How can Google My Business help your local business?
Personalization. It’s the hallmark of Google search. If they could hire a team of telepaths to read your mind at the instant you typed something into that search bar so they could provide exactly what you’re looking for, they would. But Google Mindreader isn’t even in Beta yet, and it’ll be years until the rollout.
So in the meantime, they try to determine the intent behind searches with all kinds of linguistic algorithms and Knowledge Graphs, and deliver to you the best answers possible for your search.
One of the areas that has seen the most personalization development in the past few years is local search. According to Google, 1 in 5 searches have local intent. When someone searches for “pizza in mountain brook al” they get:
Even if they just search for pizza, Google guesses that they might want to find pizza in their location, and asks:
Sometimes Google will give you local results (for pizza) based on your IP address location, even if you don’t specify a location.That’s even more true for mobile search. On mobile, intent is assumed to be more obviously local, with the stats backing it up. 40% of mobile queries are location-related, says Google. Bing claims it’s about 53%.
Google’s aim is to show local customers the local businesses they’re likely looking for. To that end, Google just introduced Google My Business: a comprehensive platform where small businesses can manage their Google presence.
Go to Google My Business’s opening page and you’ll find the benefits listed:
Number one benefit is easy, consistent management of all your business information across Google.
Before, if you were trying to be found on Google, you needed a Google Places page, and a Google+ page with updates, and managing your information on maps. And all that information needed to be consistent across all the services so Google wouldn’t get confused.
Now you enter it into one place in the Google My Business dashboard, and voila! Search, Maps and Google+ are all populated with the same information.
How do you start?
If you’ve had Google Places pages or Google Plus pages for businesses, don’t worry! They’ve all been automatically upgraded to Google My Business, and as soon as you sign in on the opening page, you can access your businesses.
Let’s say you haven’t, and you want to take advantage of it now?
As soon as you sign in to your Google account (or open a new one), you’ll be given that option:
Go for it!
If you choose a local-based business, you’ll be given a map and asked to put in the address.
If you choose the brand, you’ll get the opportunity to fill in business details.
Google will lead you step by step through the process.
Some tips for an accurate, impressive business listing that Google will want to show when someone in your area is searching for a business like you:
● Your NAP (name, address and phone number) is your business’s fingerprint. Make sure it accurately represents your business and appears that way across the web. (If there is inconsistency in web sources as to your business’s NAP, see this case study for details on how to fix the situation.)
● Fill in as much detail as possible. This will be the image of your business across Google. If they let you add something (like a virtual tour) – do it!
● Use quality images. Include both images of your storefront and your products/services.
Another benefit of Google My Business is better customer interaction abilities.
● Manage your Google+ page right from within the My Business Dashboard. Send updates to your customers (or select groups of customers).
● You can manage and respond to reviews your customers leave. (Although read this excellent post on how to effectively manage negative ones.)
● Hangouts are a great Google+ feature that lets you do video conferencing with up to 10 people at a time – and an unlimited number of viewers, if you put the “Hangout on Air.” Now you can start Hangouts from within Google My Business. Use them to communicate with customers, show new products, give webinars, teach – and then turn it directly into a YouTube video or make a podcast.
The last benefit is the consolidation of all the management in one location.
● Insights and analytics for your Google business page are right there in the dashboard: how many people visited, how many followers you have, clicks and engagement with the content you share via Google+, how many reviews and the average rating.
● You can start Adwords Express campaigns from within the dashboard.
● Google My Business has an app available from Google Play and iTunes, so you can manage your business presence no matter where you are.
One great resource to maximizing your Google My Business local presence is SimplyBusiness.co.uk’s ultra-comprehensive “The Small Business Guide to Google My Business.” An easy to read visual map takes you step by step from initial set-up to managing your page to ranking in local searches. Any step along the way that isn’t clear how to accomplish? Just click on “No” and you’ll get a drop-down of a few carefully selected how-to articles. A must-see for everyone – novice to pro.
If you’ve already put in effort to optimize your local business, Google My Business should just make it easier to manage and organize everything in one place. If you haven’t yet – go show Google your stuff… so they can show it to your potential customers.