Comatose Google My Business Description Moved from Hospital to Long Term Care on Path to Burial & Replacement with Attributes

attributesThe business description that Google has been asking businesses to create forever and that has not been seen anyplace for about half that long has finally been removed from Google MyBusiness. (Thanks to Dan Leibson of Local SEO Guide for pointing this out). It is soon to be “replaced” with “attributes” that offer more granular characteristics of your business.

The description field has long been in a near dead state with no obvious purpose other than to possibly give Google clues as to how businesses might spam them. But its demise is interesting on several fronts.

August 2016
The Introduction/Description field is no longer editable in Google My Business. It only displays to users in Google+, and may still be edited there. Editing of attributes, coming soon to all Google My Business views, will be an improved way to describe your business to users on Google Search and Maps.
8/1/2016
Help Center

The description data has not seen the light of day for many many many months (has it been years?) but Google hung on to requesting the data.

I can imagine the discussion between the Local group and the Plus group as their relationship frayed and finally dissolved: “You take it. No you take it. You take it. No you take it. You take it. No you take it.” Low man on the totem pole finally “won” the discussion. Why wasn’t it just thrown away? Google NEVER throws data away. Even in the negative (i.e. spam) use case when they can extract value from it.

But even more interesting is the fact that Google will now be “giving” businesses the ability to contribute their own attributes from a more structured list of attributes helping define the local business in ever more discreet ways.

However as you look at the history of these attributes you realize that Google is not single sourcing them from the business owners. Google has never trusted businesses enough to give them the freedom to be the sole source of their own information. Not even things as basic as hours or phone number. If Google finds information that they trust more than yours, they have and will replace it in your listing. Now at least they have the courtesy to alert you in the GMB dashboard that they arbitrarily changed your hours.

android-crowdsource-e1467049941816Attributes appears to be no different in that regard. Google is multi sourcing them. If you recall Google first started publicly asking Local Guides to identify attributes of places that they had visited late last year. More trusted bulk accounts received the privilege with the release of the GMB API in May. Then last week they gave “regular” Map users the ability to confirm or nix the attributes that Google had identified for a business. One presumes that these structured attributes have also been sourced from a 3rd party data source and, if your website is well structured and informative, from there as well.

Once they have in place enough sources that they can predict with some big data based broad strokes what any given business listing’s attribute should be, they will then give the business owner the “privilege” of adding them. This effectively gives them both a way to extend the reach and depth of their data AND check it for veracity.

Don’t for a minute think that you somehow own or even are a primary source for Google My Business data. You are one source for that data and a not very trusted one at that.

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
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23 thoughts on “Comatose Google My Business Description Moved from Hospital to Long Term Care on Path to Burial & Replacement with Attributes”

  1. Yes they are still visible AND perhaps editable in Plus, they are no longer visible or editable in the GMB. And certainly not visible anyplace someone might see them like the Knowledge Panel or Maps.

    Exactly how they are editable is not clear. And they are veritably hidden in the new Plus.

  2. same experience as Scott.
    I go to my Plus page, click edit details.
    ‘edit details’ redirects me to Maps where the description is not visible and hence not editable.

  3. FWIW – in the G+ Preview, you can click on edit profile, which goes to aboutme.google.com and it appears to be editable there.

  4. There’s a way to edit/add descriptions by clicking on About button when looking at the business listing in the new G+.

    The other new feature there is the link to G+ photo albums, which seem that would not be lost in transition.

  5. I think the greater concern here is that business owners are very likely to be fearful of what the crowd sourcing of data is likely to create. I think this is more a result of too many businesses who have not bothered to do anything with their listing, including verifying. I’d suggest that well over 50% of the local businesses I deal with are still completely lost with what Google is doing, hence their decision to crowd source data. If only they’d make it easier and promote it more, this wouldn’t be a problem.

    1. @Marc I would agree with you 100% except we were saying the same thing in 2008, 2009, 2010…. Google has always taken this obtuse path, have always confused and dismayed businesses and I fear that their approaches will continue to do so.

  6. I wish we had a more detailed way to share with Google about specific business services that don’t readily fit into the limited categories. I liked using the description to list categories that GMB doesn’t offer and then anchor texting that category to the appropriate page of the website. Some businesses just don’t neatly fit into the boxes Google has defined.

    1. @Michael you do have a way; the business website, its internal links, external links, review content, categories at other IYPs, etc etc.

      The problem is that it’s complicated

    1. @matt beyond the reasons given above? Obviously Google does not perceive enough value to them in showing the description in local. They haven’t showed it for such a long time they obviously made the decision long ago.

  7. There’s a way to edit/add from the G+ page. You must go to the new G+ view though.

    Once in the new view, click “About” and then select “Story” (Google’s new name for Biz Description).

    If you haven’t added a Story, you can click the red + at the bottom of the page. An “Add Info” popup box will appear. Then select “Story”.

    That being said, I don’t think it’s a particularly useful feature.

  8. What a PITA, It took me a little bit to figure this out. I don’t understand the logic but its Google, come no surprise. Thank you all for sharing your insight! I can understand sourcing some information but always a pain when Google gets it wrong. I deal with this for my hotels constantly. BTW, love the title for this post!

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