Love them or hate them, Google has a lot of great products to choose from for businesses. If you are a local business owner that wants to cut through the clutter to find the right Google products for your business, then you are in the right place. In this post, we’re going to look at the top free Google products that you can use for your local business to drive more traffic and increase productivity.
In 2012, Google moved Google Places to Google+ Local. It’s actually a positive change for business owners as Google+ is much easier to work with. Google+ pages also look better and allow businesses to post updates like they would to their Facebook page or LinkedIn company page.
If you don’t already have a Google+ account, or a Google account at all, you should start by creating one here. Then you can go to create your Google+ local business page. In the Local Business or Place box, enter your phone number and click Locate.
If you previously had a listing with Google Places, Google+ will discover it.
You will then confirm your location and click OK. After a few prompts for basic details including your website and contact information. Then you will need to edit your business information and verify that you are the owner.
Verification is done by phone or via postcard with a PIN number. Once you have verified you are the owner of the business with the PIN, you can make public edits to your page such as adding a cover photo, profile photo, and more details about your business. You can then link to your Google+ Local page on your website so your customers can come to leave you reviews. Note that you are not supposed to encourage people to leave reviews, but you can put the link out there and let the reviews flow in naturally.
Ultimately, by utilizing the right local marketing strategies, your business can end up in the coveted local section of Google search results.
The next most valuable Google product for local businesses (or any business in general) is Google Analytics. There are three things you will need to do to get the most out of Google Analytics.
- Set up your Google Analytics account.
- Install the Google Analytics tracking code.
- Set up Goals to track conversions.
Once you have done these things, you will be able to not only track the number of visitors you receive to your website, but also the conversions those visitors make while on your website. You can also use the location demographics data under audience to see if the majority of your visits is local traffic.
While not a necessity, Google Webmaster Tools can help you learn even more about how Google views your website. If you have Google Analytics installed on your website, you can use that code to verify your site during the Webmaster Tools setup. Then you will have a wealth of resources at your fingertips including on-site optimization suggestions, the click through rate for keywords that lead to your website in search, alerts to let you know if your site has been affected by malware, and much, much more.
If your site is not ranking well in organic search or local search just yet, then you can always use Google AdWords for paid search placement.
You can set up your ads to only show up for people searching within a specific region.
Then set up campaigns for keywords related to your business. Be sure that you match the keywords with the right target landing pages on your website, otherwise you will have to fight a poor quality score which will affect how often your ads will be displayed in search. If your keyword is air conditioning repair, your landing page for the ad should be entirely about air conditioning repair.
If you’re using Google for the first time, you might want to wait to set up your first Google AdWords campaign until you receive your $100 AdWords credit. This usually happens within a month of setting up your business on Google. Then you can see how AdWords can help your business on their dime.
YouTube is the third most popular website in the world, making it the third largest search engine in the world. If you haven’t integrated video marketing into your strategy, then you should definitely consider it.
There are lots of great ways to incorporate video into local business marketing strategy. You can record Google+ Hangouts, webinars, presentations, commercials, behind-the-scenes of your office, a virtual tour of your business, and even customer testimonials.
You may even want to occasionally monitor YouTube to see if your customers are already mentioning your business in their videos. Assuming they mention your business or products by name in the video descriptions and tags, they should appear when you search for your business on YouTube itself.
If you find good videos, you can place them to your channel by adding them to your favorites or a specific playlist.
Businesses that need to share events on a calendar with their customers such as those offering classes, lessons, etc. can use Google Calendar as a public events calendar.
You can also use Google Calendar internally as an alternative to Outlook to keep track of meetings, important editorial dates for your blog, and many other time-specific events. This is especially helpful if you work with a lot of contractors that you do not want to add to your internal network.
Formerly Google Docs, Drive is the new home of Google’s free office tools. You can create documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and even survey forms. These items can be shared within your industry, with contractors, and with customers when needed.
If you’re not attached to Outlook, Gmail can be a wonderful email client. One thing that can be especially helpful for a local business owner is integrating Rapportive into Gmail. Then you can identify the people coming through your inbox quickly.
It’s like having a social CRM built into your inbox, and best of all , it is free. Use it to get to know your customers and potentially tailor your responses (especially for sales) to fit their needs so you can make a good first impression.
As an added bonus, if you have any trouble with any of these products, refer to our post on How to Contact Google and save yourself some frustration!