Yesterday Google launched yet again another attempt to get ‘local’ right. With the launch of “Google My Business” Google attempts to structure what it has been doing for businesses in social, local and search over the past few years. But what does it really mean? Here are 18 answers to the questions you might have around “Google My Business”.
Can someone explain to me what ‘Google My Business’ is?
According to Google, ‘Google My Business’ is “A free and easy way to find and connect with your people, wherever you are.”
Their video explains it as follows:
However, this doesn’t really tell us what it is. So let me try and explain it as simply as possible:
Google My Business is Google’s new way of creating a platform where you can manage your business’ visibility within Google in one place. It integrates your search, local and Google+ business listings.
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How does ‘Google My Business’ work?
There are many explanations of how it works around the web. Danny Sullivan of Searchenginland always is a reliable source when it comes to explaining the functionalities. You can read his post here.
But what’s most important?
The most important features however we can sum up for you as well:
- You can easily update the information about your business on Google.
- You can connect with customers and fans using the social features (Google+)
- You can manage reviews
- You can use ‘custom insights’ to get a better feeling of what your customer wants
- It has an Android app!
Who benefits most?
Next to Google (who will be getting information on a lot of businesses) the ones benefiting the most from this ‘new’ tool are the small businesses starting out. Those that want to know “how to get on Google”. It’s the simplest and easiest way to become visible within the searchengine.
It’s just for small local businesses then?
Actually no. There is a big emphasis on the small local businesses, that’s for sure, but as Marketingland points out, there is more to it than just small and local. If you start of creating a page you get a choice already:
As you can see, this is not just small and local, but brands as well.
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Will Google My Business make my life easier?
That’s what Google claims yes. It will make your life as a business owner/ manager easier because everything is centralized into one place. One place to manage it all. And it seems like they have done a good job. At least at first sight. Things do seems to be easier and as a business owner you have a quick overview of all your assets.
Where before there were many different places (pun intended) you should go to when you wanted to manage your profile(s), now there is an integrated approach, which will make it easier.
So does this mean I now will be found better on Google?
If you use the service, maybe. But this is NOT SEO. Signing up and filling in your profile doesn’t equal being found. You still need to work hard to be seen: optimize your profile, do “SEO” on your profile, socialize using the Google+ feature and next to that, still have your own website.
Is this the end of Google+?
The end of Google+ has been predicted many times and without a doubt some will connect the ‘end’ to this as well, but in fact it is more of a push for Google+ than anything else. This service makes it easier for businesses to share on Google+, you don’t have to go to your page anymore but can update straight from your dashboard. So no, this is not the end of Google+.
Where do I start?
You start on the overview page. If you already have listings they will be presented once you are logged in. If you are new you can do two things: look to see if Google already knows about your business by searching and then claiming it, or create a new page from scratch.
What does this mean for my old Google Places listings?
Yes indeed, you went from Google Maps to Google Local to Google Places to Google+ Local and now you are going to Google My Business. Google keeps moving you around when you are a local business, but now they have centralized it all.
And they’ve moved your old stuff for you. Your old page management dashboard is now gone and is replaced by the My Business Page.
Do I have to pay Google for Google My Business?
Well no, not directly at least. The service itself is free. But off course Google will tell you that advertising will get you more visibility. So that’s where Google gets the money. But to start using this, it’s free.
Can I not use or ignore this?
You could ignore this functionality yes. That means you could focus on your own website marketing and SEO. But a single look at the SERPS will show you how important (local) listings like these are in modern day search. So to be honest, it would be a waste to not do it.
Do I still need a website?
Oh yes, definitely. Even though Google makes your profile show up in search and social, your website still is your ‘homebase’. This just comes ‘on top’ of your website. So yes, more to manage if you didn’t use local before. But less if you were.
But I have more business locations, what do I do?
Back in the old days this used to be a problem. Not anymore. Google allows you to manage multiple locations in one. You can even bulk upload them.
How does this help me understand my audience?
Google My Business offers insights which is much like Analytics for your profile, both on Google+ as the local versions. It will show you information on how your profile is doing, but also will tell you what type of followers you have based on metrics like gender, age range and geographic distribution. The basic information you also get from your Facebook Page for example.
Read more about Google+ Insights here (pdf).
So what about mobile?
For a change when something rolls out, mobile is immediately there. Google has been advocating the use of multiple devices in the past few years, saying you need to be ready for all. And this time around, they are as well. Well, almost. There is an Android App which allows you to manage your pages on mobile. iOs apparently is coming.
Where can I read more about Google My Business?
Here are some resources you can check to find more information about Google My Business:
Insights for Google+ Pages
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