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Read This Before You Claim Your Google My Business Listing!

Posted on by Melanie Yunk

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Establishing Google tools for a business seems simple, but this task actually requires significant thought. Before you claim your Google My Business listing, or pretty much any other Google tool for your business, read this and carefully plan out your strategy. Otherwise, you may end up with a Google-sized mess on your hands.

A quick disclaimer: this article applies to companies that don’t have, or don’t need, a Google Brand Account. Large companies may wish to consider a Brand Account, which is different than a regular Google Account; with a Brand Account, multiple people can jointly manage the account through their own Google Accounts. Brand Accounts are supported by Google My Business, Google+, Google Photos and YouTube, but not the other Google tools and resources.

While it may seem expeditious and completely innocuous to set up different Google tools using a personal (personal business or purely personal) account, this action causes numerous problems in the long run. You may also think that your web team’s need for Google Analytics won’t impact the marketing team’s need for Google My Business and Google+ access, or some other Google resource. Furthermore, you may also not consider that an outside-the-company consultant may need to access certain Google tools at some point. However, when different teams set up separate Google accounts – and when they are set up using personal email accounts – ownership, accessibility, privacy, transferability and history will undoubtedly be compromised.

Consider this example:

Marketing Mary, in an attempt to move quickly to start tracking the company website for marketing purposes, uses her personal business account to establish Google Analytics and obtain a tracking code for the website. A few months later, Consultant Cole joins the team to start a Google+ page. Because Google tools were set up with Marketing Mary’s personal email account, Consultant Cole either needs access to Mary’s account to add the additional application or a new Google account must be created.

Mary isn’t interested in – and should not consider – sharing her personal business email account details with Consultant Cole. While Consultant Cole should only look at the tools relevant to his role, he would have access to all of Marketing Mary’s proprietary company emails. However, creating another Google account spreads the company’s Google history across multiple, disparate accounts.

Compounding this issue could be Salesman Sam, who realizes that Marketing Mary and team haven’t created a Google My Business listing for his location, which could help drive customers to him. He then may take it upon himself to claim a Google My Business listing, using his personal account, for his remote office. This listing isn’t tied to the corporate listing or corporate account and may have different or conflicting information than the corporate listing. Or, the listing could be considered the main corporate listing if one hasn’t yet been claimed. Regardless, because Salesman Sam owns this listing, no one else can make changes or remedy the company’s overall Google My Business listing strategy that may have become complicated and confusing.

See the issue? This company may now have a giant mess of multiple accounts, compromised information, different owners, disparate and displaced history and different teams owning – and potentially not sharing access to –  tools and information that may benefit a wider audience.

It’s easy only to think about the immediate benefits of quickly employing the tools you need for your piece of the business. However, when you – or someone else in your business – doesn’t stop to consider the longer-term ramifications of not establishing a company-wide Google business account (or accounts), this quickly proves problematic. Ultimately, many people may require access to a single Google account that maintains all the services, tools and history required for a business. And this account should not be tied to a specific person or to an email account that receives or stores sensitive or important communications.

So, what’s a business to do to get this process right? Here are some steps to think and act strategically about effectively implementing and using Google for your business:

  1. Create a matrix and list the Google tools and features required for your entire business, either now or in the future. Consider the ownership, accessibility and transferability requirements of each of the tools. Most businesses use:
    • Google My Business – As the Google My Business listing owner, you may add additional owners and managers who will be able to share management of a listing. When adding others to a listing, you may grant different levels of access; carefully consider the tasks each person – employee or consultant – needs to perform, and give the appropriate level of access and capabilities based on those tasks. Finally, if you are leaving the company or your role, you may transfer primary ownership of your listing to one of the Google My Business listing’s other owners or managers.
    • Google+ – Multiple administrators are allowed for Google+, check out the Google+ Help Center for more information.
    • Google Analytics – You may add additional users to an Analytics account. You may add those users at different levels and restrict access and permissions at each level, as needed. When adding a user, including an employee or outside consultant, understand the access and capabilities required so that you set permissions appropriately. Check out Google Analytics Help for more detailed information on users and permissions; Google Analytics accounts, users, properties and views are based on a hierarchy that is critical to understand to effectively use the tool across an organization. Understanding the hierarchy also proves crucial for transferring properties (the websites you track in Google Analytics) between accounts (your point of entry to Analytics, and the highest level of organizational hierarchy). Once a property is moved to the business’ master Google account, and all permissions have been granted, the old account can be deleted. Please use extreme caution, however, when deleting an account.
    • Google Search Console – As a verified owner, you can add other users, configure settings and view all data and use all the tools. Ownership may be transferred, as well. Search Console Help offers additional information. A consultant or other employee may require access to perform certain functions only allowed by the owner account.
    • Google Drive – To fully embrace Google Drive’s ability to manage, organize and share your business’ files in a centralized repository, you need to invest in a G Suite account. Otherwise, ensure that you and your team share documents wisely. Remember that if you are creating documents from, or sharing documents with, a generic company account, then anyone with access to that account – consultants or others – will see those documents.
    • YouTube – Unless your channel is linked to a Brand Account, YouTube accounts aren’t transferable and don’t allow additional users. Create this account very carefully!
    • AdWords – An administrator can grant access to additional users and set the features each person can see or manipulate. A consultant or employee who runs a PPC account may require access to this main account.
  2. Identify the people and teams who need to access each of the tools. If more than one group needs access, consider a second company Google account and split up the tools into the appropriate accounts. For example, the web development team may need Google Analytics and Search Console but may not require access to tools the marketing team needs, such as Google My Business, Google+ and YouTube.
  3. Create a generic company gmail account and name it: “companyname@gmail.com.” HINT: If this name is already taken, your company may already have an account you should use to access tools. Try to gain access to this account before creating a new account.
  4. Claim your Google My Business listing and fill in as many details as possible. Be sure to set up the other tools that are needed, as per your matrix, only while logged into this company Google account (and not while logged in to your personal account).
  5. Create a second company account option, as per above, if necessary. Establish the additional Google tools required for this secondary account.
  6. Ensure that no matter who creates the account or owns it, more than one person in the office has the credentials. This is a safety measure for when someone leaves the company. We’ve seen a situation with a company that has a Google My Business account, but has no idea who created it or who owns it. Sans credentials and an owner, they are forced to start over. Major facepalm!

As you are creating your overall Google strategy, and adding users and tools and setting permissions, we recommend you always consider this question:

“What would happen if I need to let a vendor into this account?”

As per our example about Consultant Cole, would that vendor see or have access to confidential information or emails? Could that vendor access other Google tools and potentially – inadvertently or otherwise – delete or edit them? Keeping this benchmark question in mind will ensure you securely and effectively reap the benefits of Google for business.

Also, think about how your consultants and vendors use Google on your business’ behalf. While interviewing a PPC vendor, for example, ask if they will be using your Google AdWords account or their account to run your PPC. If they expect to manage your business through their Google account, we suggest you run away… and run fast. You don’t want your business data and history solely owned and potentially held hostage by a vendor; require that an account used by consultants be a company-owned Google account – the very one you just set up, in fact! As stated earlier, when using your company-owned Google account you can grant (or rescind)  access to additional users and vendors.

A ton of information to consider, no? Google proves highly effective, but not always easy. Take the time to stop and thoughtfully consider all of the implications of using Google for business, including claiming your Google My Business listing, setting up Google Analytics, creating a YouTube channel and more. We guarantee that a few extra hours of strategy on the front end will save you a ton of hand wringing and face palming on the back end. Happy Googling, and let us know if you need any help navigating this complex process!


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