Earlier this summer, Google removed a large number of residentially located service area businesses (SAB) from the index for not hiding their address. While Google was trying to clean up the index, a number of these SABs were removed in error. It turned out that Google was unable to restore many of those erroneously removed to the index. Some business listings have been restored but others have been waiting now for a number of months.
Google updated their guidance on this issue last night:
Here’s the state of these listings now (October 8):
Sevice-area businesses who are experiencing the “We currently do not support this location” message should –
1.) Check to make sure you comply with the quality guidelines, particularly hiding your address, if appropriate.
2.) Once you’re sure you comply, contact the support team (select the last option).
3.) If possible, the team will reinstate listings that are OK.
4.) Sometimes, the support team cannot reinstate a listing, even if it’s OK. These listings cannot be brought back because of an issue that we’re still working on fixing. The support team will send an email back saying the listing is down due to a technical glitch. When we have an update, we will follow up with all of the people who got the message about the technical glitch.
What’s the status of listings in #4?
For listings in #4, there isn’t much course of action other than waiting. Please know that our team’s doing everything we can to get them reinstated when possible.
Good news — we’ve been able to bring back some of the listings that incorrectly had the “We currently do not support this location” error. Many previously deleted service area businesses that had their addresses correctly hidden a few weeks ago are back.
If your listing’s not back yet, please know that we are still working on it. In the meantime, please review the quality guidelines and this article on service area businesses. Make sure your listing complies.
For those of you still experiencing this problem, there is only one option. File your request for reinclusion via the Google for Business Help files and wait. Note that if Google is unable to recover your listing quickly then you have no choice but to wait for their engineering solution. Businesses that followed Google’s original advice to recreate their listing have not had any success.
This recent email from Google support sent to me by Kane Jamison of Hood Web Management clearly indicates that Google is working on these listings on a first come first serve basis:
When Google rolled out G+ Local with Zagat reviews they changed the ordering of review content from time based to most helpful. As part of that ordering they added a new category of reviewer known as a Top Reviewers. These were folks that had reviewed a large number of locations. Google also added the ability for a business (and I presume its many managers) to leave reviews of other businesses.
Like all things Google the Most Helpful ordering of reviews is algo based and includes elements like the quality of the reviewer (in terms of followers on G+ and number of reviews), the language of the review, the recency of the review and who knows what else. One of the attributes of reviewer quality is the Top Reviewer assignation. According to this post to become a Top Reviewer one needs lots of reviews, a significant number of followers and a reviews that have been found helpful by others. It is not clear whether being reviewed by a Top Reviewer increases rank but there is every reason to assume that a review from a Top Reviewer is carefully watched by Google for other signals and content.
What never occurred to me until this morning was that one way to become a Top Reviewer was to do so as a Google+ Page for your business rather than an individual. A business page can have as many as 50 managers so reviews would aggregate more quickly and ease the burden of any individual reviewer. Obviously this business recognized the opportunity and has leveraged it.
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:
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.
Google has confirmed a new bug for G+ Local pages this afternoon: Many uploaded photos are missing in action. They are looking for additional examples so if this has happened to you please report it in this post at the Google for Business Forum. (Thanks to Dr. Paul Parker of Parker Center for Plastic Surgery of NJ for the heads up.)
Since early in the year when Adwords Express, Google’s simplified Adwords product for SMBs, was upgraded we have heard little about the product. The interface was removed from most dashboards and we have seen no effort to promote it. Today, every Places Dashboard account that I have received this email providing a $100 discount and a strong pitch for the full Adwords product. Where has Adwords Express gone? Is it history or will it return when Google finally finishes the integration of local into Plus and offers a full on marketing portal?
This sort of ad leaves plenty of doubt about its future.
The initial rollout allowing single location businesses to merge their G+Local page into the fully social G+ Page for local, while very limited, has surfaced very few bugs. The rollout which occurred on August 3rd has been smooth by Google standards for local but any time a company strives to “release early and often” there will be some.
Here is the list of known bugs, assembled with the help of the top contributors in the forum, to be on the watch out for. Most of these are non threatening but given the limited targeting of this rollout I strongly suggest that you be sure that your business is a good fit for merge. You should be a single location b & m business with both a G+ page and a Places/+Local Page, not be a service area business with hidden address and most importantly be sure that there are no duplicates or other issues with your existing listing. (more…)
The ability to upload videos to your G+ Local listing via the Places Dashboard has long been broken and the feature was missing on the merged G+ Pages for Local. I am not quite sure when this happened but you now can upload videos if you have a (re)verified G+Page for Local. As reader Julie Larson from Divas Mobile Solutions pointed out to me, the feature is isolated to G+ and doesn’t allow for easily integrating YouTube channels into to your profile but with drag and drop it does allow for bulk video uploads. And more importantly the feature seems to just work.
Google has announced that they are testing the rollout of vanity URLs for Google Plus:
Custom URLs for profiles and pages: a first stepYour Google+ profile is a place for you to share your passions with the millions of people who come to Google each day. Whether you’re a clothing brand showing off your latest fashions (google.com/+hugoboss), an athlete talking about the game (google.com/+davidbeckham), or an actor recalling a favorite role (google.com/+hughjackman), your Google+ profile helps you connect with the people who share your interests. Today we’re introducing custom URLs to make it even easier for people to find your profile on Google+.
The recent rollout of the ability to merge a G+ Business page and a G+ Local page was a significant sign post on Google’s way to integrating local into social. To Google’s credit the product and process were simple and elegant. The design was more than a notch above previous efforts in local and it just worked when you went through the process. That being said it only satisfied a very narrow use case of business listing types.
Was the rollout a signal that your business or clients should make the merge now or was its limited function a tell that you should wait?
Obviously as Google moves towards social local search it is clear that there will be moment when, for most local businesses, it will make sense to commit to fully Google Plus in one way or another.
It is important though to understand this latest move in the context of Google’s longer term plan for integrating listings into the Plus environment and know some of the pitfalls before deciding whether to go ahead with the re-verification process now or to wait.
Local and Plus both have a lot of moving parts. Google’s tactic of “develop early and iterate often” means that we will be living with a more half baked product than usual as these parts are ripped out and rebuilt. The pieces to the pie are becoming visible very slowly and a great deal of functionality is still missing.
Google has just announced that the process for integrating your Google+ Local page (aka your Place Page) with the social Google+ Business Page is now live:
Verification available for local pages created in Google+
For those of you that have created local Google+ pages (with social features) — good news! Today, you can become the verified business owner for that local Google+ page.
In essence, this will combine the page you created in Google+ with the page in Google+ Local (formerly Places listing). Your business’ presence across Google Search, Google Maps, and Google+ will be unified. You’ll be able to manage this page from Google+ Pages admin. Check out the Meatball Shop for an example of a combined page, with both social features and reviews.
If you’re ready, just click on Verify now on the right side of the page. You’ll need to verify that you’re representing your business by having a postcard sent, even if you’re a verified business owner on Google Places for Business. Also note that verification will only work for pages created in the “Local Business or Place” category in Google+.
The new upgraded pages aren’t yet available for those that just have local Google+ pages with reviews. We’re working on getting the upgraded experience to all business owners. If you’re curious, go ahead and create a Google+ page in the local category.
Got questions? Reply here — I’ll update this post with answers.
This process WILL require reverification of your listing and as Jade points out it is not yet available to businesses that do not yet have a Google+ Business page. The ability to upgrade a standalone Google+ Local page is still a ways off.