If you’ve been using Google+ for your business, you may have noticed that your dashboard or interface has changed at some time in the past few months. That’s due to the recent roll out of Google My Business, a portal with one central dashboard that allows you to manage your online business profile and connects you directly with customers, whether they are looking for you on Search, Maps or Google+.
Google My Business represents a significant small business upgrade from Google Places and Google Plus. The new interface is more organised and makes it easier for business owners to access all the key features and information for day-to-day management.
- Virtual Tours
You may have already noticed that there is now a Add virtual tour button available when you view your Google+ Page in edit mode. When you click on this button you will be shown an example of a Virtual tour button and from there click on the Get Started button to start the process. There are three steps involved. You will need to contact a Google certified Trusted Photographer or Trusted Agency. Once you have chosen a Trusted photographer from the list provided and contacted them via the Google Get started page the photographer or agency completes the process for you. They will have the photos uploaded and live on Google Maps and Google Plus within a few weeks of the shoot.
The cost will depend on the agency you use and the number of panorama photos to be included in the package. Unfortunately you can’t just use your own photos taken on your smartphone (unless you want to become a local Trusted Photographer).
This virtual tour or Business View (as google also refers to it) will appear in the About section when customers view your page on Google+.
A Business view image will also appear in your Google Maps listing.
As a Google+ user you may have noticed when you visit a business’ page that there is a star rating in the top right hand corner of the About section (as pictured here below). This rating is based on reviews that people have written about the business.
Reviews are one of the most important features of Google My Business for local businesses. In the past Google Places hasn’t provided us with a reviews dashboard that we can quickly check to make sure we don’t miss any new reviews. Using Google My Business you can now stay on top of what your customers are saying about your business.
If you do happen to fall victim to negative reviews on Google+ it’s not a simple matter of deleting the negative reviews. You should carefully respond to negative reviews and manage their impact on your brand. It’s a good idea to respond to positive reviews as well and thank your happy customers.
To access your reviews, go to your Google My Business dashboard or to your business’ page and either select Reviews from the grid menu in the top right corner or scroll down to the Reviews section and click ‘Manage Reviews’.
Google presents you with a best practice checklist of steps which you take when responding to reviews.
For more help with dealing with negative reviews and gaining positive reviews it’s worth reading Sprout Social’s article: How to Handle Negative Online Reviews of Your Business and Moz’s article on getting reviews the right way.
- Google+ Communities
Google+ Communities are somewhat similar to LinkedIn Groups. You can find interesting discussions around specific topics with people who have similar interests. You can share to Communities in the same way that you share to your Circles. After you login to Google+ you will see an icon in the dropdown menu on the left. Clicking on this icon will take you to the Communities homepage where you will find a sample of available Communities and Communities Google+ recommends for you. You can also search for communities by using the Search for communities in the upper right corner.
A major advantage Google+ Communities presents over Facebook and LinkedIn is that you are able to participate in discussions using your Google+ business page (not only your personal page). You can post new discussions or comment on other discussions using your page.
People in a community who see your answers in a comment can then click on you to go directly to your business page. You can even create your own Google+ community for your business.
- Google+ Hangouts & Helpouts
Google+ Hangouts are a free chat service that allows both one-on-one chats and group chats, and a good way to connect with key customers or influencers.
There are three types of Hangouts — the text chat version, Hangouts On Air, and Video Hangouts.
Video Hangouts are a great option if you want to host a private video chat with up to 10 different users (including yourself). Unlike Hangouts On Air, these are publicly viewable and will only be seen by users who are invited to join.
You can start a Hangout from the Hangouts box on the right sidebar, or from your profile page. Hangouts On Air can be a good way to promote your business and brand as they can be viewed by everyone online and are also archived as YouTube videos. To start a Hangout On Air, your Google+ account must be associated with a YouTube account.
Google has also recently introduced Helpouts. Helpouts are designed to help users get help anytime from people with expertise across a range of topics – teachers, counsellors, doctors, home repair specialists, personal trainers, etc. Users can choose who to get help from based on qualifications, availability, ratings and reviews. Some Helpouts are free and others require a fee. To find out how you can use Helpouts to build your brand go to https://helpouts.google.com
You can get a better understanding of how to improve your visibility and engagement on Google+ by examining the data provided by Google My Business Insights for Pages. Insights consists of basic statistics that can help you understand your audience and allow you to analyse trends in your follower count and the +1s, comments and reshares of your posts on Google+.
To access Insights simply login to Google, choose the Google My Business from the Grid Menu on the right or go to your Page using the navigation menu on the left. Then you can access Insights by scrolling down to it on your page and clicking View insights or clicking on the Insights app in the grid menu in the top right corner.
Insights includes three different types or reports: Visibility, Engagement and Audience reports.
The Visibility Reports show your all-time total views (how many times the page and its content were viewed), and allow you to analyse your views over different time-frames.
The Engagement Reports show the number of total actions (comments, shares and +1’s) on your Google Plus posts as well as the number of each action for a specific time period.
The Audience Reports show you the number of new followers over a 7, 30 or 90 day period and charts displaying their demographic information including country, gender and age.
These are just a few of the great tools available from your Google My Business Dashboard. If you’d like to share your experience with the new dashboard or would like some help with using Google to market your business I’d love to hear from you. I have also recently created a Beginner Guide to growing your business using Google My Business. If you’d like a copy or would just like to chat please don’t hesitate to contact me:
Tel: 1300 855 651
E-mail: [email protected]