you 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. Without verification, you won't be able to make any edits to your listing, so it's best to get it done as soon as you can.
For the next step you are sent to your new page at Google+, where you can either jump right in, or take a tour. Google is making it as simple as possible for people who haven't used Google+ before to optimize the page for their business. A progress bar shows the completeness of the profile as you add hours and other store information, add a profile photo and follow the prompts to input information. Remember, these edits won't take effect until you verify your business. Reviews and Insights also stay “locked” until your business is verified.
Like all of Google’s other offerings, Google My Business is a just a tool. In this case, it’s a tool that offers some pretty nice benefits. You can use the Reviews tool to monitor business reviews, track your ratings and respond to reviews as the business owner. With the Insights tool you can analyze your visibility and engagement to better understand how people find your business and interact with your content by displaying data on view types (search, photos, profile, etc.), as well as requests for driving direction and website visits.