At the beginning of June, Google announced the introduction of ‘Google My Business’, the new account for companies to target their local market. This service replaces Google Places and should be of significant interest to business owners or online marketing managers who are interested in maintaining a strong local presence on Google Search.
Over the past year, the original Google Places listings have undergone a series of changes, with some businesses having been forced to re-claim and re-verify their listings multiple times, either via a postcard or telephone PIN code as Google launched new feature updates and modifications. In addition, some companies have seen their user reviews and other valuable content disappear or get overwritten as these local listings have been ‘enhanced’.
Finally, last month Google announced the launch of ‘Google My Business’, the long awaited and, so far, much-lauded redesign of its local business portal. ‘Google My Business’ replaces both the original Google Places for Business interface and the more recent equivalent within Google+ (Local), consolidating several features into a friendlier interface.
Local search had become a difficult system for business owners to manage, particularly since it was integrated more closely with the Google+ social network interface. This was ironic, as Google has poured unlimited resources into providing accuracy and usability for the consumer, endeavouring to ensure they have the gold standard for Local search, which is way ahead of the competition. It wasn’t a money-spinner though, and as a free service not tied to the consumption of ads, Google’s small business portal was permitted to languish.
From the business owner’s point of view, the perspective is quite different. Strong representation in Google Maps is the single most important differentiator between businesses who succeed or fail in gaining new customers via local and mobile search. Despite the hurdles, business owners who recognise the benefits have gone to the trouble to navigate the often-complex process, or find someone to do it for them.
So the ‘Google My Business’ account is an improvement and it’s designed to connect local businesses with customers, whether they’re looking on Search, Maps or Google+, and across all types of device. It requires much of the same information as before, with address and contact details, opening hours and brief business information, plus it makes it easier for Google users to rate, review and share business details through the Google+ network.
If you have a business and, in particular, a local target market, you need to ensure that your business has a strong local presence on Google with an up to date and complete business listing. If you need more information or help with this, please contact us now for details.