Google My Business is a significant update for managing your local business on Google Maps and Google+. This online marketing tool is aimed to consolidate the features of Google+ and Places for Business into one easily accessible dashboard.
Business owners will notice the new interface is more convenient and more organized, allowing you to access key business features on one single page. On your main dashboard, you can now edit your Google Maps information, share social updates, respond to customer reviews, and track web analytics.
In order to help you understand the interface, I put together a helpful step-by-step guide detailing the key features for Google My Business.
Identifying Your Business
The first step to using Google My Business is identifying which type of page that you want to create for your business. There are two types of pages available: Local Pages and Brand Pages.
Local Pages are the business listings that will appear in Google Maps, which makes them effective for running your local marketing campaign. However, not every business can apply for a Local Page. You are only eligible if your business operations have a physical address, or if your business serves customers in a local area.
Brand Pages are similar to Local Pages, but they are considered as a separate entity. The main difference is that Brand Pages do not appear in Google Maps. If your business has online-only operations, or if your business does not serve customers directly, you will not be eligible to create a Local Page. However, you can still manage a Brand Page to enjoy the social features of Google My Business.
Creating A New Listing
For new users, you may create your local business listing for free. First, you will be asked to search Google Maps to determine whether you have an existing listing. If your business is not found, you can fill out an online registration form to add your business and manage the listing under your account.
If your business serves customers at their locations, such as plumbers or deliveries, this is classified as a Service Area Business. For these types of businesses, you will be asked to indicate "I deliver goods and services to my customers at their location". You must also input the proximity of your local services.
After submitting the registration form, Google will require mail or phone verification to confirm that your account is authorised to manage this business listing.
Claiming An Existing Listing
If your business already exists in Google, you will be given the option to verify the information and claim the profile. Verification may be required to ensure that your account is authorised to claim this business listing.
Occasionally, you may encounter a situation where your business listing has already been claimed by another user with a different account. In these instances, you must notify the current verified user by requesting administrative rights. You will have the opportunity to submit a troubleshooting ticket to Google Support and send a personal message to the verified account holder.
Afterwards, the Google specialists will investigate the disputed listing, review the account activity, and contact each party for additional information. This could take at least 1-2 weeks to reach a resolution. Once Google has determined that your account is indeed authorised, your ownership request will be granted and you can gain access to the business listing.
Upgrading To The New Dashboard
If you are an existing user on Google Places or Google+ Pages prior to June 2014, you have been automatically upgraded to the new Google My Business dashboard. Please note that Google may have calibrated the data between your dashboard and Google Maps. If there are discrepancies detected, the information in your new dashboard could be updated to the information found on Google Maps. These changes may include your address, website, or categories.
After the upgrade, Google My Business may ask you to review the information for your business, which allows business owners to double check and ensure the accuracy of the information in your dashboard.
Once you gain access to your business listing, you can enjoy several key features available within the Google My Business dashboard.
Business Information: Businesses may use the Google My Business dashboard to manage and edit the information that will be displayed in their listing. This includes the Business Name, Address, Phone Number, Categories, Hours of Operations, Photos, and Business Description.
Please note that the address field is particularly sensitive for Service Area Businesses. Making frequent changes to the business address may result in another round of verification, even if you have previously verified your account.
Web Analytics: Business owners are able to view statistical information about their profile. In addition to viewing the data for impressions, clicks, and new followers, there are also web analytics provided for Visibility (i.e. how many times your photos were viewed), Engagement (i.e. how many times your posts are shared or commented on), and Audience (i.e. demographics of your new followers). These enhanced web analytics will give businesses more knowledge about the visitors that viewed their page.
Social Features: Business owners are able to access a suite of Google+ social features on their dashboard. These features include sharing posts, photos, links, videos, and events. You are able to share your business content with the general public or just your core audience in your Google+ circles.
There is an app developed for Google My Business, allowing you to connect with your data on your mobile device. The app contains the same features as the web service. Here is the download link for the spiffy new app!