Carter Maslan comments on the new data rich Desktop for the LBC

Google is formally announcing their data rich Desktop for the LBC this morning. The new LBC view has been visible to a growing number of LBC users over the past week and should be visible to all US listings by Tuesday afternoon. I had some questions about the product and its focus which Carter Maslan, Director of Product Management for Google  Maps took the time to answer.

overview

MB: Please give me an overview of the product and its importance

Carter Maslan (CM): I have this mental image of a little shoe shop owner getting all of this info. Google is making all of this information visible. It is information that has never been visible before. The main thing motivating us, is giving offline businesses the same visibilty to information that you have with online businesses.

MB:What are you calling this new Lcoal Business Center Feature? 

CM:  the Dashboard in the LBC

MB: It is visible as a report in my LBC list view. The interface appears as if it could replace the current list view? Is it going to be the new interface? 

CM: If you are a single verified  business this is the first view that you will see. Right now if you have more than one listing it will be in the list view and will allow you to jump to the data rich view via the View Report Link. Further improvements are going to be made in the interface.

Now instead of the Local Business Center being solely a way to control how a business listing appears, it becomes an information rich source that can support an offline camapign. It will allow the small business to track and correlate offline activities with online behaviors.

MB: What is an impression? It is Just inside Maps or does it reflect Universal Local results as well

CM: An impression is the number of times the business listing appeared as a search result on Google.com search or Google Maps search in a given period.

MB: Initially I see that it is prepopulated with 30 days of data. Any chance of month over month comparison stats after 30 days?

CM: We could change on this but it will start on April 20 or so and go forward so if you look in August you will see accumulated history from that time. There are no plans for a month over month comparison at this time

MB: You have a small graphic indiciation completion level. Is there a guide somewhere that tells what  it takes to get to 100% or is it just populating every field to its maximum IE 10 Photos, 5 videos etc..

CM: We are making a change so that is more specific as to what the % complete indicates. If it isn’t available on rollout it will be available shortly.

MB: Does completion level have any impact outside of a guide to the client? I.E. does it affect standing?

CM: Nothing other than our standard view which is that if you have a complete listing you have a more appealing listing. It does not directly affect ranking. Our view is that the better you, as a business owner, represent yourself the better you able to selected among the choices. Our goal is to try to help the business present themselves in the best light.

MB: Any upgrades to deal automatically with clutter in the LBC? Will the new dashboard allow for easier management?

CM: In terms of the list view, there are no changes in this release. Going forward we’ll continue with the Local Business Center being the primary place where information is provided to Google. The interaction to get to the different views needs to be improved but we have a huge list of things we need to do. We are working as fast as we can in priority order.

MB: None of the “Top Search Queries” reported back include geo modifiers. Is that information not being shown? Or is it that the general terms with the out the geo phrase generates so much more traffic?

CM: Our report just includes the what part of the querie and and we are then summarizing the results with the where part of the querie. So the where part whether implied or stated are noted the same.

MB: I noticed in my test that roughly 20% of my Top Search Queires were “other”. Will we be able to access that information?

CM: “Top Search Queries” is analougus to Trends in that there is a necessity to protect prvacy on the 20% of the low volume searches. It would be too easy to identify individual searchers if we made this information available.

MB: One of the frustrating issues with the LBC is that it does not divulge the complete information that Google might be showing in Maps. I.E. where 3rd or 4th phone numbers are coming from or where a bad fax number is coming from. Are there any plans with your new interface to make that information more transparent?

CM: We are working on that particularly in the case where we know for certain that someone has verified and claimed a listing. We are working on changes that would make it less likely to display a phone number from other sources so that is going to be improved. 

MB: What is the Timeframe for that?

CM: It is a very high priority. We are already doing it to somne extent but we will be getting more strict going forward.

MB: You noted that the dashboard feature will initially be available only in the US. I am getting feedback that it is visible in Canada. Is that the case? When will it be rolled out internationally?

CM: It is based on the location of the lsting not the localtion of the LBC user. So Canadian LBC users can only see US listings in the new view.

MB: What is the timeframe for broader international rollout?

CM: It is a high priority but we have nothing specific to communicate. It will follow as we are able to provide it but there is no timeline to announce at the moment.

MB: What didn’t I ask that you think is significant about this effort or any of your Local efforts?

CM: This is a brand new set of data that hasn’t been visible before and I am eager to see how people actually use it…getting Google visibility and measurablity will offer huge benefits to the small business person.

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Carter Maslan comments on the new data rich Desktop for the LBC by

30 thoughts on “Carter Maslan comments on the new data rich Desktop for the LBC”

  1. Great interview! some questions answered, some risen.

    looks like I need a US listing to play with to get into further detail with this dashboard.

  2. I haven’t seen it in all my LBC’s yet only one – so I wonder if all issues I’m having today in the LBC is due to the fact they are upgrading.

    Has anyone noticed a difference in how Google is requesting a PIN verification over the phone. They are now calling the location WITH the PIN and then you enter it into the LBC listing. Each time I’ve tried it’s told me the PIN is invalid.

    Previously when using the phone call – the PIN would be generated by Google in the LBC – we’d advise our client of the PIN – initiate the phone call and voila… it was a beautiful thing.
    Now – not so much.

    Just wondering.

    Anyone?

    Joan

  3. I started to scroll through the blogs AFTER I clicked submit.

    I didn’t get any requests for phone verification until today. And yes *hangs head* I’ve been neglectful in my reading all of your posts. Or the bible as I call it.

    yeah for the reports… boo to the PIN.

  4. It would be awesome if they were working on a way to export this into
    an excel document.
    We were checking it out yesterday and didn’t see one.

    This would be a great tool to work with if we could.

    ( it’s a really wonderful upgrade don’t get me wrong, I’m just
    saying… exporting would be way cool and totally rad!!)

    Joan

  5. Opportunities and Disinformation with LBC Dashboard Statistics

    I love information, statistics, tracking data, etc. We have been using it for decades for several businesses. These have been local businesses. We have always focused on two things: sources of business leads, and intent that drove the contact into our business and ultimately the sale. We have done it for years to determine where to put our advertising dollars and how to craft the message of our ads and marketing.

    Data provided in the LBC dashboard, in my opinion is both enlightening and possibly a form of misinformation. I’d like to expound upon that.

    I’ve looked at several LBC accounts. There are terms that create visibility of the businesses in certain maps categories that we anticipated. Surprisingly, though, there are terms that totally threw us. They were unexpected, in some cases irrelevant, and in other cases, directed us toward a category and area….where decades of experience suggested that it just wasn’t highly relevant—and didn’t lead to conversions.

    Surprisingly though, the last example—always led us to a lot of advertising expenditures. It never worked well though, and frankly we tested these areas many times over many years.

    I think in some regards this information reveals the immaturity of Google Maps at this point as a well developed tool. Specifically I’m referring to Google Maps including these businesses in categories that are flat out inappropriate, or including these businesses that are only marginally appropriate. In either case they skew the statistics in ways that potentially make the new product only marginally appropriate…and might lead to advertising/marketing efforts that might only turn up marginal results.

    In our quick research through the LBC dashboard we found some keywords that generated significant traffic wherein a G Map with our business was shown. Here is the problem, though. We looked at the “What phrase”. We kept adjusting the location within our large well-populated metropolitan region to ascertain where our business showed in G Maps within a google.com search and a maps.google.com search.

    For our relatively small suburban county we showed in the top three for a 10 pac for this term. Take the large metro city…and the map showed as #70. We looked at the term relative to two small adjacent suburbs and we showed up 11, and 12 in G Maps and not in the 10 pac. We looked at a nearby large suburban area with a very large population, and one that generates a lot of searches using that suburban county name, because of the population size (about 1 million). The business showed up as 22nd in Google Maps.

    The volume of search phrases for this particular search term is impressive. On the other hand, only deep experience with the industry suggests that the potential payback for efforts to either improve our ranking or pay for advertising through ppc might not be worthwhile.

    In a second example we found a search phrase in the dashboard for one of our businesses that was totally inappropriate. Why are we in this category? It makes no sense. There is no relevance at all.

    In that regard the data provided by Google Maps is totally worthless. It’s a function of Google Maps placing the business in a totally weird category that generates a lot of maps views.

    I’ve discussed the information with Mike. In one case he ascertained that a phrase may have terrific relevance for a business. He hadn’t considered it.

    I’d simply suggest that users of this data take it with a grain of salt at this time. I suspect it would be more valuable once the categories within Maps have a greater degree of relevance and totally remove the categories that have no relevance.

    Dave

  6. Mike:

    I have one other bone to pick with the data from the LBC. The data for total impressions doesn’t jive with data I’m getting from Google adwords. Total impressions for the “what phrase” in the LBC dashboard are significantly less than what I’m seeing in impressions for [exact match] impressions for versions of the what phrase in Google Adwords.

    I wonder if Carter could comment on this?

    Dave

  7. I’m seeing it here.

    Can someone word this for me in some other way? I’m just not getting what Carter means:

    Our report just includes the what part of the querie and and we are then summarizing the results with the where part of the querie. So the where part whether implied or stated are noted the same.

  8. Here is an example with real results from an LBC dashboard:
    ..Query Impressions
    1. option house 170
    2. restaurant 115
    3. restaurants 56
    4. fine dining 47

    These were the top “what” phrases but the where of the query whether assumed or stated has been redacted from the dashboard view. I.E. Restaurant may have come from any of the following search phrases
    restaurant Bradford Pa
    Bradford Pa restaurant
    McKean County restaurant
    restaurant 16701
    restaurant (based on IP)

    But none of that geo detail is available in the dashboard

  9. Hmmm, so the information you listed about IP, zip, etc. is NOT listed in the dashboard. You just have to imagine it being there. Is that right, Mike?

  10. @Dave

    The inability to recharacterize a business that is in the totally wrong category is a problem with Maps that affects the businesses that are in the category as well as the one that should not be. It is problematic and requires more searching skills and time than most people have to ferret out its source.

    The discrepancy between the two measurement systems is of interest and worthy of more focused attention.

    Mike

  11. Here is an interesting little tidbit. We are representing a new business wherein the website has yet to go up. We’ve entered the business info in the local business center. How great…at least for certain searches a version of Maps shows up with contact information.

    Here is the interesting part. We see 0 impressions. We do see actions. They all involve going to the business record. We have no stats as to the “what” part of the relevant search phrases.

    I suspect that the phrase and volume of impressions is tracked through google.com (primarily–and secondarily in maps.google.com. The search phrases then must be aggregated against specific urls prior to distribution.

    Without a url we aren’t seeing impressions and we aren’t seeing search phrases.

    Interesting.

    Dave

  12. Update North of the 49th.

    All the Canadian listings are now missing the Impressions & View stats they had at the beginning of the week, the classic style, no reporting just views / impressions.

    US – listings that were done manually have the new Desktop Rich Data Reporting.

    US – listings added via bulk upload – are now missing the classic Impressions and Views.

    Is there any reason as to why the US – bulk uploads are not part of this? They were pulling views and impressions previously – is the suggestion that the data isn’t accurate previously for these listings? Is this something that is currently under development?

    I like what they have – but come on – what’s the difference in bulk upload listings’ data and a manual uploaded listing’s data? Share the love Google.

    Share the love.

    J

  13. We to have no stats at all in our LBC. Not even the classic impressions and views. We use the bulk upload option. I fear that stats are only going to be available if the listings have been verified. Can anyone verify that?

  14. In the announcement it was noted: The dashboard is accessible to any business owner who has claimed his or her listing in the Local Business Center. So yes that means that a listing would need to go through the verification process to have the stats.

  15. Yes I read that – however; I would have thought that they wouldn’t take away what we currently had with regards to views & impressions, that the verified listings would have the enhancement.

    I was more than a little disappointed to see this turn of events. What it is now “forcing” us to do is verify all the listing. I have clients with over 500 listings at a time. I have some coming down the pipes with over 600. Trying to do manual verifications for loads that size is, quite frankly, challenging.

    It’s unfortunate that the upgrade has lead to the down grade of all the other listings.

    I don’t suppose we know if the beta testing on the “white listing” bulk uploads would have the reporting data showing.. anyone willing to either nod or shake their head?

    Joan

  16. @Joan

    Try switching countries in the far upper right of the LBC screen and see if that helps. Pls Let me know yea or nay

  17. Yes. If I choose a language other than English it will work.

    ( choosen language – francais ( Canada) )

  18. Correction :

    Any other selection than ENGLISH US … English ( UK) & English (Australian) show the views and Impressions.

  19. drat it all!! There goes my glimmer of hope. Did you see it floating away on that mild June breeze?

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