Google has been honing its small business products for years, a process that has just as often been confusing for small business owners as it has been helpful. Now that confusion should be drastically reduced with the release of Google My Business.
Unlike previous Google product releases, the GMB in many ways isn’t a new product itself; rather, it’s more like a super streamlined dashboard giving you easy access to all of its existing products. It’s a crucial shift, given just how many products there are to take advantage of.
Even the savvy users of Google small business products are likely to discover aspects of features they didn’t even know existed, particularly when it comes to more actively engaging customers in your online efforts.
To make the most of the new platform and increase customer interactions, we highly recommend reading this guide to Google My Business, as well as the following 8 tips.
1. Fill Out Your Business Information
First things first: you’ve got to have a very rich page if you’re going to make the most of Google My Business. (Note: any information you enter here will apply across all Google channels you use, so your customers will find the same details in search as they will in Google+ or on YouTube).
The more information you add, the more Google’s search algorithms will have to work with in terms of ranking. You’ll also want to make sure you’ve got a good profile and other business photos for Google to add to its carousel, which your customers will find at the top of their search results, along with all of your business contact and location information, in both written and map form.
Together, these features will give your customers an inside glimpse into your business as they’re deciding whether or not to engage with you, and will also make it easy for them to find you in-person when the time comes.
2. Create a Community With Google+
If you already have a Google+ account, the new GMB makes it easier than ever to share any news about company updates and sales, as well as any marketing and content campaigns like games, photos, video glimpses behind the scenes of your business, company events and how-to blogposts.
To get going, all you have to do is log into GMB, enter your content and push “Share update”, right from the dashboard. I don’t know about you, but for me easy access to this kind of tool makes it much more likely that I’ll actually use it.
3. Hangout With Your Customers
Google Hangouts are another fun way to connect with your customers, whether you’re answering their most pressing questions or simply having a taste-off. You can hangout with 10 to 15 customers at a time, and even make it a Hangout on Air, streaming and archiving directly to YouTube so other customers can watch you either now or in the future.
This is a great way to build engagement and community, and it’s also an easy way to create insta-content to be shared on multiple channels. Now it’s easier to host a Hangout than ever, simply by navigating to the bottom of your GMB dashboard and clicking on “Join a Hangout.”
4. Analyze Your Efforts With Insights and Google Analytics
Of course, you can post to G+ and Hangout with your customers as much as you want, but if you’re not analyzing your efforts with some hard numbers, you’re missing out on opportunities and wasting both energy and time.
That’s where the ever useful Insights tool comes in for your G+ page, and Analytics comes in for your presence across all Google products. Both make it easy for you to see how many views you’re getting in general, on specific G+ posts, and on Google Maps searches. It also will show you how deeply customers are engaging; that is, whether or not they’re simply hovering over a link or actually clicking it, staying on your page, and delving deeply into your brand. And of course, there is a demographic breakdown as well.
Altogether, the Insights and Analytics tools will help you pinpoint just who is engaging with your brand, what kind of content they like, and how frequently they like to see it, so that you can better target them in the future. There’s no sense, after all, in laboring over a web presence no one will engage with!
5. Actively Respond to and Encourage Reviews
Whether you love reviews or hate them, they’re going to happen. Therefore, from an online marketing perspective, you want to make it as easy as possible for customers to leave them, as many new customers makes key purchasing based solely on what other people are saying. You can do that easily with GMB simply by registering your business so that customers can add their rating just by googling your name.
Again, easy access to the tool in your dashboard makes promoting reviews on your G+ page easy to do. This feature also makes it much easier to manage your reviews even across other platforms like Yelp, see how customers are rating your competitors. With so much data at your fingertips, no review will slip through the cracks. This will help you more easily respond to promote positive reviews, while mitigating any negative reviews with empathy, kindness, and discounts.
6. Capture Your Audience’s Attention With YouTube
You probably already know that video content is highly engaging for your customers. This is true whether you’re offering how-to tips, curating video contests for your followers, reposting expert content or having an employee do a daily video.
The GMB dashboard provides an instant snapshot of your YouTube channel stats, including visits, clicks and views. It’s also easy to access the channel itself, so you can add more content — hopefully strategically targeted after you’ve analyzed these stats!
7. Make an AdWords Express Account
It should come as no surprise that at the bottom of the GMB dashboard is a button that will bring you to an AdWords account; after all, that’s how the company brings in its revenue.
The Express version is a useful new feature for small business owners, as it will allow you to quickly create campaigns to capture keywords without having to think too deeply about the process. In a way these are much like Facebook ads. Simply write your ad and set your budget, and AdWords will make sure the right customers see your ad when it is most relevant.
8. Go Mobile
Just as many of your customers are most likely browsing your brand online, Google My Business will soon allow you to do the same with iOS and Android apps. The streamlined dashboard is essential for a mobile platform, allowing you to more easily swipe through all of the tools and data you need to manage your online presence from wherever you are.
With Google My Business, you’ll find all of the best Google tools ready for you, just by logging into a centralized dashboard. That makes management of your online presence fun and easy, all with the world’s most powerful search engine to back you as you build engagement. Good luck!