Comment: All things neat and tidy

Martin Kubler explains how to make the most of Google's range of new business apps

Martin Kubler
Martin Kubler

Google, still the internet’s favourite search engine, recently had a bit of a spring clean. The search giant’s logo changed ever so slightly, but more importantly, Google put a lot of effort into regrouping its business services, which it now collectively refers to as “Google Business Apps”.

These include “My Business” — your Google business dashboard, which also features a direct link to Google Analytics; Reviews, Insights, Adwords, Google+ company pages, and YouTube.

All of these services are now easily accessible from a new menu on the top right of your Google+ company page. That’s right, you now need to have a Google+ company page to benefit from some of the more important Google business services, such as reviews and verified Google Maps listings.

Previously, Google’s business services were somewhat cluttered and disjointed. As a result, the same information often had to be uploaded several times and the various services had to be managed separately.

By bringing its key businesses services under the Google+ umbrella, Google has made our lives a little easier. While it promises to offer further improvements for business clients in the future, in the meantime, it is probably a good idea to fine-tune your hotel’s or restaurant’s Google presence.

If you haven’t got a Gmail address yet, create one for your property now. Don’t worry if you have multiple properties or several outlets in one property — one address is enough and you can still receive property or outlet-specific updates.

Simply use Gmail aliases! Say your main Gmail address is hotelexample@gmail.com. You can then use hotelexample+1@gmail.com for the first restaurant, hotelexample+2@gmail.com for the second restaurant, etc. All aliases will act like individual email addresses, but lead to the same mailbox. You can set up an auto-forward from your Gmail account to your company email, which saves you having to log in to Gmail every day.

Next, you need to create a Google+ page for your hotel and every outlet you want to feature on Google Maps. Without a separate page, your outlet will not be able to have an individual map listing, nor will guests or visitors be able to review it. Completing the ‘location’ field in the Google+ page settings, will automatically create a Google Maps location, provided you enter an address that Google recognises and ensure that the pin is in the correct place.

Before you can properly use your new Google+ pages or map listings, you need to verify the pages and it’s also a good idea to link them to your website. The latter will ensure that you gain search visibility. Verifying pages can be done by post or by phone; unfortunately only Google seems to know when to present you with which option.

If you don’t see the phone verification option, try changing your address a little or simply retry a couple of days later. Phone verification is much easier and faster than postal verification, also because Google — for reasons best known to them only — will not accept PO box details in address fields.

Once you’re verified, you’re ready to go. Just make sure you have uploaded some great pictures to your Google listing and keep your Google+ page up-to-date by making new posts regularly. Soon, you’ll see reviews appearing on your listing, which you can (and should) reply to. Google also offers basic review analytics, easily accessible from your Google Business Dashboard.

Perhaps more valuable, though, are the ‘Business Insights’. These give you details on how many people saw your posts, map listings, and clicked on your links, as a result of finding you via mobile search. Together with user demographics and engagement statistics, this can be valuable to your business, if used correctly. Whatever you do: Keep it social!

About the Author: Martin Kubler is owner, director and chief cook and bottle washer of Iconsulthotels FZE, an ultra-boutique hospitality consultancy in Dubai. Email: info@iconsulthotels.com or visit facebook.com/iconsulthotels

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