Google’s local platforms have undergone many changes. From the older “Google Places” system, to the more recent Google+ Local, and a few products in between, the overall Google local landscape has become confusing for many local business owners.
In an attempt to simplify the system and get more local businesses actively using Google’s tools, Google has now launched a new system called Google My Business. This platform has the same basic functionality as past systems, but is hopefully simpler and more streamlined.
The need to have multiple Google+ pages, or a Google+ page and a Google Places listing, is now gone. The My Business interface is now a simple unified platform for managing your local business on Google. You just need the one single My Business profile to access all of Google’s local business marketing opportunities.
If you haven’t yet taken the steps to “get on Google”, the My Business platform should make it easier than ever. Just head over to www.google.com/business and follow the prompts. You’ll need to signed in to your Google account, and from there you’ll have the choice of what type of page to create. Although the process overall is fairly simple, there are a few important steps business owners should follow to get the most value from the My Business platform.
- Claim Your Business. The first step for local business optimization is to claim your listing. What does this mean? Basically, if you’re running a brick-and-mortar business that’s been in operation for more than a month or two, Google probably already knows about your business. You don’t need to create an entirely new profile – you just need to “claim”, or take control of, the listing that Google’s already created. To do this, you need to verify that you really do own the business – you can do this usually by getting a phone call at your main business number, or by receiving a postcard with a PIN at your business address. Once this is done, you’ll have officially claimed your location, and you can control all your business details on Google.
- Fill Out Your Profile. The new My Business platform makes it pretty easy to complete your profile. The major point to keep in mind is that both for SEO reasons as well as overall user experience, you should aim to get your My Business page to 100% completion. This means writing a description for your business, choosing categories, uploading photos, and more. Although Google makes it pretty clear how to get this done, Search Engine Land also has a nice simple guide to getting to 100% completion.
- Post Updates Regularly. The My Business platform still behaves like the overall Google+ system, in that business owners can post updates on their pages, in a “newsfeed” format pretty similar to Facebook. We encourage business owners to keep their business pages updated with regular posts and content – it’s easy enough to just copy over your Facebook posts onto Google, assuming you’re already posting on Facebook. While it does take some investment to develop an overall social media strategy, small businesses should certainly consider this an important aspect of their overall marketing plan.
Overall, the My Business platform has been well received by the SEO and SMB community. It’s a simple interface that helps to clear up some old confusions, and offers ease of use to business owners who are just getting started online. The end product of My Business pages is also pretty nice, with fully completed pages looking clean and attractive, and allowing business owners to present a strong image to potential customers online.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Google My Business platform, or need advice in creating a local online marketing strategy, the team at Tech-Critic can help. Contact us today for a free local visibility analysis.