A few weeks ago, we announced integration of Google My Business in eClincher. Some of our customers responded, “Cool! What’s that?”
There’s broader familiarity with Google Plus as a social media service, and you might even recall the early contender Google Buzz. Google My Business is distinctive. It combines aspects of social media engagement with the prominence of Google for search purposes, and has great value for business building and customer interaction.
If people are searching for you it’s increasingly likely their very first impressions will not be your home page, but the Google business listing they encounter. It’s what comes up on the right side of the browser, like when you’re searching for a famous person and see the Wikipedia abstract bio. Content like this can be crafted using Google My Business and also drives descriptive and media content that show up in Maps.
The good news is that Google My Business allows you to manage your appearance. You can control your business’ description, presentation and structured data like location and open hours. Really, it’s part of your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts. Plus it’s a forum for customer ratings, reviews and communications.
While Google My Business deserves your attention even though it often gets overlooked relative to Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter. The service is unique in the dual positioning that balances aspects of both social media and web presence. Tight integration with Google search and Google Maps means high visibility.
We’ve already posted on how to set up Google My Business and how to manage it with eClincher. It’s a timely and important topic. This particular blog post is about strategic consideration of GMB as part of your overall web presence and as part of your social media engagement.
Five keys to Google My Business as overall web presence
1. Own your search results
The content on the right side has Google My Business data including a descriptive sentence towards the top. It doesn’t get any more SEO than guaranteed positioning at the top. This one’s pretty appealing, if you’re into things that are “lively”, “creative” and “sleek”. So Umami Burger gets that nice promotional messaging right there, and on the left side there’s even more promotional descriptive content (“Eat at the best . . “) from the company’s web site. If nothing’s put into Google My Business, the right side does try to pull content from a best source, like Wikipedia if available. Also, be aware that if you don’t take ownership of and confirm your Google My Business identity, others can impact these descriptions, as indicated by the “Suggest an edit” link in the bottom-right of this screenshot.
2. Upgrade Maps to sell for you
A red pointer indicating precise location helps me get somewhere. Attractive photography and description about what’s waiting for me at that place is that much more likely to get me to go. With GMB content, Google Maps advances from being utilitarian for customers to being enticing.
3. Vital details and features prominently presented for customers
GMB is versatile. The above shot shows a business availing its day-to-day open hours within Google, and for a menu of what’s available, there’s a link to the relevant page on the company’s web site (although menu content can also be entered to appear in search results without requiring clicking to a different page). Another example of the service’s versatility is in the Umami Burger example in #1 above. They’re choosing to incorporate a Find A Table button in their GMB results, linking to reservation functionality. You can even get a “buy” button into your search results page.
4. Key Insights data
If it’s from Google, there are going to be analytics, right? Yes. Get a sense of how people are finding you, and what actions they’re tending to take, like viewing your photos, clicking your buttons, or calling you directly.
5. Real-time guidance on Events
This is #5 on the “web presence” list because it’s trending towards social media sorts of features that start just below this paragraph. Basically, this is a capability to make search results more current. If your business holds events of any sort, keep the information updated and your customers will immediately know not just what you do and where you’re located, but also what specific upcoming opportunities your business makes available.
Five keys of Google My Business as a social media service
1. Updates highlight what’s going on now
It doesn’t get any more social media than food pics, right? GMB includes capabilities post with all of the presentation and engagement functionality you might expect. More timely, informative, beautiful and actionable content shows up in your search results. Get good enough at this and your customers will be drawn to the posts you put on GMB to stay on top of what you’re up to.
2. Photo stream
This is another area where GMB finally puts businesses in position to drive what people see. Google Image search can be great. And it can also sometimes show random content with bizarre (or no) relevance to the business being searched. Owners can use GMB to present their companies in the best light, and keep updating it with new and fresh photos to show how dynamic the company is, and to keep people coming back to check out what’s new.
3. Questions and answers
Questions are, more and more, the language of search. In addition to putting questions into a search box, there may be more to ask once the results are delivered. GMB puts questioners directly in contact with business owners. This has great utility as it highlights answers for something that might get asked again, and it demonstrates committed responsiveness to customers.
4. Interactions with reviewers
It’s great that GMB let’s you prominently enter and shape how your business is described and presented. But of course the most credible perspective can come from your customers. Terrific, but maybe you have an issue with what’s being described, or just want to express appreciation. Great, the service’s social capabilities include highlighting responses from the owner on yet another useful format of presenting information about your business.
5. Social media launching point
GMB avails almost everything you want to present about your business: location, description, relevant details, functional buttons, images, Q&A, reviews . . . What else is there? Well there’s your business’ presence elsewhere online, like the major social media services besides GMB. Those too can be easily accessed through one click. Google continues to prioritizes being a useful and effective launching point for anything people want to find out about your business, in addition to being an effective social media service in its own right.