One of the joys at working at Google is the internal tech talks. I expect lots of big new announcements to come at next week’s Google I/O conference, but there are lots of good existing projects around too.
Do you know of a small business without a website? I just discovered (or to be more precise, I just discovered the true value of) google.com/mybusiness, a free service to host online information about your business. Do you have a physical store with no desire to move your business online yet? Upload information about your business from your smartphone (such as location, opening hours, a few photos) and Google will look after the rest for you.
“But there are lots of sites that host websites!” Yes, there are. And its worth looking at them to see if they suit you better. It may be you want both!
The Google My Business service integrates directly with other Google services.
- Want more local customers? Data provided is used by Google maps and local search.
- Want to promote your business? Try AdWords Express.
- Closing for holidays? Let people know online what your opening hours are.
- Want a simple chat service for quick customer questions? Messaging support is built in as well.
- Having a special event? Use the mobile app to upload event information, making it available for Google local event feeds.
- Want to take bookings online (including integrated payments)? Google integrates with a range of scheduling partners (typically for fee services). This allows experiences like finding a local museum in Google maps, buying tickets within the experience, then getting driving instructions to the location. Slick!
- Want to share about great new products you just got in stock? Take some photos and upload them from your phone.
- And of course it lets customers leave reviews and notify you of them, allowing you to celebrate good reviews or address negative reviews quickly.
Google My Business is an easy way to get common information to Google about your business in the format most suitable for Google to use. It provides a single entry point of data to multiple Google systems. So even if you have a fully fledged website, Google My Business can still be useful to make sure Google has correct details about your business, such as opening hours, contact details, etc.
Oh, but you have an e-commerce platform already where you manage this data? No matter. Google My Business also has an API – there may be an extension already available for your platform so you can update Google from your e-commerce platform dashboard.
So, if you have a business, whether you have an existing online presence or not, I think its worth checking out Google My Business to ensure that Google has correct information about your business, helping your customers find you in search, maps, or a range of other Google services.
And it does not matter how small you are. One of the presenters at the tech talk talked about a street hawker in India (such as the photo below) who increased their sales by 40% using Google My Business. Their only IT knowledge or equipment was their phone. Not bad!
And did I mention it was free?