Why You Can't Afford to Miss Out on Google My Business
When Google+ first launched, social media analysts weren't quite sure what to do with the service. On the one hand, it was tied to the most popular search engine in the world but on the other hand, it was woefully under-populated and underpowered. Google+ pages, which finally allowed profiles to be linked to business and brands, didn't launch until months after the initial beta opening. To make matters worse, businesses also had to contend with Google Places, Google Local, and Google Maps if they wanted to fully own their social presence on the site. Luckily, that's all changed with Google's launch of Google My Business. This new tool is extremely useful, and after playing with it for a couple of days, I see a few good reasons why businesses shouldn't ignore Google+ anymore.
Getting onto Google is a lot easier
Google used to be annoyingly disjointed when it came to searching for businesses. Whether or not your site or company popped up in a set of search results depended heavily on what part of Google the user was using. You may have worked your butt off on SEO, but that wouldn't matter for local results if you didn't take the steps to get your business onto Google Maps. Now, thankfully, everything is coming together. Google+, Local, Places, and standard search should now work in tandem, making your business much easier to find. With one portal, it'll be much easier to update and manage your listings on Google, which matters because the more content you post, the stronger your Google listing becomes.
You can finally check metrics and the success of posts
The lack of hard data was one of the biggest gripes that marketers had with Google+, so this feature was a long time coming. Again, we are all still trying to figure out how to use Google+. Thanks to YouTube, Gmail, and Google search, Google+ is technically the most visited social media site, but users only spend around three minutes a month on it on average. While Google+ is obviously important from an SEO and search ranking perspective, people don't use it like they use Facebook and Twitter. And most social marketers don't like talking to an empty room. The trick is to maximize the impact of your posts, and the only way to do that is to experiment and see what makes a splash, and that's now possible thanks to Google My Business.
All your reviews can be tracked down
This was probably one of the coolest features I saw on the site. The main portal has a section labeled reviews, and it doesn't just link to reviews on Google+ - it will actually scour the internet and find out where else your business pops up. A study on consumer habits and online reviews found that 85% of those surveyed reported read online reviews for local businesses, and 12% of those surveyed said they ignore online reviews. As a business owner, you naturally want to know what every review says, but it can be hard tracking all of them down. They can pop up on Yahoo Local, Bing, or SuperPages - sites you may not check, but that people obviously use to look up businesses. Being aware of your online reputation is extremely important which is why the review section is quickly becoming my favorite new tool.
Social media analysts have long recommended that businesses create and maintain a Google+ presence if, for no other reason, it boosted SEO. But there were plenty of people who didn't really see much use for the site, and just let their accounts lapse. That changed with the launch of Google My Business. The tools and features alone make the service worth using. If you haven't logged on in a while, do yourself a favor and check out the new portal. Google is working to build Google+, and you owe it to your business to take a few minutes to track down some reviews, post a couple of updates, and bump up your search ranking.
Follow Deborah Sweeney on Twitter