Google Continues Debranding Local – Google Maps App Becoming Local’s Forward Facing Brand

In 2013, with the loss of Places Search, I wrote a post titled Is Google Debranding Local? where I posited that Google was deemphasizing Local as a consumer facing brand. I also noted that Google would make sure that local would “persist as a service feeding critical contextually relevant data to the many current Google products that use local data”.

I would contend that this has in fact occurred and that the basic trend of removing Local branding and local specific features in other products has continued. In June of last year, Google rebranded the backend of local as Google My Business. This allowed Google to create a stand alone app by that name and further integrate the data collection back end needed for local into G+ Pages.

LG_gifs_howToReview_gplus_US_0212a (2)The recent removal of G+ Local search and the Local link from Google Plus further reinforces the idea of removing locally focused forward facing branding and functionality and I think that we may see more changes along this line. When it was announced Google positioned the change to their most active local review writers as a way to make life simpler:

We are making some changes to streamline the Google+ experience, including removing Google+ Local from the navigation bar. You will still be able to see and edit your content under the Reviews tab on your profile, in addition to searching and reviewing local places on +Google Maps, Google Maps for Mobile and Google.com. We look forward to rolling out more features and improvements based on your feedback in the future.

I would suggest that with mobile now the dominant platform for  searching and user time, that the future of Google’s focus on local will be as a value added content for the Google Maps App(s) and to a lesser extent browser based mobile search. I don’t think we will see any forward facing “Google Local Brand” any time soon if ever.

While I think we will continue to see local data as an integral part of Google desktop search we may see even less of it elsewhere (like on G+) as Google uses local data (business listings & review content) to further their goal of positioning Google Maps as a dominant mobile destination.

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
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5 thoughts on “Google Continues Debranding Local – Google Maps App Becoming Local’s Forward Facing Brand”

  1. Along the line of Google Maps on mobile (I’m on iPhone), lately I realized how much I depend on it for finding what I need for when I’m around town. Using a straight-up Google search can give me some strange results (I think based on where the provider is located), so Maps does the trick. Just need to learn to capitalize more on it.

    As for other maps apps – does anyone really use anything else on a regular basis?

    1. @James
      I use Apple Maps a fair bit of the time for most navigation and place directions. It fails on things like natural POIs and parks so when it is something like that I fall back to Google Maps.

      Your browser on iPhone is often dislocated by Google due to the way they read the point of entry on your mobile network. This is particularly true if you are using Safari in private mode and not logged in.

  2. When is G+ ever going to matter? Unless it is truly better than facebook or more fun than twitter, Pintrest and the myriad other social media. it just isn’t relevent! Almost None of my real face-to-face friends and business associates that I care about are on it. Or if they are, they NEVER post anything. Its a see of realtors on that and they have NOTHING interesting to say!

    1. @Lindsey
      Well it matters to some. It isn’t for everyone and it certainly is not yet and may never work for local. Although even now it provides an announcement capability for SMBs to put a message on the front page of Google. But until it has 800 million or a billion users it might never achieve the scale needed to serve the local market.

      I actually enjoy it more that Twitter and find that 1)I like the level of interaction & long form structure and 2)I find the following and privacy models preferable to Facebook. It is an interest based “social network” not “friend” based. So if you are looking for friends you will likely be disappointed. If you are looking to follow specific interest then you may find things of value there.

      I personally find it a better “newsfeed” than Twitter and for me, generates about as much traffic as Twitter.

  3. I’m with you Mike. G+ allows me/clients to post relevant messages to just some or all of my circles, which I view as a HUGE advantage over T or FB.

    Google is onto some potentially great things here with G+. For users and merchants alike.

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