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“America runs on small businesses,” says Google in a video promoting its new local business listing product, Google My Business (GMB).
The video states that customers are what small businesses run on, and Google’s job is to make finding those customers – and, conversely, those customers finding your business – easier, which is what Google My Business is designed to do.
According to the official announcement, Google My Business brings together all the ways Google can help businesses be found – Search, Maps and Google+ – and primarily targets businesses that have yet to claim their listing.
Google My Business replaces two older products – Google Places for Business and Google+ Local – which we will discuss in greater detail later.
Using Google My Business, businesses can:
- Update business information on Search, Maps, and Google+ from a single administrative dashboard.
- Add photos of their business such as products, employees, customers, facilities, store and office locations, or other images.
- Connect directly with customers by sharing news, events and other important updates from their Google+ business page.
- Monitor and respond to Google reviews.
- Understand how people find and interact with the business using custom insights and integration with AdWords Express.
- Manage information with the Google My Business Android app and soon to be launched iOS app.
If your business is not currently listed, click the blue “Get on Google” button located in the center of the page. You can’t miss it. (Better yet, contact our Internet marketing staff and we will take care of this for you.)
GMB Clears Up Business Listing Confusion
Google also hopes that GMB will end confusion over a local business listings dilemma that it created soon after Google+ was launched.
Originally, businesses claimed their listed on Google Places for Business. Then, Google+ came along and offered a second option, Google+ Local for Business. The two operated almost independently of one another (though not altogether). Google+ Local was tied directly to Google+ while Google Places was related to Google Search. (Even talking about it is confusing!)
Essentially, GMB brings the two together into one product that is administered through a single dashboard, which looks like this:
If your business already has a Google Places listing, the next time you sign in you will be directed to the Google My Business dashboard. If you own a Google+ page, signing into your account will also bring you to it. But don’t take my word for it. The best way see the difference is to sign in.
Not Just for Local Business
Like its predecessors, Google My Business is primarily focused on local businesses that depend on a particular geographic area for their customer base including businesses with up to 10 locations.
For companies not restricted by geography, however, GMB offers a “brand or product” option, which does not include an address or other physical location information.
Tips for Using Google My Business
Google suggests the following tips for business owners using Google My Business.
Post updates, news and special offers on your Google+ page. Customers can +1 and comment on the content, which gives you a direct connection to their feedback.
Promote offers and special events using Google+ Events.
Showcase products or services with pictures. In addition, add a profile photo and set a cover image to complete the look.
Respond to ratings and reviews as the business owner.
Connect with customers via Google Hangouts and Hangouts on Air. Use Hangouts to host a customer appreciation event, announce new products or services, get feedback, or to just hang out!