Category Archives: Google+ Local

Google Testing New Local Listing “About Page” Layout – Just What are They Thinking?

Google is testing a new enhanced “card” layout for the About page on local listings. The new layout, visible to me in Firefox only, was pointed out by Mary Kelly Gaebel of ADP.

The big difference is that the page now can be displayed in either a single, two or three column layouts depending on browser window width as opposed to the current fixed two column display. Reviews will now follow the same columnar structure as the rest of the page and will not be limited to a current one column display. While this view is not yet visible in mobile, one assumes that if the view were to become universal it would likely push to mobile as well.

The page adds three iconic based calls to action near the top; review, directions & photos. The review summary has been moved up the page and photos have been moved down the page. Geo information including street address, category, hours, description and map are now consolidated into a single card near the top titled “Contact Information. “Similar Places” from around the web no longer show and “reviews from around the web” have been moved up the page to be nearer the top.

The real question about this change is why here, why now. The About Page of the local listing has become virtually inaccessible on Google. Since reviews were pushed to the front page and Places search was replaced with a the new Google Maps, it takes searchers anywhere from 2 to 4 clicks to get to the page. I am confident that visitation has plummeted. It is hard to understand a visual makeover of this page when there appears (at least to an outsider) that there are so many other more critical issues to deal with… Makes one think of Nero fiddling while Rome is burning.

Here is a screenshot of the three column width view (click to view larger):

three-wide-editied

 

LocalU Odds and Ends

Local-Advanced-U_180x70Lot’s has been happening at LocalU. We have an advanced LocalU coming up Monday in NYC that has just 5 seats left. If you do sign up be sure to use the discount code WS-LUA10 for 10% off. If you are already signed up be sure to reach out to me and introduce yourself.

We will be announcing our (very busy) winter & spring speaking schedule shortly and it looks like we will be in Dallas, Springfield (MA), Valley Forge, Harrisburg and hopefully the Cupertino area (and perhaps a few more places as well). We are now scheduling for May and the fall of 2014 so if you are interested in having us come to your city, let us know.

We hope to have our full video tape of the LocalU advanced session in Seattle available for purchase shortly and some other cool content as well. We will keep you posted.

We have been busy at the LocalU blog as well with some great articles over the past few months that you might have missed:

Where Should a New Business Create a Listing: Google+ Page or Google Places for Business Dashboard? - Mike Blumenthal

The Real Truth About SEO & Call Tracking - Mary Bowling

Is Your Website Ready for the Holidays? - Mary Bowling

What Kind of Google+ Page Is It? – A Visual Guide to Google+ Local Pages - Mike Blumenthal

How Long Should Your Business Description Be in the Google Places for Business Dashboard? - Mike Blumenthal

Have You Tried Google Support for Local Lately? - Mary Bowling

How To Segment Local Search In Google Analytics (with Free Dashboard!) - Ed Reese (I particularly like the free dashboard that Ed created that gives some incredible insights into where your local visitors are coming from. And what is better than free?).

There will be light postings next week due to travel. I hope to see you in NYC next week.

 

 

New Countries Added to Places for Business Category Tool – Volunteers Needed

google-places-iconWe have just upgraded the Google Places Category tool with categories for the new dashboard from:
UK - United Kingdom contributed by Andrew Loy, Occupancy Marketing
NL  - Netherlands contributed by Eduard de Boer
FR  - France contributed by Ken Fagan
Aus  - Austria contributed by Petra Kraft
IT - Italy contributed by Andrea Scarpetta
CA - Canada contributed by Darren Shaw

Norway has been contributed by Aleksander Steinsvik, Crosspath Media but is not yet loaded.

Here are the countries that have been added to the new dashboard for which I do not yet have categories and am asking for volunteers:

Argentina Liechtenstein
Brazil Malaysia
Bulgaria Mexico
Chile Pakistan
Colombia Poland
Croatia Romania
Egypt Russia
Finland Saudi Arabia
Greece Singapore
Hong Kong Slovakia
Hungary South Africa
India Switzerland
Indonesia Taiwan
Israel the Philippines
Japan Ukraine
Kenya United Arab Emirates
Korea

If you would like your 15 seconds of fame and a link and live in one of the above countries here are the instructions to gather the categories from the new dashboard (obviously I wold appreciate it if you sent them along):

Continue reading

Google Becoming Slightly More Transparent About Nuking Reviews

Update 9/28: I had myself taken off as a manager of Barbara’s page and my review instantly lost the notice and showed back up on the listing.

Historically at Google Local, if a review triggered the spam filter, the reviewer would still see the review associated with the business if they were logged in and other users would not. The reviewer would have no clue as to why the review wasn’t showing.

This “technique” for handling “spammy” reviews led to many, many posts in the forums inquiring about why a given review wasn’t showing. Google has now implemented at least a modicum of communication in this regard and is tagging flagged reviews with an alert.

Screen Shot 2013-09-24 at 10.51.31 AM

Is this enough communication and enough transparency? I would suggest that while it is better than before it still misses the mark.

1) Google has chosen to make the announcement in a users review section which I assume is infrequently visited

2)The complaints are still coming into the forum with regularity

3)The explanation given provides little in the way of helping the user understand what is going on if they do happen to see the notice.

My review of Barbara Oliver & Co. Jewelry was flagged because I am a manager of her G+ Page. Perhaps a legitimate reason to not show the review but if I were to read the help file that would not be at all clear.

Filtering reviews is a difficult dance between users and a complicated algo that is at best imperfect at identifying spam. Google has always erred on the side of opacity to prevent spammers from learning too much about their techniques.

The problem with that approach is that spammers figure it out anyways and regular users and businesses are inevitably punished. This occurs without any understanding of how or why on their part. Yelp, while imperfect in many things, handles their spam classification in a much more transparent way that while not ideal at least does a better job of communicating to the reviewer that their review will not be displayed. I believe that Google could learn from that example and with some careful thought do even better at solving this problem.

Upgraded Google Places for Business Dashboard Listings Now Allow Managers to be Added

google-places-iconOnce a listing  in the Places Dashboard has been upgraded to G+ Page social functionality, Google inextricably intertwines the listing with the social Page with both (mostly) positive and (some) negative effects. For example deleting the G+ Page will now delete the Dashboard listing and changing owners of the Page will transfer ownership of the listing.

Google has just announced that this also means that you can add managers to a listing in the Dashboard:

Update – September 19

Starting on September 19, new Places dashboard users with upgraded local Google+ pages will be able to invite other users to manage the page. You can read more about admin roles for pages here.

Please note that only pages that have been upgraded to have social features will have this multiple manager functionality. Owners of eligible pages will be able to invite others to manage a page, or remove other managers.

To add a manager:

  1. 1.From the listing dashboard, click on the gear icon on the upper right and select Manage listing access.
  2. 2. Select Add Managers and enter in the email address of the desired new manager.

Please note that managers must accept the invitation via email before being able to manage a page.

 

To remove a manager:

  1. From the listing dashboard, click on the gear icon on the upper right and select Manage listing access.
  2. Click on the X associated with the person you’d like to remove.

Please note that removing a manager means that account will no longer be able to edit, post, or act as the page. That account’s former actions will remain intact.

To transfer ownership:

  1. From your listing dashboard, click the gear icon in the upper-right corner of your screen and choose Manage listing access.
  2. Click dropdown arrow on the card for the Manager you’d like to promote to Owner, and select Transfer ownership to…

This integration of functionality is the fruition of the vision that most in the industry had when Google first rolled out the G+ Pages for local in 2012. It has been a long time in coming and we are still waiting for many existing old Dashboards to be converted.

Meanwhile Google has slowly and steadily been adding new countries to the list where new claimants will be directed to the new dashboard automatically. Those include: Russia, India, Mexico, Ukraine, South Africa, Israel, Malaysia, Indonesia, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Greece, Slovakia, Korea, Egypt, Morocco, Japan, Brazil, Argentina, Taiwan, Colombia, Chile, Hungary, Romania, the Philippines, Poland, Bulgaria, Hong Kong, Pakistan, Kenya, and Macau.

There is still work to be done by Google, like upgrading the bulk upload and integrating it into the new Dashboard but these new changes seem to imply that that upgrade will occur sooner or later. Having recently transferred some clients from Bulk to the new Dashboard in an effort to speed data updates, I have found that the interface, while not quite as fast to work with as the Bulk interface, has potential to get to that point.

Compared to the incredibly confused mishegas that is the G+ Page management interface, the Dashboard is a pleasure to work in and with. Essentially now any new business can work in either the dashboard or the G+ Pages management interface and expect the exact same outcomes for their local data. I would, for a number of reasons, suggest that going the Places for Business Dashboard route is the preferable choice. For more details on this logic see my most recent post at LocalU.org: Where Should a New Business Create a Listing: Google+ Page or Google Places for Business Dashboard?

What is the Value of Embedding a G+ Post on Your Blog? Is there a Local Search Use Case?

Screen Shot 2013-09-19 at 12.01.39 PMGoogle+ has recently implemented the ability for a Google + post to be embedded on a page with comments on a different domain. It is simmple to implement requiring a small snippet of javascript (<script type=”text/javascript” src=”https://apis.google.com/js/plusone.js”></script>) be embedded in your header and then simply copy the embed code from the post at + and embed it on your page.

The question is: what are the implications of this for local marketing? Will the post get more pages views and thus rise in Google search? Will it drive traffic to Google and away from your site? Or it will allow for more engagement on your site and the opportunity to both track and convert clients?

Yesterday I posted my Web Equity Infographic there and it generated a fair bit of conversation so I am embedding it here as an example and trying to wrap my head around the importance of this.

What will the search implications be of replicating here? Your thoughts?

Canadian Categories from the New Dashboard Now Added to Google Category Tool

google-places-iconWith the help of Darren Shaw of Whitespark, we have recently added the list of Canadian categories from the new Google Places for Business Dashboard to our searchable Google Places Category Tool.

The new Places for Business Dashboard is country specific and the categories that one sees are IP & country specific. Thus I need to ask your help in gathering the categories for the countries that now have the new dashboard.

If you would like to volunteer 10 minutes of your time to help me gather categories in one of the following countries to which you have access please contact me at mike@blumenthals.com and I will send you instructions. Not much glory in this job besides public recognition, a link and knowing that you have helped others better understand Google Places.

Countries for which I need help obtaining the category list:

Austria
Belgium
Croatia
Czech Republic
Denmark
Finland
France
Germany
Ireland
Italy
Liechtenstein
Netherlands
New Zealand
Norway
Portugal
Singapore
Spain
Sweden
Switzerland
UK

New Google Places For Business Listings Can Now Be Transferred to a New Owner via G+ Page Management

Update: 12:30: I have changed the title of the article from saying “Account” to “Listings” as what is being transferred is the G+ Page ownership NOT the account.

I learned the hard way this past week that a business listing in the new Google Places for Business Dashboard that has been upgraded to social functionality, is intimately tied to that social presence. Delete the social page and you delete the business listing forcing you to reclaim the listing. The upshot of this is once you go social you can’t go back. At least not without some aggravation.

Dan Pritchett, who plays a significant role in the dashboard development at Google, said this:

To be clear, with the new dashboard the G+ page and the listing are tightly associated. Every G+ Local page is backed by a listing and once you get a G+ Local page, your places listing is tied to it. Removing one always removes the other.

But like all Google “features” there is a flipside to this. Since the business listing is intimately associated with the social G+ page it’s ownership can now be transferred via the G+ Page ownership transfer option. This seems like a simple function and so self evident that one might ask why I am even writing about it. Despite the obvious nature of the feature, it has has never before been possible.

Again according to Dan who responded in the same G+ post:

Okay, just clarified, that once you have a G+ page, transferring ownership of the Local page also transfers ownership of the listing.

Obviously the steps necessary to being able to transfer a listing that is not yet social are probably more cumbersome than just deleting the listing from your account (again with not without some scary verbiage). But if the listing is already social then the process is relatively straight forward via the G+ interface. Here are the instructions:

Step 1 of 3 Make sure you’re using Google+ as your page.

Step 2 of 3 Click Managers associated with the page you’d like to transfer.

Step 3 of 3 Click the dropdown arrow on the card of the person and select Transfer ownership to _name of user_.

OK class. To summarize where and when one can transfer ownership of a listing. There may be a pop quiz later in the week.

  • If the business listing is in the new Google Places Dashboard AND the listing has been upgraded to the have social functionality, you can transfer it via the Google Pages ownership transfer technique.
  • If it is in the old dashboard it can be reclaimed by another account without the need for a transfer. Although leaving the listing in the old dashboard may impinge on your ability to leave review responses so you probably want to delete the listing from the old account.
  • If it is in the new dashboard but not yet social, it would need to be deleted and then reclaimed to effect a transfer

Now if Google would just have one solution, improve the language of these processes and offer some degree of granularity in the delete function, we might be getting someplace.

How to Delete Your Google Places for Business Dashboard Listing in One Easy Step (Or Brainfarts + Bad UI = Bad Outcomes)

Since Google has allowed  business listings created via the (old) Places Dashboard to merge with and take on attributes of a G+ Page for local, it has been standard procedure in certain problem cases to delete the G+ Page and return the listing to a non-social listing. I had done so on numerous occasions with no ill effects.

So when I when I was demonstrating to a client exactly how easy it was to create the social features for a business listing from the new Places for Business Dashboard, I assumed that there would be no issues if I deleted the social pages and reverted the listing back to a basic listing until they were ready for a more social listing. Well the old saw, “if you assume you make an ass out of u and me” definitely applies in this situation.

If you delete a business’s social page of an upgraded listing, the listing will also be deleted from the new Places for Business Dashboard and require reverification to add back. The process will also delete any other Google+ entities that you may have created.

Here is the Google messaging when you go to delete the social page of an upgraded business listing:

delete-page1
Sometimes small, unclear sentences can have BIG consequences

 

When Google says all Google Services, they mean ALL GOOGLE SERVICES including your business listing from your dashboard.

What can you do if you or your client has an upgraded business listing and don’t need or want the social tab? As far as I can tell, nothing. While Google offers up the ability to shut off the video, photos and business reviews (of other businesses) tabs they do not offer any facility, once a business listing in the new dashboard has been upgraded to social & video, to shut of the social stream on the listing.

Path: Pages/Manage this page/Settings (scroll to bottom)
Path: Pages/Manage this page/Settings (scroll to bottom)