In recent years, small businesses lacking visibility in search engines have struggled to compete with large corporations. As the rules for ranking higher in search results pages have continually changed, small businesses have been tasked with creating content and engaging in social media marketing to reach customers. Those without professional marketing departments or quality vendors have especially struggled.
But the Small Business Administration isn't the only entity recognizing how vital small businesses are to the economy. Google recently displayed its support for local establishments with a new feature called Google My Business. Using this feature, businesses have access to a dashboard on which they can better control their Google presence.
What is Google My Business?
Google is targeting this free service to local businesses eager to reach out to the many customers seeking information about them, though non-local businesses have access to the platform as well. Through a dashboard, business owners can provide information about their business, including hours, contact information, and other data that will make it easier for customers to find crucial information about them in a Google search.
The end result is that a business's information displays in search results, on Google Maps, and on Google+, along with the ability for customers to post reviews. Google My Business members will also be able to respond to reviews posted on Google+ directly from their dashboards, keeping everything in one place.
Building a Customer Base
Google My Business's dashboard lets business owners easily keep their business information up-to-date. If business hours change or the business moves to a new address, that information can be changed easily and immediately.
Through the dashboard, a business can also build an audience. The built-in analytics help business owners see how customers are interacting with their Google+ pages, including reviews and +1s. The dashboard also pulls in information from the business owner's Google Analytics account and YouTube channel. If a user has an AdWords Express account, key metrics will be provided in the dashboard, as well.
Google+ Page Integration
By setting up your Google My Business presence, you'll automatically generate a Google+ page, which is a fantastic way to build an audience through Google's own social media channel. This is beneficial because Google+ pages are commonly displayed highly in Google search results, meaning more online visibility and website traffic for businesses.
Multiple Service Areas
Many local businesses have more than one location, and it's important to have a presence in search results for each location. For instance, if you own a pizza franchise with ten locations throughout a large metropolitan area, you'll want to make sure a potential customer sees the closest location to him at the time he's conducting the search. Traditionally, accomplishing this meant setting up and maintaining multiple Google+ pages; a time-consuming and frustrating endeavor. Google My Business helps make that easier by providing a single dashboard for uploading and managing all of your locations.
To activate this feature, a business owner simply chooses the "service area business" option when setting up their Google My Business account. For businesses that have ten or more locations, upload is made easier with Google's bulk upload tool.
Google My Business users will be first in line for any future enhancements the service has. Already, there are several features that are new to businesses who were previously using Google Places, including the ability to see the status of all locations in Google Maps. A more sophisticated interface also compares all information on a business to see if there are any conflicts that need attention.
A new feature lets Google My Business users manage administrative access to each of their locations. For example, if a store manager or franchise owner needs to be in control of an individual location, the account administrator can designate access, with the ability to change it when personnel changes.
Business owners stand to enjoy many benefits from Google My Business, with the main benefit being easier, more convenient business information integration in Google search results. Because the service helps companies appear more often in Google search results, participation provides a competitive advantage.