Over the past few days, the new Google My Business (GMB) platform has caused a lot of chatter in the search marketing and online reputation management community. In case you haven’t heard, GMB is the new Google Places, the platform that allows businesses to be placed in Google Maps, collect reviews and maintain up-to-date business information. This isn’t fully rolled out, so some businesses won’t have access to the dashboard just yet. Also, some of the new features (listed below) might take a while to make it to your dashboard.
Personally, I’ve run into several problems in the last year concerning Google+ Local Pages and these Google Places listings. There were so many problems that I was immediately drawn to details concerning the new GMB. The only question: will it bring clarity to a problem so frustrating that I’ve considered scraping my face against a brick wall? (Seriously, it’s that bad.)
New Features in Google My Business
Google is finally starting to tackle some of the location management problems they’ve encountered over the past few years. The new GMB platform brings all of the Google+ Local and Google Places information to one place, with some extra perks.
- Connected in one place: We just mentioned this, but now you can edit your business information on Google, share updates with customers and get insights on how people find your business, all from a single dashboard.
- Check business information on the go: A lot of platforms (Facebook included) use to have problems giving businesses control on the go. With the GMB app, you can check customer insights, update your business hours, and share photos with customers, all from your mobile or tablet.
- Monitor reviews in one place: See reviews of your business, respond to them as the owner and track your ratings over time using helpful charts and graphs.
- Gain insights on your customers: Understand how people find your business and interact with your content, so you can reach more of the right customers.
- Managing multiple locations: Once as frustrating as 56k Internet speeds, Google (apparently) found a way to make changes to bulk locations using their new management tool. That’s right, manage access to your locations by adding and removing managers and transferring location ownership. Also, make updates and reach out to your customers using the Google+ page for your location. Note: they’re currently moving existing users to new features in stages. These upgrades will happen automatically and will eventually become available to everyone.
How to Get Online with Google My Business
You can use GMB to get a local business, brand, organization, or artist online, if you haven’t already done so. Let it be known: when you add your local business using GMB, you will in turn create a Google+ local page.
When you create your account with GMB, your information can show up in Google Search, Google Maps and other Google properties, ultimately boosting your search marketing visibility. Choose from one of the two categories of local pages when you sign up:
- Storefront businesses: This is the best option for businesses that serve customers at a physical location, which means a pin will be dropped on your location on Google Maps. Storefront businesses include restaurants, hotels and retail stores.
- Service area businesses: This option is best for businesses that serve customers in an area around their location. With this option, your business area will be highlighted when customers are looking at your location on Google Maps. Example service area businesses include plumbers, taxi services and pizza delivery companies.
- Brand pages: Brands, organizations, artists and other groups can create Google+ pages to reach out to followers, fans and customers on Google. Brand pages are slightly different in that they don’t include an address or other physical information that appears on Google Maps.
Have a company with multiple business locations? Use Google My Business Locations.
Why Exactly Does this Matter?
Let’s pose a few scenarios:
- You have some negative reviews impacting your rating: Using the new GMB, not only can you see what negative reviews say, you can respond to the review as the owner and see the impact negative reviews have on web traffic. You could even resolve a customer’s problem face to face with Google Hangouts that lives within the platform.
- Your online presence is scattered: GMB brings together all of the things in your business’ Google profile, allowing you to combine your brand page, reviews, location, information and social media marketing in one platform. Your customers can see all of this across Google products and even in Google Search.
- You’re rolling out a new ad campaign: Use Google Insights to better segment your customer base. For example, you can see where customers are coming from and use Google’s review service to analyze those that are engaging with your business, whether negative or positive.
Benefits for Brand Pages
Aside from the benefits listed above, a few more brand centric changes are worth pointing out. The cleaner looking management dashboard for brand pages is a clear win here. From this dashboard, managers can do all of the things listed above but gather more insightful information about who’s interacting with brand content. Facebook’s been offering insights to managers for a while now, so Google is clearly playing catch-up. The change might give brands a reason to re-engage with Google+, or at least take another look.