Google My Business came out with an new program called Let’s Put Our Cities on the Map on March 25, 2015. It’s designed to get more local small businesses on Google Search and Google Maps so that they can be found by their prospective customers searching Google for the products and/or services these businesses offer. This initiative has a self serve and a partnership approach to helping small businesses take advantage of the program.
After hearing about the program, I decided to take a look at the program to see exactly what it entails. Having worked on a project called EagleCo, since November of 2014, which has the same objectives as this Google project, I thought it would tie right in with what we have been doing. Also, knowing the struggles small businesses have with leveraging Google resources and that some of the targeted partners, such as Chamber of Commerce, might not be aware of the program, a more detailed analysis would be helpful.
Here are my findings:
First, the program clearly spells out why it’s advantageous for a local small business to make sure they claim, verify, optimize and properly manage their Google My Business (GMB) listing. For example:
- 80% of people “use search engines to find local information, like business hours and addresses”
- Those businesses with “complete listings are twice as likely to be considered reputable by customers”
- Consumers are “38 percent more likely to visit and 29 percent more likely to consider purchasing from businesses with complete listings”
In the simpler terms, a properly setup and managed GMB listing can serve as a gateway for local small businesses to connect with their customers. Just imagine a prospective customer walking through a town with their smart phone in hand searching for an Italian restaurant to have dinner at. That restaurant is going to want to be found by that searcher. The GMB listing allows exactly that.
For those seeking a more detailed analysis as to why it’s advantageous to local small businesses, you’ll want to review this study titled, What is the Economic Benefit from Geo Services by Oxera Consulting.
Second, to help more local small businesses take advantage of this opportunity, Google is offering self help resources as well as seeking partnerships with certain types of entities.
The self help resources provide a good general overview for those local small businesses that have the time and are more digitally savvy to get their GMB listing up and running and then manage it so that it’s a productive part of their digital strategy. These resources include:
- A tool to check and see if and how the business is listed – http://goo.gl/f3MJsc
- A fairly detailed step by step guide for setting up and managing a GMB listing – http://goo.gl/KSZ0HZ
- If a business is looking for more help, Google provides the Google Small Business Community on Google+*
- Provided YouTube Playlist featuring past videos pertaining to the topic and more – http://goo.gl/L2joaB
- In case the business does not have a website, the following resource for getting a website up and running is provided – http://goo.gl/gsHt7a
*Note, you’ll have to join Google+ to ask questions. And if you are going to join Google+, you should do it properly as it becomes part of your and/or your organizations digital footprint.
In addition to the self help resources, _Google is seeking to partner with organizations_ such as, “Chambers of Commerce, SBDCs, SCORE chapters, municipalities, city or neighborhood associations, other non-profit organizations that support small businesses in the community and Google affiliated groups like badged Google Partner agencies and Google Trusted Photographers.”
The listed partners will have access to a greater range of resources such as:
- Promotional material through which they can spread the word
- Presentation material for hosting a Google workshop, http://goo.gl/6cA4g8
- Have access to a private Google+ community through which they can ask questions
Finally, there are few other high value items of interest such as:
- An FAQ’s concerning the initiative and greater in-depth information for troubleshooting a listing http://goo.gl/f4wUmf
- The ability to show support for your favorite three local businesses by sending them a postcard http://goo.gl/xbOcI0
In summary, this new program by Google is a good move toward getting more local small businesses on the digital map by leveraging the Google My Business listing. While this program covers many of the facets concerning setting up and managing a GMB listing, there are several other factors to consider in the entire process. In the next post, we’ll consider some of those additional factors.