Google Local Tidbits from LocalU and Beyond

At the last Local U Advanced we were fortunate to have two Googlers present; Joel Headley of Customer Support and Dan Pritchett, the lead engineer on the new Google Places for Business Dashboard. The environment was very open (with cameras and tweets off) and it was an incredible opportunity to get questions answered about Google Local. I picked up a few very interesting tidbits during these sessions that I can share.

– Custom Categories are going away. Except in the bulk upload environment where they can still be used (hmmm).

– The new Google Places for Business Dashboard had a recently imposed 25 business limit. But Dan Pritchett, hearing the sigh of dismay in the room, returned to Mt View and had the limit upped to 100. (wow)

– As a result of this inquiry I learned (since I don’t deal with very many service area businesses) that SABs can not use the bulk upload tool and are relegated to having to claim each listing (Thanks to Linda Buquet). Thus the 25 business limit meant endless account creation for SABs with 100 listings or more. And still does if you have more than 100. (grr)

– During LocalU I received an inquiry from a local SEO that wanted to report some spammy service area businesses but as you may or may not know, since SABs have been pulled out of MapMaker, the report a problem link does not work. The solution? (thanks to Keenan Glass for this tip.) Search for the business on the main page results and click on the “Feedback” link at the bottom of the Knowledge panel. This sends reports directly to the Google quality team rather than into MapMaker. (cool)

– Joel noted during the presentation and reiterated via post yesterday: “if you’re calling my support team for verification, have the listing’s account email posted somewhere on the website of your business”. Thus if the account is under a generic gmail account instead of the domain email Google can verify that the listing actually belongs to the account. This protects both the account holder and Google and provides them with one more tool to resolve disputes. Worried about spam? Put the information on an obscure page that isn’t indexed and as an image. (nice to know)

– And for those of you NOT in the US – Google announced that the the new Places for Business dashboard will be rolling out to new users in the following countries: Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Austria, Norway, Croatia, Finland, Singapore, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein. (Liechtenstein?)

-Not related to LocalU but the link at the bottom of the 7-pack has returned although now it goes to Maps view with the list and not to the Places search (egads…what happens when you have the new Maps?)

– I also made an inadvertent discovery  as  how to allow for Google reviews on the iPhone and iPad. (Let me know via email if you need this information).

-Those that attended LocalU noted how refreshing and useful it was to actually hear from Google themselves about the realities of Local. In fact at both SMX Advanced and LocalU applause broke out spontaneously several times when the discussion of Google local support came up. Now thats a change. (Its about time. Nice to see Google finally growing up. 🙂 )

The joke was that perhaps some day soon Matt Cutts would be referred to as the Joel Headley of Web Search.

And the required caveat: Google is one of the sponsors of LocalU (although not this one).


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

21 thoughts on “Google Local Tidbits from LocalU and Beyond”

  1. This is FANTASTIC information Mike!!

    My only gripe is that business owners in Canada and Australia aren’t getting the new places dashboard yet. That list of countries (croatia? liechtenstein?) really makes no sense.

  2. Mark – Ditto, can’t believe Canada is not on that list. what gives….?!

    pro tips on reporting spam and adding gmail address to site to do verification with support. – sweet!

  3. Thanks for all the great information!

    The real question is, if I have a preexisting account with over 300+ SAB listings that were uploaded with the bulk upload tool back in the day, do I have to create a new account and re-claim them all?

  4. @Lauren – sit tight. We’re looking at a way to deal with accounts like yours over the coming months. So, anyone with a verified bulk upload should wait for upcoming news instead of trying some other work around.

    Thanks for being patient!

  5. Mike, those are some genuine gems! They really are. I am sure I will be referring back to this post to re-read what you’ve mentioned about things like putting the email on the website and reporting SAB spam. Totally great tips. Thank you!

  6. If custom categories are going away, can we then expect an easier way to report new categories to Google? They are missing a lot here in Denmark and using the categories wrong. Often it’s not the most search categories in the business area you can choose.

    1. @Anders
      They talk of being able to collect and add new categories. I have yet to see that happen other than informally. Please send me a list of categories you would like to see and I will forward it.

  7. @Mike and Joel –

    Thanks for the help. I guess I’ll just sit tight and keep my eyes peeled for more information, then. Man, SABs are a pain . . .

  8. I need to back up a little bit as the information I have come across is confusing. I have a couple of questions I am hoping you can answer for me:

    1. Are we to stop claiming our Business Listing on Google Places?

    2. If we are to continue claiming our business listing on Google Places, should we also claim it on Google + Local.

    3. If we are to claim our listings on both, should we claim Google + Local or Google Places first?

    4. Can a Business just have a Google + Local page without a Google + personal page?

    5. My understanding is only Google + profile (personal) pages can have authorship. So, I have the owner’s personal profile and Google + Local page on the same account. Question-does the benefit of the authorship extend to the Google + Local Page?

    1. @Maragaret
      Essentially they are the same thing. The only difference is that one has social and one does not. Both are G+ Pages.

      The best and most complete guidance is here but the upshot is that it is best to wait for your dashboard to be upgraded and you are offered the single button upgrade before making the leap to Google+ Page for local/social. There are other cases, other ways and a myriad of options but most of them include either more risk or more agro.

      Authorship is a around a person not a company. A persona in G+ authors a page on their website and if the two are properly linked then a photo will appear next to the web result. You only need a personal G+ presence for this NOT a social G+ Page for the business

      Publisher is around a company. To have it you need a social G+ Page and then create the link between the social G+ Page (for local) and the website.

  9. Thank you for your quick response! I would like to follow up with a few quick questions…
    to follow up with just a couple more questions to clarify”
    -I have been using strictly G+ to ‘claim’ listings for the past two months. I was now told I needed to log into Google Places to claim the listings ALSO. Are you saying they are really the same thing now?

    -should I be claiming the listings in both places-if so any preference to which one first?

    -Or should I be claiming just one or the other?

    Thank you for clarification!

  10. They are just different interfaces to the same canonical record in the Google local index.

    -I have been using strictly G+ to ‘claim’ listings for the past two months. I was now told I needed to log into Google Places to claim the listings ALSO. Are you saying they are really the same thing now?

    Pick one or the other. But Google recommends the latter unless you absolutely need social for some reason. The latter, on new claims, allows for easy upgrade to social

    -should I be claiming the listings in both places-if so any preference to which one first?
    You should not be claiming in both places

    -Or should I be claiming just one or the other?
    All new claims should be done via the Google Places for Business Dashboard and then select the one button upgrade to the social + IF and only IF you need social and/or video on your G+ Page for local.

  11. I have claimed several on Google + Business. So, if I haven’t claimed any on Google Places, should I then not claim them if I already have a Google +.

    And then from here on out just use Google Places?

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