Magazine article Computers in Libraries

HOW TO Create a Google My Business Page

Magazine article Computers in Libraries

HOW TO Create a Google My Business Page

Article excerpt

As part of a website redesign process, our library web team conducted usability testing it which patrons were observed navigating our new site design on a mobile device. By observing user behavior and looking at Google Analytics data, we soon realized that many users on mobile devices preferred to connect to and interact with the library site's content through Google and/or their device browser, rather than navigating to and gathering information on our site itself. In other words, they wanted to Google our hours and see them right away as a Google search result, not navigate to our website URL, find our Hours page, and read the information there.

This observation led us to develop a new SEO strategy and to redefine the boundaries of the library web presence, particularly with the mobile user in mind. We undertook a process of claiming our Google My Business (GMB) page and adding information such as photos, hours, keywords, and other metadata. We immediately noticed improvements in users finding the information they sought, such as a reduction in calls to our help desk asking for basic building information.

In addition to being able to better reach users where they are, our GMB page gives us control over content in a way that is not possible on our own website, given institutional politics. In this article, we will help librarians and library staffers understand the value of having a GMB page for a library. We'll also go over the process of creating one.

Why Take Control of Your GMB Page?

The primary reason to control your GMB is to make sure your institution's information is accurate and is seen quickly by patrons. A common search conducted by a mobile user is aimed at getting directions, hours, and phone numbers for a business. With GMB, these options display as interactive buttons on the results list on a mobile phone, and any next steps (such as calling a phone number) can be done with a one-finger tap. Information and keywords added into GMB are by default optimized and incorporated into Google's Knowledge Graph along with other linked data-ready information.

Additionally, many researchers begin their research in Google, and increasing a library presence there can serve as a bridge to the library site and its content (Wolff-Eisenberg, et al., 2016). Since Google Analytics data indicates that more than 11% of our patrons are finding us through a search engine rather than via a direct URL or referral from another site, it's important to work with the tools the search engine offers us to better connect those individuals with our content. That 11%, by the way, doesn't account for the people who gather information on Google Maps and never hit our site.

Your Library on Google

Your library most likely already has a GMB page, whether you know it or not. GMB is a free listing service, created by Google in 2014, that makes it easier for users to find businesses and other organizations on Google via Google Search and Google Maps. GMB incorporated some of what had been previously branded as Google Places for Business, Google Local, and Google+ Business Pages. Google created many business pages from publicly available listings, and people can also create and edit listings (and are rewarded for doing so through the Google Local Guides program).

One of the first times Metropolitan State University Library became aware of GMB was due to incorrect information on the unclaimed Google Business page for Dayton's Bluff Public Library, a branch of the St. Paul Public Library that shares a building with our academic library. Whether by user-submitted error or a Google-created mix-up, our university reference desk phone number was listed as the main phone number for the public library, which meant we were suddenly getting lots of calls about children's storytime and how to renew items not held in our catalog. Once we determined that the erroneous information was coming from a GMB page, we were driven to learn more about the service and claim our own page in 2015. …

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