What Is Google My Business? Tips for SMBs

For many small business owners, managing and syncing all their information on Google+ and Google+ Local was becoming redundant and time consuming. Google’s response to this is Google My Business. So, what exactly is Google My Business? It’s a centralized place to manage your business across all of Google.

This new platform eliminates the need for multiple business profiles, making it easier than ever to create and optimize your presence across Google Search, Maps, and Google+, and to manage it via mobile, too! From this one dashboard, you can edit your business info, share updates, respond to reviews, and view your results, all of which can help you get found by more local consumers, no matter how they use Google to search.

Here are some best practices to keep in mind when using Google My Business to manage your business’ presence on Google.

Set Up Your Google My Business Profile

The good news is that if you already had a Google Places for Business or Google+ Business Page, your account will be automatically transferred to Google My Business. If you don’t already have a Google account, get started by visiting the Google My Business website, selecting “Get On Google,” and searching for your business name and address.

Why is getting on Google so important for your small business? For one, claiming your business listing gives you even more visibility in local search results when consumers search on Google and Google Maps, even on mobile. In addition, when you have an optimized listing that’s consistent with your other citations across the Web (like your other local listings) and is linked to your website, Google can better determine the relevance of your business when determining search results.

This tour walks you through how to set up a new Google My Business profile.

Add Compelling Images

Now that you have a Google My Business profile, it’s important to make it stand out with images that showcase your business. That’s because even with this update, Google continues to focus on images as a way to attract searchers to local businesses. For instance, local carousel results, map results, business listings, and Google+ all prominently feature images, so it’s still important that your strategy focuses on using professional, compelling photos in your Google profile. Having images with keyword-optimized filenames can boost your Google profile in search results and entice both Web and mobile searchers to view it for more information. You’ll also need to upload an optimized profile photo and cover image so that people who find you on Google+ want to learn more and recommend your page to others.

If you think your business isn’t a great candidate for photography, a few types of pictures you should consider taking include: the inside of your store, new products or service offerings, your staff or team, participation in a local event, before-and-after pictures of your work, and satisfied customers. And sharing visual content like memes, infographics, quotes, and videos on Google+ can help you drive more engagement and further your reach with local consumers.

Monitor & Manage Reviews

Like it or not, customer reviews aren’t going away any time soon. But with Google My Business, you can monitor and respond to the reviews you receive, all from the central dashboard. When you’re logged in to the dashboard, Google My Business displays your overall rating, the number of reviews you have on Google, and the number of reviews for your business from other review sites around the Web.

Using the Web version of Google My business or the mobile app, you can view and respond to reviews and even see stats about your ratings over time so you can identify how they are impacting your reputation. Since reviews can have a huge impact on whether a prospective customer will do business with you, it’s just as important as ever to ask happy customers to leave you reviews and respond to negative reviews, as well as take any necessary action to improve the customer experience.

To learn more about managing your online reputation, check out our guide to navigating your online reputation.

Leverage Consumer Insights

Google My Business comes with lots of new insights about how your small business is performing in the search results. The Google My Business insights are broken up into three sections: Visibility, Engagement, and Audience, which you can view via the Web or the Google My Business app for Android or iPhone.

Visibility

The visibility tab is probably the most valuable to a small business. The main focus of this section is to help you understand just how often people are discovering your business on Google search, maps, and Google+, including how many times people saw your business information and how often they clicked to your website from a Google search result. Plus, if you have a physical address, you can also see how many requests for driving directions you receive and where people who visit your place of business are coming from. It’s important to review these results to determine how effective your listings are at bringing local consumers to your business and make updates to your profile to help you drive even more traffic from Google’s local search results.

Engagement 

The engagement and audience reports show you user activity on your Google+ page. The engagement report shows you how many views, comments, shares, and +1s you receive on each post.

Audience

The audience insights show you how many followers you have on your page, as well as a demographic breakdown of your audience. As there is some correlation between your activity on Google+ and your visibility in Google search results, this emphasizes the need to cultivate followers and post relevant content on the site.

What do you think of the new Google My Business? Will you be using it to help your business get found online?

 

Tamara Weintraub

Tamara is a content marketing manager at ReachLocal with over 7 years experience in B2B marketing and has a nerd-level affinity for software and technology. She specializes in helping local businesses succeed online, writing and learning about Google, search advertising, SEO, and social media marketing. When she's not writing about online marketing, you can find her watching cult TV and hanging out with her Doberman.

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