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Decoding The Mystery of Google My Business

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The Importance of Optimizing Google My Business

Every business owner wants their business to show up in a Google search. Some companies hire an internal team to help with search engine optimization (SEO) efforts while others look to companies like Webspec Design to help their business succeed. SEO success can be defined in a lot of ways and changes from business to business, but the main goal is usually the same: to improve the ranking or frequency in which your business shows up in Google search results.

So why is Google the search engine everyone focuses on? Google was launched in 1998 and in that same year was recognized as the search engine of choice in the Top 100 Web Sites for 1998. The power of Google has continued to grow over the nearly 18 years it has been in existence. Bing came along six years later, which is like several decades in web years, and Yahoo shares the same algorithm, so Google has had the chance to develop leaps and bounds faster than the other two major players in search.

The search experience  has always been a top priority for Google, and they want to help businesses be seen by their potential customers or clients. Giving their users answers to their queries quickly, accurately, and authoritatively is their top priority. That is one of the many reasons why Google offers a place where businesses can optimize their information which in turn is pulled into search engine results for their company. But is it Google+, Google Places, or Google Local? Today it’s known as Google My Business, but it took a little bit of trial and error to get where it is today.

What’s the difference between Google Places for Business, Google+, and Google My Business?

If you’ve found yourself asking this question before, you’re not alone. Google addresses them all on their My Business FAQ page. They state:

If you previously used Google Places for Business or Google+ Pages Dashboard to manage your business information, your account has been automatically upgraded to Google My Business. Google My Business makes it easier than ever to update business information across Google Search, Maps and Google+.

In March of 2004, Google launched Google Places under the name “Google Local.” It started off as a way for small businesses to help local customers find them online. In 2006 Google started to combine Google Local with Google Maps, and chose to release Google Places in 2010. Google Places had a fairly short life, ending in mid-2012 when Google chose to release Google+ Local.

google timeline

Are you still with me?

Google Places was great in theory, a very similar concept to what Google My Business is today, but still ran into problems. Local search was taking off and Google Places just couldn’t hang anymore. Google+ Local was launched in 2012 in hopes to merge all business listings into one. Your map, logo, photos, videos, company summary, and more could all finally be found by customers in one place. Not only that, but the business owners only had to worry about optimizing their Google+ Local content in one place.

Google My Business was announced in June of 2014. They created the program to get more small business owners online by offering a one-stop shop to manage business listings in search by using Google+. When Google My Business was released they stated that all existing Google Places and Google+ Local Page users will automatically be upgraded to Google My Business. Businesses should now all be updating their information and connecting with customers through their Google My Business page. Google+ still exists, but it’s main focus is on individuals rather than businesses.

Embracing Google My Business

Have you started embracing Google My Business yet? Here are a few reasons why you should start focusing on using Google’s current integration platform for businesses.

It’s free. The only thing Google My Business costs is time. There is no charge to set up or maintain your Google My Business Page.

Customers can find your information quickly. Google will pull information from your Google My Business page when customers are searching for you online. Your location information including a map and photos are automatically pulled so customers don’t have to poke around your website finding your hours or phone number.

Reviews, reviews, reviews. Reviews from your customers are shown in your Google My Business listing. If you’re a business owner you can greatly benefit from customers reviewing your services or products. Not only can your customers read reviews written by other raving fans, they can also leave a review themselves. Another bonus? You can respond to customer feedback to let them know how much you appreciate their kind words or address any negative experiences they may have had.

It complements your existing website. Google My Business doesn’t take place of an existing website; it simply complements it. If your page is optimized you can easily lead people to your website when they search your business in Google. This is especially helpful in mobile searches since your business information is listed above organic search results.

You can bulk upload locations. If your business has multiple locations, you can easily import, verify, and edit those locations all from one dashboard.

Managing on the go is a breeze. Download the Google My Business app and manage your page from anywhere. The free app allows you to update your hours, share photos, and see insights from your phone or tablet.

Has your business started taking advantage of all that Google My Business has to offer? Are you still confused about what Google+ really does? You’re not alone; commiserate about it in the comments.