Small businesses are the lifeblood of America. According to the 2011 U.S. Census Bureau data, there are 28.2 million small businesses, which constitute 99.7 percent of all U.S. employer firms.
One of the major hurdles that small businesses have to overcome is competition with larger corporations for a strong online presence. Forbes states that large corporations “spend zillions on AdWords, and these ads become instantly viral and drive eyeballs back to their websites. They employ marketers and public relations firms to get themselves mentioned everywhere by bloggers and columnists. This is what big companies do.” So while big companies are doling out the bucks, small businesses have often struggled to compete online-until now.
With the blossoming of valuable tools like Google My Business, small businesses can go above and beyond to compete with larger, wealthier players. Google My Business is a free way to manage local business listings, content, and reviews on a single platform. Small businesses can effectively manage their online presence by putting quality content across the web without paying large sums of cash.
Here are some great things you can do for your businesses’ online presence with Google My Business:
1. Create a New Local Page. You can first look for an existing listing to claim as your own. In other words, your business might be on an online map already, or you may have created a listing using Google My Places or Google + Local, once upon a time. These are older, outdated versions of Google My Business, so let’s make sure to get you on the shiny, new platform, instead.
If you enter the address of your business and it isn’t already listed, you have the option to create a new one. They walk you through the process, step-by-step, to enter information regarding the address, name, and phone number (NAP) of your business. An accurate NAP on your business listings, website, and social media profiles is an essential aspect of a successful online presence.
2. Manage Your Google + Account. Through Google My Business, you can add photos, links, videos, and events to your Google + account. You can also start a Hangout with other local business owners or customers, which is a way to use video chat and instant messaging simultaneously through Google +. Google + is actually a great way for businesses to show their expertise in the field. Plus, setting up a Google + account helps tremendously with your online rankings, more so than any other social platform.
3. Manage Your Online Reviews. Once you verify your business, you can respond to your business’ online reviews. Instead of having to scour the Internet, trying to find everything written about your company, you can respond to each through one, single platform. This is also a plus for small businesses who often don’t have the legal or financial resources to fight against every false or negative review out there.
4. See Insights and Analytics About Your Businesses Online Trends. Businesses can see data on Google My Business that helps them understand their audience, including their +1s, comments, and re-shares of posts. You can also see website traffic, profile views, clicks for driving instructions, phone calls, and more. All of this data can be seen over a 30 day span.
Time Isn’t Free
Though Google My Business may be free, it still takes something that large corporations don’t often have: time. According to Forbes contributor Gene Marks, “for most small businesses who can’t afford this investment the next best thing is being active on services like Google My Business. Like any smart business owner knows, you will get out of it what you put into it.” In order for small businesses to keep sustaining America, they will have to dedicate more time and energy to preserving their online presence.