You would be forgiven for not understanding the entire backstory of Google’s services when it comes to syncing information on local businesses with its search, maps and social network. The introduction of Google+ rang the death knell for Google Places, which was replaced in 2012 by Google+ Local and has now changed again. In June 2014 Google, in an attempt to streamline how businesses can add and update their information, introduced Google My Business.
Regardless of what Google call it or how exactly it functions, the potential benefits for your business remain largely the same. You have the ability to control what information Google displays when people search for your brand or for local services relevant to you.
Take for example the London Vision Clinic, a business that offers laser eye surgery in London. A search for their business name has them as the number one result, but because they are in a highly competitive field, the paid ads have far greater prominence.
But, as you’ll see on the right of the page, the addition of a map, a telephone number, opening hours, reviews and even better a picture of one of their surgeons, helps make their listing the most engaging part of the page.
This has obvious benefits for a company dealing with customers face-to-face, but also offers much to online-only brands or B2Bs. When someone wants to know about your brand, they might start with your website and find beautiful design and great content, but what about when they search elsewhere? If they find business listings with scant information, no pictures and out of date or incorrect contact details, they are left with a negative impression of your brand.
Also, reviews are no longer just for restaurants – customers have the ability to award you a star rating and leave feedback that is incredibly prominent in business searches. Taking control of this information is not just about making your details visible, but is also key for brand management.
Implementing Google My Business
1. Go to google.com/business, click ‘Get onto Google’ while signed into your relevant company Google account.
2. Enter your business name and details in the form (below) and select the most appropriate category.
3. You will then be prompted to request a verification code, which needs to be posted to the address you are attempting to claim.
4. Once it has arrived the code can be entered via your ‘My Business’ Google+ page (https://plus.google.com/dashboard), where you can also edit any of your business details.
5. This also gives you access to any website analytics associated with your Google account, insights about your Google+ page and the opportunity to read and reply to any reviews of your business. You will also use this page to share updates or content on Google+.
6. If done correctly your details will be displayed as below on the knowledge graph, with a marker on Google Maps. A marker will not necessarily appear for a general address search, only for searches for your brand name or relevant service.
7. If you have more than ten locations you can add additional addresses to the page by accessing google.com/local/manage and entering the respective details under ‘add a location’.
Existing Google+ Pages
If you have an existing Google+ brand page, you may now have two separate Google+ pages with your information on. It is not currently possible to merge two pages, but you can migrate the verified local data to an existing brand page.
Start by logging in to your Google+ account, select Pages from the navigation on the left, choose your local page (the one that is verified by a tick) and click Manage this page.
Now choose Settings and scroll down to Link a different page to this location and then choose your main Brand Page that you would like to now connect to Google Maps.
(More detailed step-by-step guide – http://www.hallaminternet.com/2014/merge-google-brand-page-google-local-page/)
NB: The ‘owner’ of the two pages must also be the same, to change ownership from one Google account to another you can go to the relevant page, to settings and to the ‘managers’ tab.
If your existing page has no reviews or few followers and updates it may be easier to just start afresh with the new page.