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welcome-to-google-my-business

Google has been making some big changes to help businesses increase their visibility on Google Search, Google Maps, and Google+ by connecting business information across all of Google’s services. Google is calling the interconnected service Google My Business, which is set to be a one-stop shop which will allow users to access all their applications in one place.

The service will help deal with duplicate entries across Google products by asking users to entire their information one initial time, then populating it into all of Google’s services at once. TechCrunch also reported that “owners can post news events, photos, and other updates they want shared with customers” in an apparent bid to rival Facebook.

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Once you’re signed in and Google has guided you through a tour of the platform, you’ll see a screen that houses your basic information that will appear on Google+, Google Places, and Google Search. From now on, you’ll be able to update business information such as store hours, phone number, or your website URL in one easy to access location.

google-my-business-dashboard

Beyond that page, you’ll be given access to the the really meaty parts of the update. From one screen, you’ll have control of your Google+ profile, from which you can share new text, photos, links, and events. You can also explore Insights, which will help you analyze your visibility, engagement, and audience. This screen also lets you manage your reviews, quickly access your Google Analytics dashboard, and even start a Hangout with the click of a button.

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Notably, this update has already gotten a mobile launch on Android, and it appears the iOS version of Google My Business will be released n the near future.

Google My Business makes it easier than ever for small businesses to take control of their own online presence and helps level the playing ground so that any company can benefit from being online. You don’t have to be a well-established brand to make yourself visible online.

Online MarketingSmall businesses are constantly tasked with making the most of the limited resources they have. If you are handling your online marketing within your company, chances are you are putting a significant amount of resources towards your marketing. While marketing obviously costs money, it also costs time and effort from workers and you likely aren’t getting the results you really want from your efforts.

Hiring an outside firm to take the reins on your online marketing may feel like giving away control of a vital part of your business, but it is more like hiring a driver who will take you where you would like to go while you are able to take care of your own business. If you are concerned about the prospect of enlisting an outside agency to handle or assist with your marketing, you might consider all the following ways hired marketing services can help your brand.

1) Save Time for Everyone

No matter the size of your team, allowing an outside party to take over marketing frees up time which can be better devoted to your own service. You will no longer have to invest the hours on writing marketing material, engaging your consumers on social media, or creating and managing all your email lists. With those tasks taken care of, your team can use their skills where they are really needed.

2) Gain an Outside Perspective

It is impossible for a business owner to ever distance themselves far from their business. The love of the industry, hard-earned skills, and personal investment in success all drive successful businesses, but they can also obscure your ability to see what exactly attracts your customers. Your perspective on the parts of your business that are most attractive will automatically be biased, so it can be important to have a set of extra eyes to give a professional and non-biased opinion. Marketing professionals understand consumer behaviors and how to attract and convert interested visitors, and they can use that knowledge to come up with unique angles you may not notice alone.

3) Leverage Built-In Expertise

If you are small enough to not have an actual marketing department, but you are still asking someone in your company to handle the online marketing, chances are they have other responsibilities. It is common for business owners to try to handle the marketing while they balance a million other responsibilities, or to have several team members who also work as customer service reps, salespeople, bookkeepers, or human resources. Hiring a third-party allows these members of your team (or yourself) to put their skills where they are most valuable, and you gain more professional and focused marketing in return.

4) Access to Specialized Technology

Your company likely uses a few platforms and technologies for various functions, including online marketing. But, how many marketing-specific programs do you use? Most likely, the answer is few to none. But, professional marketing services partner you with professionals who are well-versed with the latest technology designed specifically to improve the impact of marketing. Best of all, you won’t have to invest thousands of dollars in analytics and automation programs.

5) Do More With Less

One of the biggest drawbacks of handling your own marketing is a loss of efficiency. In-house marketing usually focuses on a few channels, but it also tends to miss other channels with huge potential for your business. It simply is impossible to handle maintaining a website while managing a PPC campaign, running several social media accounts, and trying to create insightful and useful blog content. You will either end up with low-quality output, an overwhelmed team, or both. Outsourcing the work allows you to cover all your bases and emphasize those with the best results for you, while optimizing those that are struggling. You will receive more back from your investments, with less effort and stress on your team.

High Voltage

For companies looking for an SEO, the process can be confusing. There is a lot of jargon that the uninitiated business owner likely doesn’t know, and the field is absolutely full of companies offering what initially look like the same thing. But, as they say, the devil is in the details.

There are certain things the uninformed local business owner can keep an eye out for to help the process. Stoney deGeyter knows these warning signs as well as anyone, as he writes about small business SEO all the time, and has seen more than a few SEOs offering questionable or outdated methods.

Some SEOs will advertise that they can get you ranked on a selection of websites like MSN, Ask.com, or AltaVista. The more search engines they can get you on, the better right? Nope. I personally have seen sites offering to get you on MSN rankings which is an immediate red flag considering MSN isn’t a search engine anymore. It changed to Bing years ago. Ask.com is the fourth most used search engine and it only pulls in around 3-percent of all searches. The point is, if they can’t get you on Google or Bing, they won’t actually be able to help you much.

Another misleading promise is to get your site the number one spot in the rankings, no matter what. If this was possible, SEO would be stunningly easy, but it is not possible and SEO is far too competitive and complex for any guarantee of this kind to be anything but a bluff. SEO companies have no direct control over where search engines rank sites. Our job isn’t to achieve a certain ranking, but to get your page ranking as high as possible over numerous keywords in a competitive market. A good SEO should certainly be able to raise your ratings, but you can’t expect to get the top ranking for “local restaurant” just because a company promised it.

One way to tell if an SEO is out of touch with the current SEO climate is to look to see if they advertise search engine or directory submission services. This went out of vogue in 1998, but there are still companies proclaiming their services as if they are useful. Aside from Pay-Per-Click, and Pay-To-Be-Included type results, the only way to get your site found is to design it to be found. There is a reason Google doesn’t have a submission option. They haven’t been needed in years.

There are tons of other warning signs to watch out for, and deGeyter shares four more in his article. Unfortunately, SEO has just enough bad eggs that uninformed local business owners are often taken advantage of with false promises or downright ineffective methods. Some are actively trying to pull one over on innocent business owners, some are just out of touch with current SEO, but either way they aren’t worth your dollar.