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How to use Google's new 'My Business' for search listings

Google recently took another step forward in helping business owners manage their free organic search listings with the introduction of Google My Business.

Those of you who use Google+ Business and Google Places already may have seen the new Google My Business dashboard if you recently logged in to manage your accounts. If you are not taking advantage of this free listing service, you may get started at www.google.com/mybusiness.

Google My Business is the latest and best long-term solution to the challenges companies have faced in getting their listings for locations, contact phone numbers, hours, services and more exactly right in Google search and maps.

Google has acknowledged it's been a challenging process. If you haven't worked to manage your listings through the previous Google products, then consider Google My Business a great place for a fresh start – and a way to take advantage of powerful new features.

Google My Business isn't new in terms of the specific information about your business that is presented to searchers, or even the way the information is presented.

It's a new dashboard, and a way to simplify, clarify and speed up the business profile management process. It also is a way to provide you with some basic free usage analytics about your business website(s).

Google also is using the platform as an introduction to its advertising products, with access to a simplified pay-per-click AdWords interface.

Here are the highlights of Google My Business. The service:

• Presents a unified dashboard for managing multiple business pages that helps you more easily access and manage your information.

• Integrates the previous Places and Google+ pages.

• Lets you manage social features such as seeing and responding to Google+ social network customer reviews.

• Provides a portal to other Google services such as website Analytics and your YouTube channel.

• Provides an easier way for you to authenticate your business information, such as address, phone and website URL.

• Lets you share business news and photos.

Google is rolling out new free smartphone and tablet apps, including all of the My Business management features. The app is available for Android devices via https://play.google.com/ and will be available for Apple iOS and the iPhone and iPad as soon as it is approved by Apple for release in the app store.

In addition to the My Business management features, the apps have a nice interface for managing your Google+ social interactions with customers, as well as access to analytics stats such as visibility, engagement and audience stats. The apps definitely are a nice addition to the suite for the on-the-go business owner.

Overall, Google My Business is a positive step forward on what has been a challenging path for Google and for business owners who want to manage their search information and look their best in free organic search.

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