Of all the online activities that consumers actively participate in, using search engines has always been one of the top survey responses. As more and more businesses begin to focus their marketing efforts online, the simple question of ‘where do I start?’ is often asked. A simple solution can be to utilize various established social networks to let people know about your business online. For example, Facebook allows you to share your business information and post updates while interacting with your customers, Twitter allows you to post impromptu sales or discount codes to your followers, and Pinterest and Instagram allow you to share photos of products or events that are happening in real time.
But what if you want to establish your brand by sending customers to an official website? A solution like WordPress allows you to easily manage content on your website, but it may make sense to get support from a web development and design agency to help define your brand and tailor the website to your business’ needs. Once you have your website up and running, now what? How do you get people to come to it? Google My Business was made to answer that very question.
What is Google My Business
According to Google, “Google My Business is the fast and easy way for businesses, products, brands, artists, and organizations to manage their online presence with Google.” It may not provide the solutions a full service digital marketing agency may offer, but it’ll at least give you the foundation of how to get found online with very little set up.
Google My Business is actually a combination of a number of existing Google services including Google Places for Business and Google+ local pages. The new dashboard allows businesses to provide basic information like your address, phone number, website, photos and map data. In addition, it also aggregates user review data as well as other metrics that can provide valuable insights to your online presence.
Why should you Sign Up?
The easiest answer is that it’s free! Similar to Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools, Google My Business is a free tool that provides many useful features and data that can help your business succeed. If you did not previously have a Google Places or Google+ account, you can sign up for a new Google My Business account.
If free is not compelling enough, consider it a much needed customer service tool for your business. Since the reviews to your business are displayed in a very prominent manner, on the listing as well as the search engine results pages (SERPs), it is imperative to be active and respond to any negative reviews as soon as they happen. It can also be a customer acquisition tool for people that may not necessarily know about your business but find you via Google Maps or through a Google search. Having positive reviews, with compelling images of your business may drive them to your business instead of your nearby competitors.
Benefits & Features
In addition to the core benefits mentioned already (business information, reviews, photos), Google My Business provides unique insights not available elsewhere.
- Views: How many times your business and its content were viewed.
- Clicks: Clicks for driving directions or to your website from local search results.
- Driving Directions Request: Areas where requests for driving directions for your business came from.
If you are active on Google+, you will also see engagement data on your posts, as well as useful follower information. Google also released an Android and iOS app to manage your business information on the go.
Final Thoughts: Mobile Search
According to an ExactTarget survey that asked what activities did users perform at least once a day, 76% and 70% of respondents said searching on the internet on their smartphone and tablet, respectively. As users begin to move away from desktop searches and into mobile, it is imperative that businesses ensure that their website is responsive for a better user experience but also utilize tools like Google My Business to make sure customers are finding your business online.