Since its launch in 2011, there has been reluctance among many marketers and non-marketers to embrace Google+ as a preferred social platform. Any mention of Google+ is usually met with an eye roll and the common (often-rhetorical) question: ‘Who even uses Google+?’ What has been lost on some, however, has become an advantage for others, considering the Google-owned social network functions hand-in-hand with local search and organic search display.
You can find local search influence in the Google Carousel, Google Maps, and on mobile devices – all three pull from Google+ and local search.
Google+ commands 300 million users and influences 43% of all Google searches with local query intent. Since the early years of Google’s social network, there have been several updates to increase ease of use. Previously known as Google Places, which became Google+ Local, the platform evolved last week to become Google My Business. The recent launch of Google My Business has changed the way we utilize Google products through the successful integration of social, search, and maps, all of which provide a better experience for customers worldwide (Google My Business is available in 236 countries and 65 languages).
Two of the most important updates in Google+ evolution are the improved user experience and cleaner dashboard operating system, as Local SEO experts have been bemoaning both for years. Google took notice and delivered a strong solution with Google My Business.
Google My Business Updates – in plain English
Google+ Encourages Multi-Media and Sharing
Keeping in rhythm with multi-media advances, the new integration includes a virtual tour of your business with a 360-degree photo of your choosing. Hosting an event? Make it crystal clear through the new event module to all of your followers. To note: Google and Google+ users still like to see interaction with +1’s, so integrating sharable content into your Google+ page is essential.
Google Product Integration
Google My Business also allows users to access AdWords Express, Google Analytics, and Hangouts right in the dashboard. This integration makes it easier for anyone in control of a listing to utilize other Google products in just one click.
Google Insights – The Value of Data
The biggest benefit of the new Google My Business platform is the richer local data now provided for each listing owned. Verified businesses have more access to data than ever with updates to the Insights module. You can now see:
- Information on visibility, audience, and engagement with simple graphs showing trends over a 90-day period.
- The number of page views your listing receives, how many clicks to your website or driving directions occurred, as well as actions taken by the posts you publish.
- Followers by country, gender, and age.
As more data becomes available, analysis of local campaigns will likewise get easier and more precise – a powerful tool for marketers and business owners alike.
Google My Business Mobile Platform
Google has launched Google My Business for Android, with an iOS version for iPhones to follow shortly. The interface is very natural and intuitive with on-hand data that includes everything your desktop dashboard provides.
How Google My Business Affects Big Business
As with many Google upgrades, there are some drawbacks alongside improved features. Previously, users in Google Places and Google+ had the option to publish multiple locations via the Bulk Upload tool. Google My Business has not yet focused on large business owners seeking updates to this tool. The Bulk Dashboard is just starting the transition, so bulk users have changeover pain to the new backend still ahead of them. A single user can still manage 100 businesses in the current interface, but right now the new dashboard is unfriendly for businesses with dozens of locations. Hopefully future updates will implement a tool allowing for a single stream across multiple locations for a singular brand message.
Whether you work at a large corporation or a small family-owned business, Google My Business endeavors to bring many useful services together to make managing multiple Google products more intuitive. Harnessing this platform and understanding the nuances of how Maps, Local, Google+, etc. interact and complement each other will be crucial for any organization’s search engine presence in the months and years to come.