Google Local Weekend Update

Here is Google’s recent update for G+ Local and several other updates from around the web:

Here are Google’s minute markers with my comments in italics:

0:01 Introduction

0:16 Listings take a week to go live, a few weeks for link from Google Places dashboard to work

It might take longer than a week depending on their internal build cycles.

0:40 Verified social pages now showing message if edit not accepted

This message appears:

Google + Local editing message

0:59 Fewer categories displaying because uncommon categories no longer appearing

Choosing from the list of auto generated categories increases the likelihood that a category or two will show. Maybe speculation in Linda Buquet’s forum about categories changing dramatically is in fact the case? Clearly the missing categories is NOT a bug but an intentional decision on the part of Google. 

1:18 International phone number formatting issue with verified social pages

1:28 Formatting not appearing on owner descriptions

HTML tags are no longer showing but some rich text formatting is not showing although some is. Google has had problems showing rich text on local listings in the past and they finally seem to be fixing this issue. See above image. 

1:45 Google+ Local best practice: edit verified social pages via Google+

What happens if a page is edited via the Dashboard? Not sure but I am sure it isn’t pretty. 

2:14 Forum tip: better mobile forum display, yay!

 

Some other updates that have occurred in local while I was traveling:

As first spotted by Joy Hawkins of Imprezzio Marketing, Google has finally, finally improved their messaging around businesses that have moved. Because Google’s system does not handle the case of a business moving very well it has been necessary to close the old listing in Maps. This has resulted in the misleading message indicating that an active business had closed. Google has added some nuance to the message:

Also as noted by Linda Buquet, Google is now adding competing businesses to the rollover/rollout for a local business on the front page of search. If you need a reminder: you do not own the information, the local page or local search results. You can expect to see more of this going forward as Google monetizes G+.

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Google Local Weekend Update by

10 thoughts on “Google Local Weekend Update”

  1. Mike, does that mean custom categories do not carry weight anymore? or just do not show up when looking at the listing? If it is just not showing, then who cares. If custom categories are now irrelevant, which I can not find any current instance of, then that is a different story all together. Thanks

  2. @David

    Great question. At this point, they seem to still be relevant.

    But… if you notice, categories are nowhere to be found in the new G+ interface. In fact in that interface you are not even allowed to select a category with any granularity at all. You are only given an option to indicate that you are a retail store or a restaurant.

    Also note that the main interface to create categories, Places for Business, is going away. I don’t know exactly what that means for the future of categories. But if categories are no more in G+ and the dashboard is gone then some future change might apply to both standard AND custom categories.

    What’s Google got planned? Who knows. For now categories and custom categories are relevant. What the future holds is unclear.

  3. So then does it makes sense to link your pages to new the new interface as of yet since the categories are so limited? Will that override the categories currently selected in dashboard? Or six of one, half a dozen of another?

  4. @David
    Google has never used inbound links to the Place/Local + as a way to determine category. There is no reason to believe that they would do so now.

    If you read the Location Prominence patent you will see that they define an “Authority Document” which is the website for the business or if they don’t have one then the most prominent business listing. The relevance of a listing comes from the categories, the business name, review content and the content of that document. If categories were to go away there may be additional signals directed at the website but they would not be about the G+ Local page or inbound links to it.

  5. That is not what I was asking, but that is an interesting point, because I read a post the other day from someone on SEOMoz that said that was a valid strategy. What I was asking is does it make sense to connect the google + plus local page currently instead of still utilizing the dashboard as the main source. It seems by connecting to the google + local and selecting the generic category there, that may override the category I am selecting as my primarily category in the current dashboard format. Considering the obvious limitations to the current categories in plus, maybe leaving it as is, until forced otherwise would be beneficial. Thanks

  6. @David

    At this point, the G+ Business page DOES NOT override the categories created elsewhere in the system. IE MM and the Dashboard are still feeding the beast.

    The reason to link to the +Local page would be for reputation management and front page exposure, particularly on branded search. Beyond that I can not see a reason.

  7. I’ve posted about the category issue a few times in great detail. Here are a couple points/tips.

    Currently even though Google is only showing 1 or 2 cats and I hiding the rest, I believe she’s reading them all and ranking them all – even uncommon cats.

    PLUS there is a way to see hidden cats – if you need to see if a listing has a specific cat and you don’t have access to the dashboard. (As in doing competitive research.)

    If you search City + Category in G Maps it will show you the category EVEN if it’s hidden on the G+ Local page.

    Example: Denver Sedation Dentist (A custom/non standard category)
    http://goo.gl/maps/QFtnD

    Maps search shows the ones that have that category listed in their dashboard. But if you click to view their G+L pages, most just show the generic category Dentist or some other cat.

    So to me that says Google is still reading and indexing those cats even though they don’t show on the listing currently.

    The same thing holds true after merge – providing you already had cats entered in the Places dashboard. They’ll show with the right map search.

    After everything upgrades to G+ and the Places dashboard is gone – who knows for sure. My spidey senses tell me the ability to select categories may go away and Google may use whatever 3rd party data she feels is relevant, to categorize the business – just like she does with G+L snippets. (Which as we know are sometimes wrong.)

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