The small business initiative from Google

Potential customers increasingly turn to the Internet for information that leads to purchases.

“Where should we eat dinner tonight?” “Where can I buy culinary lavender?” “When my relatives come to town, where should they stay?”

In other words, people consult the Internet to decide where to spend their money.

So it hurts if you don’t have accurate information online to help customers find your business. And it really hurts if it’s inaccurate on Google, the country’s top search engine.

According to StatCounter, Google was nearly 87% of the combined (desktop and mobile) search market in March 2017. Bing came in 2nd with slightly over 6.5%, followed by Yahoo at 5.5%.

About half of small business owners find inaccurate information online about their operations, says Stephanie Cislo, a partner activation manager with Google. Such misinformation can range from locations to phone numbers and from endorsements to product lines.

The foundation for getting your business information correct on Google resides with your Google My Business (GMB) listing – a Google presence on Google Maps that nearly every public-facing business in America has, whether they planned it or not. Google will create a GMB page for you. It’s up to you to claim, complete and verify it.

Stake their reputations

“Businesses with complete listings are twice as likely to be considered ‘reputable,’” Cislo says.

Today’s consumers expect businesses to be accurate online, and if they’re not, they wonder why.

“Only 37 percent of businesses have claimed their listings on a search engine,” Cislo says. “Businesses should update information including photos, holiday hours, phone number, etc. Businesses can do this by claiming and verifying it so an owner or manager can keep it updated.”

To claim and verify your business isn’t as mystifying as it sounds. And if you can’t do it yourself, it’s easy to get help.

Start at GYBO.com

“Get Your Business Online (GYBO) is the perfect place to test the waters because it’s free and it takes about 10 minutes,” Cislo says.

Go to gybo.com and look in the top right corner for the “Check My Business” blue button.

“We offer guides and lessons at gybo.com to help businesses walk through the steps. Or businesses can find a local partner through our website that can help them one-on-one.”

Pioneer Media is an Official City Partner and is one of the top Google My Business verifiers nationally. That means we partner with Google to help local business owners connect with more customers online. We guide you through the process and equip you to monitor online activity in an uncomplicated way.

We are happy to instantly verify any Google My Business listing without the hassles of a phone call or postcard. Just choose “Verify Later” near the end of the GYBO process and then contact us here.

According to local search guru Mike Blumenthal (aka the institutional memory for Google’s local search efforts), the GYBO effort first rolled out in Texas in 2011 after first being introduced in the UK and Canada in 2010.

The initial (and still ongoing as far as we can tell) partners included chambers of commerce, Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) and the Service Core of Retired Executives (SCORE). That’s how PIoneerMedia got to partnering with the Omaha Chamber of Commerce, along with a good group of other chamber members, in promoting a digital marketing series in 2016. No word yet on what that looks like in 2017.

The GYBO initiative has evolved and embraced “lovers of all things local”. According to GYBO, Google believes “local businesses are vital to America’s economic future. In fact, small businesses comprise half of the U.S. GDP and create two-thirds of all new jobs. . . We believe every small business should be found online and we offer the ability to do this through Google products like Google Maps–for free.”

Since 2011, GYBO reports helping 327,000 businesses online, with 240 workshops and 3,000 partnerships formed.

In today’s connected world, it pays to be connected to your customers. Let GYBO and PioneerMedia make sure that connection is accurate.