Keeping track of various social and local profiles for franchises, SMB’s or even enterprise companies can be a real task, especially in Google because of all of the different options and the slow centralization of Google tools for businesses (hopefully we’ll get there soon!). Business owners are using services like Google+, Google + Local, AdWords, YouTube, Search, and Maps to bring their products and services closer to their customers… let’s not even get into the challenges when dealing with different Google accounts.
As a business owner, you will be hard-pressed to monitor all the data, reviews and ratings coming from different quarters, and you will also have to keep track of all the changes and updates that Google keeps coming up with to improve its products. Just when you thought you had the hang of a particular service, Google updates it. Take, for instance, the New Google Maps that it just rolled out or the expansion of the Google Places API.
You can imagine the difficulties faced with keeping track of all the business information coming at you from all of Google’s sites and making sense of it. Business owners who have been using an integrated Google centric approach for improving their business’s online presence, have always wondered why Google’s not coming up with a Dashboard that allows them to manage a business’s use of different Google services, all from one place. Well, the good news is Google has heard you.
You can now manage all your business’s daily activities across the Google universe from under one roof. It is your business’s Google war room. Its job is to make it easier for you to manage your online presence.
Google+ Dashboard – An Overview
According to a recent Burst Media Survey Google+ is the second most popular social media network amongst US users, with Facebook topping the charts. Why did I mention this little factoid? To put across the importance of having your business up on Google+; and if you have got a Google+ page, this dashboard helps you manage and leverage your online presence.
You could also call this your Local Google+ Dashboard as it allows local business owners to make changes to their business listings, learn how customers search for and find their businesses on Google and market their business through their promotion of Offers and the use of Adwords Express.
The status of your page determines the number of information cards displayed by the Dashboard. If you have a verified local Google+ page, you get access to cards like:
- Insights: We are going to discuss this feature in some detail, but for now let’s just say that it defines the engagement metrics of your business’s page on Google.
- Top Search Queries: It identifies the top search terms that helped your business listing show up in local search results of Google.com
- Update Toolbar: Tired of updating critical local business data like operating hours, URLs, addresses, posting news stories, videos or pictures, by accessing each Google service, one at a time? I am sure you are, so use the dashboard to make changes across all Google services like from one place.
- Google Offers and AdWords Express: Now create and manage your Google AdWords Express campaigns from one place; local Google+ page owners can do the same with their Google Offers as well.
This isn’t the end of it. You can do a whole lot more like track all your notifications, online reviews, assign page managers and perform a wealth of other activities that will help business owners leverage the immense potential of Google and its various services.
Now that we have taken a brief tour of what the Google+ Dashboard is all about, let’s take a closer look at its Insights feature:
According to Webster’s Dictionary, an insight is ‘the act or result of apprehending the inner nature of things or of seeing intuitively.’
That’s precisely what this feature on the New Google+ Dashboard helps you to do; it gives you insights into your business and its engagement levels with target customers. It’s an amazing and much needed feature, as it tells you whether your online presence is working or not.
What does Insights do?
Insights offers you statistical information about how your target customers are engaging with your business on Google. In order to access this information, your business must have a verified local page. A verified local page gives you access to three cards on your dashboard. These cards offers a variety of information that includes everything right from the total number of views and actions generated by your business on Google+, the number of people who have searched for driving directions to your business using Google Maps and the top queries used by people to find your business listing on Google properties like Search, Google Maps and Maps for Mobiles.
Breaking Down the ‘Insights’ Information Mix
Insights measures the engagement levels of your business at multiple levels. At each level, it offers you a set of information; let’s try and break this information down to compartmentalize it into easy-to-understand parts:
1. Information about the Sum Total of your Presence
Insights offers you a bird’s eye view of your total followers, number of times your content’s been viewed and the actions taken on your content in the past one month; it also tells you when you posted your last content on Google+.
2. Viewership of your Business Listing
I am sure you want to know how many times your business listing and its contents have been viewed in the last week or month. The ‘views graph’ gives you this information displayed in three different views. The Profile view, tells you how many times your business’s Google+ page was viewed by people; the Post view, tells you the number of times your posts were viewed from your business’s Google+ page and the Local search views tell you the number of times people saw your business listing on Search, Google Maps and Maps for Mobile
By going through the total number of views, you get a clear of idea whether your business’s presence across Google is getting the attention it deserves.
3. Information about Actions taken by Users
You haven’t created your business listing and content for the heck of it. You need it to perform.
There is a reason why online marketing experts think why it’s actionable content or nothing. The value of all direct and indirect promotional content is measured by its impact, but how do you measure this impact? You do this by taking stock of the actions performed by users after reading your content. This is why your business listing and content needs to be actionable.
The Insights feature offers you information on the actions facilitated by your business listing and content including:
- New followers on your Google+ page
- +1 clicks on your posts, the number of re-shares your posts got from your Google+ page
- The number of comments your post received from your Google + page
- The number of times people clicked on Maps to get more info about your business location
- The number of clicks received to get info on driving directions
- The number of clicks to your website through local search results
These are metrics that give you an insight into the effectiveness of your online presence. If you think the figures aren’t up to your liking, you can take corrective steps to improve them. That’s the reason why this ‘Insights’ feature is a step in the right direction.
4. Performance of your Posts
I have faced this problem often. I create a post on Google+, I know I have worked hard at it, but I don’t know whether it’s being appreciated by the people it’s targeted at. Well, now I don’t have to worry; with Insights, I now know which of my posts have performed well and which haven’t.
I get to know the number of views each post has received and how many comments, shares and +1’s it has attracted. What’s more, I can even get the lowdown on the number of times my post was viewed during its first 72 hours, not to mention an hour-by-hour view activity within during this time period. More importantly, I know how my post was accessed in the first place, and why it was viewed.
Thus, Insights effectively puts a post through a statistical grinder to tell you whether it has worked its magic or not. If it has, pat yourself on the back, if it hasn’t, try to make sense of the failure with all the information at your disposal.
Insights offers you actionable intelligence by evaluating different performance metrics. It tells you in a nutshell whether you got your online presence right. Isn’t this something that we all want to know?