Getting a business noticed online has been a big deal- and a big challenge- since the 1990s, when people spoke of “paradigm shifts” and predicted that new startups such as eBay and Amazon would change the face of commerce. If there were a simple way to consistently place a website at or near the top of internet search results, then Search Engine Optimization would never have grown into the industry that it is today. This past June, Google introduced their new “Google My Business” service, which promises to help businesses and customers find each other more easily.
What is Google My Business?
Google My Business includes several services that Google has offered for years, but it now allows them to be managed from a single combined interface. One sign-up makes a business’ information available to Google Search, Google Maps and the Google+ social networking site. This information can include images, which will appear together with search results, and a virtual tour of the establishment. Not only does this give a business a presence on the site whose name is synonymous with “search,” it makes all this accessible to users who browse from mobile devices. This should be especially helpful for small business owners.
Convenience and ease of use are important, but many website owners will find Google’s analytical data to be even more valuable. Google’s “Insights” reports allow a site administrator to get detailed information about things like the site’s page view trends and the demographic makeup of its visitors. This information can then be used to improve the site’s effectiveness.
What are Google Webmaster Tools?
Webmaster Tools is another valuable set of services similar to Insights, but it focuses more on site performance. Its analyses help an administrator to optimize a site’s search-ability, correct health issues such as errors and malware, and control which content should be indexed by search engines. Problems that would not otherwise be obvious can easily be identified and corrected.
Webmaster Tools Verification
Webmaster Tools provides a lot of detailed and potentially sensitive information about a website. A savvy owner can use this information to improve the site’s performance and to better target customers, but an outsider or business rival could use this information for unethical purposes. This is why Webmaster Tools for Google My Business are available only for users who can verify that they are the site’s owner or administrator.
Anyone with a Google account can get verified to use Webmaster Tools, and a single account can be used to manage up to 1,000 web sites. Simply log in to Google Webmaster Tools, click on the “Add a site” button, and choose a verification method. Some website content management systems, such as Joomla! have ways to automate the process. Google offers four options, three of which involve directly editing the website:
* Place a Meta tag on the home page.
* Upload an HTML file to the web server, and then give Google the name of that file.
* Verify through the site’s domain name provider. Many such providers, such as Yahoo! and GoDaddy.com, provide instructions on how to do this.
* Edit the site to include its Google Analytics code.
Only one of these four things needs be done. Google will verify that it has been, and then they will provide access to their wealth of analytical data.