Google My BusinessHow do you create brand recognition? Your answer probably involves a list of techniques that range from native advertising to social media promotions, but there’s one tool in the digital world that marketers are hailing as the new wave of online brand recognition: Google My Business.

What’s so great about Google My Business?

Simply put, this one tool makes it easy for customers to find you online. You can create a business profile that:

  • Tells customers your hours of operation
  • Gives customers directions to you via Google Maps
  • Offers contact information and a link to your company website
  • Provides a place for customers to leave reviews
  • Interacts with your Google+ account so you can engage customers

Sara Zuckerman, marketing manager at Idea Marketing Group, has helped dozens of businesses set up their Google My Business accounts with great results. “I helped an off-the-beaten-path farm restaurant get set up on Google and soon after I received a text message from the owner saying new customers found their business on Google while driving through the area,” she explains. “That’s great news all around.” But what else can Google My Business do for your brand? It’s a powerful tool that allows you to manage multiple marketing outlets in one place.

Help customers find you onlineGoogle My Business search result

Google My Business is the digital equivalent of a half-page ad in the Yellow Pages, but since phone books are all but obsolete, search engines reign supreme. Google My Business provides instant information to your online customers. Here’s what it looks like when a customer searches for your business: “When a search is conducted, the Google My Business result is the most prominent result that will appear on the right hand side of the page,” Jason Parks, owner of digital marketing agency The Media Captain, says. “It essentially serves as a billboard to promote your business.”

Serves as a one-stop Google shop

Google My Business also creates one central dashboard that houses all of your Google toys, Zuckerman says. From the dashboard you can:

  • Access your Google+ account and interact with customers
  • See traffic statistics at a glance
  • Access Google Analytics for a more in depth look at your web traffic
  • Monitor and respond to reviews left on your page

Everything you need is in one place, making it easier and more time efficient for brand managers to get their work done, Zuckerman says. Here’s a look at the dashboard: Google My Business Dashboard

Establish an online reputation

Word of mouth can bring in a lot of customers. With Google My Business, customers can rate your business and leave reviews right on your page. This digital word of mouth helps you establish a reputation online, much in the same way that Yelp works.

Set up Google My Business

If you’re new to the Google party, you can go right to the Google My Business website and follow the prompts to get started. You’ll create a business profile and input your business information. If your business is already on Google, you’ll need to claim your listing and make the necessary updates. If you’ve used Google Places in the past, you’ll need to switch to Google My Business. Before you dive into the Google pool, here are a few tips to make setting up your account easier:

Create a Gmail account

To set up an account, you’ll need a Gmail account. If you want more than one person to have access to this account, create a new Gmail account that everyone can check as opposed to your own email.

Verify your account

Your information won’t instantly show up in search results. Google makes you verify your existence in one of three ways: a snail-mail postcard, a phone call or online via Google Webmaster Tools. Don’t worry about a storefront. Whether you’re a non-profit, an online brand or an etailer, you can still utilize Google My Business even though you don’t have a physical street address.

Optimize your account

Google My Business has a lot of simple features that can add to your online profile. Here are a few tips:

Upload pictures

People are curious, so show them what your business looks like inside and out. If you have physical products or services, make sure you illustrate those, too.

Monitor your account

You shouldn’t just “set it and forget it,” Parks says. Make sure someone is watching the account and engages when necessary.

Try it out

Once your account is set up, try to search your business like a customer would to make sure it looks professional.

Are you using Google My Business? Feel free to add tips or talk about your experience in the comment section below.

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