Combining Google+ with the updates that occurred to Places in February, Google has introduced a new uniform interface called My Business. This update is designed to help local businesses and brands manage their presence, to be found and to connect with customers across the Google Search, Maps and Social platforms.
With any update there is always an element of unknown, however we explore what’s changed and what it means for businesses today.
What’s changed in Google My Business?
The change may be subtle at first, especially if your business used Google Places or Google+ Pages previously. Existing users will automatically be upgraded to the My Business interface when they next log in.
The main point of difference between the My Business interface and what businesses have currently been using is the streamlining of all Google’s business features into one. In addition more consideration has been given to the various types of businesses out there.
Now businesses can create a page based on the type of business they are:
This has caused pain for businesses trying to keep an active presence on Google in the past (especially those that feel under the Service Area and Brand categories). The benefits in terms of SEO and digital marketing campaigns are yet to be fully explored, but with these changes we’ll probably start seeing positive impacts for small / medium businesses.
What do these changes mean?
Local search has always been important to business, especially for small – medium businesses. Google My Business seems to be the next evolution in the local search environment.
With all the recent changes it seems Google is really ramping up the importance of local search, social presence and consumer interaction in online marketing campaigns. If you haven’t already you should probably look at your businesses’ current marketing strategy and the importance placed on local search and social media. It certainly isn’t a replacement of other online marketing avenues, however it is no longer something that can be ignored or de-prioritise.
What are the new and improved My Business features?
Under the My Business portal business owners will be able to access and integrate a host of features (most already existing Google products).
The My Business interface allows:
- Better management of information across Google Search, Maps and Google+
- Easier interaction between businesses and customers
- Businesses to track and respond to reviews across the web including Google+
- Upload more photos in a more visually coherent way or upload a virtual tour
- Get better insight reports through a new Social Analytics feature
- Easily view information from YouTube and Analytics
- Set up marketing campaigns quickly with Adwords Express
- Organise and connect with users via Google Hangouts
- Update on-the go with iOS and Android apps