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Your Google My Business listing is one of the best ways to make sure potential customers in your area find your business. The listings provide the information about where your business is, your hours, and what types of products or services you offer, and the listings often appear above any other regular search results.

Now, Google is making it easier than ever to maintain and edit your GMB listings by letting you manage them straight from the search results pages.

When you search for your business while logged into the Google account associated with your GMB listing, you will now be shown a new dashboard where you can edit your business information, add new stylish photos, share posts about your business, and even see how many views your listing is receiving.

If you are like the many businesses who have incomplete listings or haven’t updated your business info in years, now is the time to take action. Google highlights a number of reasons that having a thorough and informational listing is important for local businesses in their announcement, including:

  • More than 80% of online searchers use the web to find local information.
  • Businesses with complete listings on Google are twice as likely to gain customer trust, and
    • 38% more likely to attract in-store visits
    • 29% more likely to see a purchase

local-businessBusiness owners have more reason than ever to claim their Google+ business pages, because Google has finally decided to connect business pages with local listings on Google Maps.

The change allows business owners to have a more coherent presence across the web as well as improve the ability of searchers to find them. The process connects your current page to Google Maps and applies the business information, including the business address, the Google Maps reviews, business hours and more from to your page.

A large number of businesses have more than one Google+ page listed in their Google+ manager page, so this will also help clean up the clutter by combining at least two of these pages.

Google explains in detail how to connect your Google+ business page to your Google Maps verified listing on the help page, as well as instructions for creating a local page if you have yet to add your business to Google.

Pages that are newly connected to maps will display the name and verification badge from the former local page, as well as showing the business information such as hours of operation and phone numbers. The pages will also show reviews from the former local page, but will not show prior owner responses to local reviews.

As you have likely noticed by now, Google merged Google Plus and Google Places. This has changed the way that Places listings are showing up in a few ways. One of the changes that is most noticeable is the review system – it used to be an easy to see 5-star system. What happened?

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As posted in article by PC World, even Google can make errors on occasion.  In this case, some statistics for users of Google Business Center were sent to incorrect Business Center users.  This included information such as how often the business had appeared in listings, how many times the business was clicked and follow-through clicks on the business site itself.

This error was found to have been by human mistake, not an error directly with any of Google’s systems.  Google was on top of it and corrected it quickly.  They published a written statement to acknowledge the error and that when they discovered it, said they paused all emails to Business Center users until they could determine the cause of the issue.

More people are learning about the changes that came with the latest Google AdWords update.  One example that I think is a major one is the update combining Google AdWords with Google Local (also posted on DailySEOTip), but there are a few other changes that are visible.

One of the other changes that I haven’t touched on yet is the adding of the Google Merchant account details to AdWords ads.  This can actually add product listings into your Google AdWords ad.  Videos are also being seen inside ads, as well.

Images of all of these can be found in a post on Search Engine Land.  For a lot of people, the way to take advantage of these are very easy, and are very worthwhile.

Google AdWords has had an update recently, and it now appears you can actually advertise and have your address appear on Google Maps with your ad:

Example of AdWords on Google Maps

Example of AdWords on Google Maps

This involves having Google Local set up (also known as Local Business Center).  If you don’t know how to do this, you can check out my earlier post on putting your business on Google Maps.

Once you have a business account set up and associated with the same address you have on your AdWords account, you can get your ad to show up on Google Maps by editing your Campaign settings and then under Locations, open the “Show relevant addresses with your ads (advanced)” option.

AdWords Campaign Setup

AdWords Campaign Setup

Here the easy way to do it is to choose the first option, which is to select your Google Local Business Center account, which will put your address information into your ad and also put a matching blue “pushpin” on Google Maps for you.

The alternate choice you have (if you don’t have an associated Google Local account set up) is to put in the address and phone number manually, in the second option here.  This will also display this information with your ad.

Keep in mind, the only way this will work is if the keyword that is being searched on is relevant to the locality your address is in.  For example, a city name.  (Just the way Google Maps normally appears in search results.)  If your keywords match this type of query, then your address and phone number will appear with your ad, in addition to a little point on Google Maps.  And this is great news for anyone who does local advertising.

It looks like with the latest AdWords update, they’re starting to put any local advertisements in Google AdWords into Google Maps.  You can see images of some examples of that here, in Search Engine Land.

The ads appear almost the same as Google Local listings, only with blue numbered pushpins instead of red lettered pushpins.  I’ll most definitely have to look further into AdWords to see exactly how to take advantage of this new update.

It still surprises me how many businesses are completely unaware of Google Local.  The benefits of putting your business in Google Local are enormous, especially for businesses that run primarily a regional business.

To start – Google Local is essentially the cheap/easy way to do SEO.  It’s not exactly doing any traditional SEO, but by doing this, you’re able to rank above the rest of the organic listings (in most cases), and for quality keywords.  You can see an example of it any time you search for a business listing in a local area, or often you can simply enter a city or zip code plus a particular market keyword (such as dentist, or plumber).  When you do this, Google Local entries will show up, next to a map.

To get your business listed in this way is fairly easy to do.  Begin at http://www.google.com/local.  From here, you’ll want to click on the link that says “Put your business on Google Maps”.  This will take you to a page that lists all of the entries to put information down about your company, such as name, address, phone, and web site, plus a description.

At this point Google will search to see if you have any listings posted yet.  If you haven’t done any entries into Google Local or Google Maps, then you shouldn’t find a match.  Add the new entry, and go on.

This next page is crucial to take advantage of Google Local for the SEO benefits it has.  You can show up in organic listings by putting proper keywords into the “Categories” section.  You can have up to five categories here.  By doing some good keyword research, you can determine which keyword phrases would be best to place here to ensure you get good, quality traffic from local searchers.

The other information is good to put if you can.  In particular, placing a video or image will help you by distinguishing you from your local competitors, as these will often show up with your Local listing.

Once you’ve completed this information, you’ll have to confirm by entering a PIN code Google will give you, either by giving it to you online to enter it over the phone, or by sending it to you through mail to your business address to enter it online.  Once you’ve done this, your Google Local business listing will go live.

For extra marketing push, you can choose to add coupons to your Google Maps listing.  Simply go back to http://www.google.com/local/add, only select the “Coupons” tab at the top.  Here you can add coupons of any kind to help bring customers in.

Now that you’re set up, your business name and link will show anytime anyone within the same area as your business types in the keywords you selected, or types in these keywords next to the name of your city or a close-by zip code.  This can be very effective if you’ve selected good keywords, and even without full SEO, you’ll still appear at the top of the search results.

If you notice an increase in business from this, it may be wise to consider doing full SEO, as your customer base appears to be using the web to find business in your market.  By increasing traffic through SEO, you’ll be increasing business further – and for national or international companies, this is a must for competing on a national/international scale.  Even without SEO, this is a good start to get traffic to your business site, and to help increase profits!