Google Account, Google Account, Who’s Got the Google Account?
When we develop a website, one of the things we ask the client for is login information for a Google account. We use that account to set them up with Google Analytics, an excellent free service that will track statistics about traffic to your site. We also use the account to help the client claim their location’s Google My Business listing.
Both of these things are invaluable for SEO. Analytics provides a compass for your ongoing SEO and marketing efforts, letting you know where your strengths and weaknesses lie and letting you gauge your progress. Your Google My Business listing, when claimed and optimized, will directly improve your search results within your service area. These are free services that can greatly benefit your website’s effectiveness.
And you could lose control of both of them if you don’t keep track of your Google account.
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that this isn’t the first time I’ve talked about the importance of keeping track of your online resources. Your business’s social media and your domain name registration details are two very important assets that I frequently see clients treating carelessly. Add your Google account to that list.
If your Google My Business listing hasn’t yet been claimed, make sure that it’s claimed using a Google account that you have, and will retain, full access to. If one of your employees offers to claim it for you because they’re more computer savvy, just make sure that they’re doing so using an account created for the company (that you have the password and password recovery information for) and not their personal account. Unless you have complete, unconditional trust in that employee, letting them claim your listing on their personal account is a bad idea. If that employee chooses to leave your company and doesn’t turn the listing over to you before leaving, you won’t be able to access it in order to manage in the future – and letting Google know if your business changes location is a pretty important thing to be able to do!
But it’s my business – surely I should be able to …
You may think that reclaiming your location listing should be easy, since it’s your business, but once someone else has claimed it, getting control of it away from them without their proactive cooperation is not a trivial task. Google has processes to help you with this, but they’re neither simple nor quick, and not guaranteed to result in your successful reclaiming of the listing. Keeping track of it from the beginning is far superior to trusting that you’ll be able to find a way to get it back later.
Even if someone well-meaning claims the account on your behalf, that could turn into an issue down the road if you’re not aware of it. I’ve seen this happen multiple times: a client’s listing has been claimed and optimized, but they’re not sure by whom. When the listing needs to be edited, it becomes a needle-in-a-haystack question of which former employee may be retaining control of that listing on their personal Google account.
Losing access to your Google Analytics could be just as problematic. Having Google Analytics running on your site provides extremely valuable feedback for anyone working on your marketing and SEO, but without the ability to log into that Google account you can’t actually view any of Google’s reports.
Transitioning to Google Apps
Here at Slamdot we’re big fans of Google Apps. It’s what we use for our email, and we recommend it to clients on a regular basis. Transitioning to Google Apps is a good thing – but here’s something you’ll want to be aware of. If you’ve got a personal Google account under the email address that you’re going to be using through Google Apps, you’ll want to change the primary email address on that personal Google account before transitioning to Google Apps.
So for example if you signed up for a personal Google account using the email address firstname.lastname@example.org and that’s the email address you use to sign in, you’ll want to log in to that Google account and edit it to use a different primary email address. The easiest thing to do would be to use the account to create a Gmail address – once you’ve set up email@example.com you’ll use that address to log in to that account in the future.
This is important because once a Google Apps account has been created that uses firstname.lastname@example.org as its primary email address, logging in to Google using that email address will take you to the new Google Apps account, not the old personal account. If you’ve forgotten to change the email address associated with your personal account, Google will detect this and, at some point in the process, prompt you to do so. If you ignore this prompt and the personal account remains under the same email address, any services that you had set up on that personal account may become inaccessible or, at the very least, very difficult to recover and access. This could become problematic if your Google Analytics or Google My Business are set up on that personal account.
Keeping Track of Your Online Presence: Just Do It!
I’m sure this won’t be my last post preaching the importance of being aware of some aspect of your online presence or website administration. Just remember that each one of these posts is inspired by seeing multiple clients struggle with the consequences of not being aware. Even if you’re not the most tech savvy person, that doesn’t excuse you from the responsibility of taking care of your business’s assets. Don’t be the inspiration for my next “don’t let this happen to you” post!