A new user-friendly tool can help small businesses get a little love from Google. Using the new Google My Business, you can increase your visibility online, provide valuable business information to your customers and interact with your fans from your cell phone.

When a customer searches your business name, wouldn’t it be nice if a map of your business popped up followed by store hours and customer reviews? That’s just a few of the things you can accomplish with Google My Business. Let’s go over some of the most important features.

Getting started
This new tool brings together several other Google business platforms including Places for Business and the previous Google+ dashboard. If you were using either of these interfaces, you’ll be redirected to Google My Business.

“Before Google My Business, the interface was a bit clunky, but this new version is impressive,” says Todd Bailey, founder of online search marketing company pushStar Digital.

If you haven’t used the previous models, just go to Google My Business and click “Get on Google” to get started.

Create or claim your business listing
Whether your business is an actual brick-and-mortar store or an online business, you’ll be able to manage your business listing. If you’ve worked with the previous Google platforms, you’ll claim a business listing. If you’re new or have a business that’s online, you can create a listing.

Build a profile page
As you work your way through the prompted screens, you’ll create a Google+ profile for your business.

Here you can enter important business information like store hours, your phone number, a link to your business website and photos of your shop. Here’s a look at the profile page, which also serves as a dashboard.

Share content via Google+
From that same dashboard, you can share and engage with customers via Google+. If you look at the image above, you’ll see the G+ icon with “Share” under it. That’s where you can create a post. You can even post a message from your phone.

Not familiar with Google+? It’s another social media tool similar to Facebook. You add friends to your circle just as you’d add friends to your Facebook page. Sharing works the same way, too.

Access to metrics
As you can see from the image above, the dashboard also has an “Insights” section. This is where you can get all of your metrics. You can see how well posts are doing, get a look at the demographics of your followers and see helpful charts about your engagement rates.

“You’ll even be able to see how many people got directions to your business and see where they were when they requested the directions,” Bailey says. “This information will help owners see how far their reach is.”

Access to customer reviews
Word of mouth is a powerful thing. Now your customers can leave reviews right on your Google+ page.

“This is a key element for small businesses because now they have the ability to maintain their online reputation,” Bailey says.

If you take another look at the dashboard picture above, you’ll see the reviews section. As the business owner, you can read and respond to these reviews as needed.

Have you started using Google My Business yet? If so, what do you think of this new tool? Tell us in the comment section below.

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