First and foremost you need to get yourself a Google ID. Google is more than willing to give you all kinds of free stuff, but you need to sign up first.
- Now that you have your Google ID, you’re ready to go, and the easiest thing to do is create a FREE business listing. If there’s already a listing for your business there, you’ll have the opportunity to claim that listing as the owner. Once you do, you’ll be able to add details such as hours, phone, address, website etc. Not already listed? Creating your listing from scratch is a simple 3 step process.
TIP: Add your company’s logo as a photo. When you’re viewing a list of similar business’ a professional clean logo will make your listing stand out. For an exact fit, create a web-optimized logo file at 90 pixels wide by 60 pixels tall.
Once filled out your info and you’ve confirmed your listing, you’ll be able to view statistics, add coupons, and share information with your clients. Not to mention, you’ll have an accurate customized listing for your customers to find when they use Google Maps.
- The next thing you can do is create a few Google Alerts for your business. What’s an Alert? Essentially, you tell Google to contact you whenever anybody, anywhere creates content on the internet that you’re interested in. Part of marketing your business is knowing what people are saying, so it’s important to take advantage of this. Here’s an example… Start with specific things like your company name, your town and your area of business. By using Google Alerts you’ll be able to be notified immediately, daily or weekly about your search terms. Have a plumbing company in Marshfield? Try setting up an alert for “Leaky + Marshfield”. Own a restaurant in Plymouth, set up an alert for “Food + Plymouth”. Google Alerts searches public sites like Twitter and even unprotected Facebook status updates, so you can get real time alerts sent directly to your email and even your cell phone via text. If Bob Tourist is asking his twitter friends for advice on where to eat in Plymouth, you’ll have the ability to send him a tweet right back and say “have you thought about my restaurant?” No, Google Alerts is not the end all solution to becoming a successful in business, but it is helpful to monitor chatter on the web. You never know when someone’s going to need your product or service, so get creative with those alerts. It’s as simple as set it and forget it, so why not? Pretty neat, huh?
- Lastly is Google Analytics, and it’s is probably the most powerful piece of the puzzle. But it only works if you have a website. (P.S. If you don’t have a website, well there’s this company called 3thought that makes them…) It’s a little more tricky to set up than the first two (a small piece of code needs to be embedded into your homepage), but it’s really worth it. Monitoring your site traffic will tell you how your marketing is working. Just sent out a mailer? Check to see if you got a spike in traffic that week. Attended a networking event and handed out some cards? See how many people checked out your site when they got home. Using Analytics doesn’t get you more business, but it helps you evaluate what’s working and what’s not. If you’re going to be running specials, give them unique URLs, and find out how many people are checking them out and where those visitors are coming from. There is no need to pay for site tracking service — Google has oodles of information for FREE. Forget the old fashioned “hit counter” idea too. Analytics gives you real data that is actually useful in evaluating how effective your website is.
And that’s just the tip of proverbial iceberg. Google offers all kinds of fun online tools. If you are feeling adventurous, you might want to give Google Docs a try and ditch that overpriced copy of Microsoft Office all together. Collaborate with teams of people in real time using Google Wave. Keep up with news by using Google Reader to create your own custom news subscription feed. And there’s more, so much more. We solemnly swear, we receive no compensation from Google to say this, but Google is just plain cool and so, oh so much more, than the most popular search engine.