google my business

Google My Business: How new updates benefit the small business model common to awards shops

Kelly “Rags” Ragland is owner and operator of Rags to Stitches Productions, a holistic advertising-specialty company providing a range of services including web design and development.

Google My Business has recently released new features for Google Maps that can make a huge impact on your business’s listing opportunities. If you’re not taking advantage of Google My Business and maintaining a good presence with your local listings, you may be missing out.

You are probably familiar with the way Google presents information for businesses when you're shopping, looking for a business location, or even finding a restaurant on the fly; it often includes maps and locations related to your search. Google also automatically presents targeted, nearby local results for your search when it knows your location. For example, using your desktop/laptop while logged in to your account or using a mobile device.

The most successful listings include not just a location but images, informational posts, special offers, reviews, hours of operation, links to their websites and social media channels, and more. These enhanced listings generate user action by grabbing the user’s attention along with providing them with a sense of that listing being a valued search result. In terms of optics, it is verified, certified, and qualified.

In short, good Google Maps listings are valuable internet properties with the added benefit of Google being happy with your business looking through their lens and providing users with the most relevant and useful information available. In fact, many businesses that directly compete within a specific geographical location have migrated to using the Google My Business platform as a primary focus for their online strategies – for awards retailers with competitors nearby, this could be important.

Another detail to note is that if you have been sticking to the Google Plus Business Page method of maintaining your listing and business info, it is no longer attached to the new Google My Business model. While Google had been integrating that information in the past, earlier this year, it was phased out. If you’ve been wondering why your listing hasn’t been displaying information that it used to, that is your answer. It is easy to miss these changes as they progress.

As these new features roll out, one is particularly awesome. You now have the ability to add a call to action to your listing on Google Maps. From your Google My Business dashboard, click on the posts link to create a new post. You will be presented with a window for adding information along with post options and an image. The recommended image size is 750px X 200px in order to generate the eye-catching benefits this feature offers.

The title of your new post defines what you want the call to action to be about; it should be an attention-grabbing headline. If you were having an open house or special event at your shop, for example, you could create an event for people to click on to find out more or RSVP. You could also use it for offering a coupon or discount – whatever type of promotion you'd like. Using the button options, you can include "reserve" for events; "learn more" to direct them to a promotional web page or landing page for discovering your products and services; "sign up" for registering users to your mailing list; and my personal favorite: a "buy now" button. 

You can direct the buy button to any of your landing pages, where users can immediately take action on purchasing that product or service. It is a direct connection that follows my three-click rule: three clicks or less and the user has made contact or made a purchase. The ability to drive that kind of action from a map listing is a huge addition to the benefits of using Google My Business.

Once you've created your post using the proper button, eye-catching image, and information, your map listing will feature your offer when users discover your business on Google Maps. Consider the possibilities of this advanced listing: a week or so before Independence Day, you could add a special for custom "Happy Fourth of July" gifts that includes a direct link to your site to make that purchase. 

You can use the feature as often as you like, generating up-to-date specials and offers that blend right in to your online business listing, but always remember the rule of thumb: the more Google knows about you and your business, the better off you're going to be. Google My Business is a Google-operated entity, tied in with all of the Google bots with a user dashboard and interface that allow you to maintain a great presence without having to know any special code or fancy technical skills – a winning recipe that will no doubt last long into the future.

Google your business and see how the world is discovering you.