Category Archives: Google+ Local

Google Email Inviting Businesses to Update Their Listing in a Newly Converted Dashboard

Last week Google announced that they were starting the process of converting existing, old style dashboards to the new Google Places for Business Dashboard. I just received this email notice that one of my favorite “business” listings had received the dashboard update: Illusory Laptop Repair.

When you log into the new dashboard the user is presented with a nicely designed visual encouraging them to add missing details to the listing.

Here is a copy of the email that is being sent:
Continue reading

Google + Local Updates

Google has announced in the forum that they have fixed one of the previously noted issues with the new Google Places for Business Dashboard; the speed of photo uploads. In the old Dashboard it might have taken a month or more for photos to show. When the upgraded Dashboard was released last month, it took several weeks. Now apparently, photos uploaded via the new dashboard should appear in several hours. Here is the update from the forum post:

If you’re using the new dashboard, your photo uploading experience is now improved. Photos uploaded via the new Place for Business dashboard will now go live in hours in most cases. You can send us feedback about this and other features by clicking on the gear on the right -> Send Feedback. Thanks!

Screen Shot 2013-05-30 at 2.26.46 PM
In other news, Josh Volk of LocalSeoUpdate.com notes that Google has implemented the one and only one claimant rule on listings via the new dashboard. If a listing has been previously claimed, it is not possible to reclaim the listing into a new account without Google intervention. If you are unable to contact the previous claimant to remove the listing from their account and if the listing has not been edited over the past year, Google support will immediately approve the new claiming request. If however the listing has been edited within the last year then Google support “will call the business owner to truly verify everything … and can then remove the claim from the other account”.

And last but not least, Google has also updated their Data Highlighter and Structured Data tool. This tool allows you to add “rich snippets” without adding any code to your site.

1. Data Highlighter now supports a whole bunch of new schemas: Products, local businesses, articles, software applications, movies, restaurants, and TV episodes.

2. Structured Data Markup Helper Tool: this is a very easy way to get code samples for structured data markup using your own content. Using a process similar to Data Highlighter, you highlight your content and it then generates example HTML you can download and use as a starting point to mark up your content.

Is Google Local Changing the Metaphor For Local Ranking?

For as long as Google has displayed local results they have done so with a modified Yellow Page listing approach albeit one that ranked by prominence rather than distance or alphabetically.

With the rollout of the new Google Maps preview, the loss of the Places search link & Places search from the main page of Google and the recent tests of the carousel for local hotel results, one has to ask if Google is moving away from rank ordering in an A-G list so prevalent over the past 8 years of local to a flatter, more review centric view of local listings.

The new Map view of businesses is striking in its attempt to force the user to pick a particular business based on its overal relevance and prominence within a given geography. The geography is the metaphor not a list. The list view along the left side of the display, once as equally as prominent as the Map, is now relegated to being located at least one click further away. It is not very visible once a user starts clicking on pins and is unlikely to be clicked very often. Admittedly Google is still ranking the results as they are showing 12 accommodation icons and 8 business names in the results to the exclusion of all other listings but Google is no longer readily indicating that they think one business listing is superior to any other within the display.

new-maps

Equally intriguing is Google’s testing of the carousel display for local hotel results (courtesy of Lisa Kolb of Acorn Internet Services). This display “flattens” the local results and puts nearly equal emphasis on each of the top 7 results. The return of organic results so prominently on the page are also fascintating. Results 4, 5, 7, 8, 9 and 10 are the organic pages for the B&Bs showing at the top of the page giving each property two shots at the searcher. I have no idea how click through rates are influenced by position in carousel results or how users react to the  pages being repeated in the organic results below. However the images at the top are very eye grabbing and unlike a list display typical of the 7 -Pack, it seems to me that a click on the middle or to the right is as likely as a click on the first result.

(click to view full page)

places-gone-3-crop

As Lisa Kolb pointed out in her article, the Zagat rating in this display (and one presumes a big, fat red star when Google makes that switchover away from Zagat) will be a primary attractant to the user.

places-gone-4

 

This change is very consistent with Google’s new card focused design aesthetic that we are seeing in Plus, Glass and Now as well as the new Maps. Can it be long before that new design change and a non list view of rank hits the front page of Google?

Why You Should Have a Professional Proofreader for Your Bulk Emails

Language is an interesting thing. Sometimes it can be used in terribly inappropriate ways. Like in this email from the US Chamber of Commerce where he suggests “we remember those that have given to the cause ” of supporting “the most… opportunistic country in the world”. The email went from tribute to travesty in one word.

U.S. Chamber Small Business Nation
Dear Mike ,

As we celebrate the long weekend and unofficial start of the summer season, we also want to take a moment to commemorate our nation’s veterans, past and present.

Did you know that Memorial Day is the only holiday that begins with the flag at half-staff in honor of the fallen and then raises it to full-mast at noon to inspire and pay tribute to those that serve on in their stead?

We’re lucky to live in the most free and opportunistic country in the world. Today we remember those who have given to that cause.

We hope you’ll take a minute to share our post on Facebook.

Share your thanks for those who fought to keep us free

Have a safe and happy memorial day,


Rob Engstrom
SVP and National Political Director
U.S. Chamber of Commerce

 

U.S. Chamber of Commerce 1615 H Street, NW Washington DC 20062-2000

Web Bug from http://click.uschambersmallbusinessnation.com/db/1472817/129529039/1.gif

Here is Google’s (and generally accepted) definition of the word:

op·por·tun·is·tic

/?äp?rt(y)o?o?nistik/

Adjective
  1. Exploiting chances offered by immediate circumstances without reference to moral principle.

Google Starting to Convert Existing Dashboards to the New Places for Business Dashboard

Google just announced in the forums that they were starting the process of converting existing Dashboard users to the new Placed for Business Dashboard. Here is the post:

As of May 21, some existing Places users will begin to see the new Google Places for Business dashboard. The transition will happen automatically, and all existing users should continue to manage listings at http://places.google.com. Please keep in mind that the new dashboard is still gradually being rolled out, so not all existing users will see the change right now.

What happened to the custom categories I had using the old dashboard?

Custom categories are no longer showing on listings with the new dashboard. Business owners should try to select an auto-filled category that most closely describes their business. We’re working on improving the way categories work, and by sticking with the categories we have defined, we believe we can better connect customers and businesses.

What happened to payment options, additional details, or videos?

These fields do not appear publicly, and the data will not be transferred onto the new dashboard. The “videos” field no longer appears in the dashboard. You can access prior uploaded videos through your Youtube account. If you wish to post videos on the listing for your business, upgrade to a local Google+ page.

I’m using Google+ to manage the local page for my business; what should I do?

Please continue using Google+ for management, as you had before. If you were using both Google+ and Google Places for business, you should continue doing so. When we are ready to migrate the pages that have social features, we will have further instructions.

I’m using Google Places but don’t see the new dashboard, yet. Should I panic?

Don’t panic. The new dashboard is still rolling out gradually, and we’ll continue to post updates here. Please continue to use Google Places for Business as usual.

Google Local Adds New Troubleshooter to Move Reviews When a Business Relocates

house-moving-3Google has announced in the forums their ability and willingness to now move reviews when a business has moved locations and to remove reviews with significant brand changes for a given location. The request by the business to do so is done via a new troubleshooter.

The guidelines that will apply to requests to move reviews can be summarized as follows: same business at a new location, reviews will be moved; New business at the same location reviews will be removed.

This new (and welcome) capability in no way affects the policy or procedure around removing inappropriate individual reviews –  flagging the review as inappropriate via the G+ Plage and if dissatisfied with the lack of response then filing a troubleshooter report.

Here are the specifics of the guidelines:

Change of ownership

If you are the new owner or manager of an existing business that hasn’t changed it’s name, reviews will not be removed. You can use owner responses to respond to previous reviews and clarify any changes/improvements to the services your business is providing.

Change in name

If you are the new owner or manager of an existing business that has changed its name, reviews may be removed if your business meets specific criteria.

  • Rebrand: Reviews can be removed from the listing if there’s been a significant change in well known, distinct brand name changes. Hotels or fast food establishment that switch franchise affiliations or car dealers that specialize in a different makes of cars would qualify for review removal.
  • Name changes related to change in underlying services: For instance, a business that switches from Jade’s Chinese Garden Restaurant to India Palace Restaurant, or Al’s Sporting Goods Store to Performance Bike Repair, would qualify for review removal
  • Partners or other business affiliations that disassociate: For example, if Perkins and Rogers, Attorneys at Law becomes Perkins, Attorney at Law because Rogers has left the practice to form his own, all reviews would be detached. Note that all reviews would be removed, not just the ones that refer to a particular practitioner

Name changes that don’t reflect core changes to the business’s services aren’t eligible for review removal. For example, if Dasha’s Dry Cleaner becomes Dasha’s Super Dry Cleaner, or JFK Limo Service becomes Super JFK Limo, reviews will remain in place.

Out of business

If your business closes, reviews will remain attached to the closed listing.

Physical location (address) move

If your business moves from one location to another and keeps the same business name, Google will generally move the reviews to the new location. There are some exceptions for businesses heavily tied to their locations, like hotels, golf courses or scenic attractions.

Submit a request for us to move reviews using this form. Currently this is only available for users of the new Google Places for Business dashboard, but we expect to expand its availability soon. I will update this post when it is available more widely.

 

How Many Reviews Are Needed to Show Stars in the New Map List View?

Peter Troast of EnergyCircle.com asked a great question in the comments to my post about the new visuals for the (now named) Maps List View -aka Places Search- result:

Also seems like the # of reviews threshold is shifting for display. For zero reviews, “Be the first to review” appears right under company name. From 1-__, it looks as if nothing appears at all (in contrast to the old “3 Google Reviews.” I’ve seen a couple 5 review listings that displayed the new stars (yeah!), and several 8′s and 9′s, so it appears the 10 review threshold is coming down. Anyone figured out what the new threshold is? Certainly seems like nowheresville for 1-4.

The answer is 5. It takes 5 reviews for Google to show the stars. On these searches for restaurants surfaces results with a range of lower review totals. Obviously we do not yet know how or when they will update the main search results display to stars and whether this will apply.

how-may-reviews-to-show-stars

Some Tidbits from Google’s Rollouts Yesterday

The weird stuff from yesterday has come into clearer focus. New Maps, Back to the Future on Review Rating Stars (although red this time), New G+ (argh)….but here are some tidbits that might make all of the once and future changes a tad more understandable:

  • The new Google Maps is currently available by invite only. You must go here and request an invitation as it is still considered a preview.
  • However there is some leakage in the preview. To see the new Maps list view of local search results add the search parameter “&tbm=plcs” to a local search result. Even though the URL parameter indicates that this is the Places page (whose link was removed last week from the main search page), it currently is only visible to the public via the new Google Maps to those that have access to the preview.
  • Whether this view will ever be visible via the main search results is unknown. Certainly retaining the old url parameter makes it confusing. But it appears so far that local isn’t so much being rebranded as being absorbed into Maps and Plus. Still no real clear name for it. I guess that entitles us to make it up. Nominations are open.
  • Google is abandoning the Zagat rating system. I guess they are planning on selling it to Yahoo. Regardless, in another visible leak of the coming upgrade, you can see the new rating system on your Place Page G+ Local Page uh your (local and perhaps social) G+ Page by adding this search parameter “&rfmt=s” to the G+ Page URL.
  • In the current iteration of the G+ Page for Local with the new review notation, it appears that there is a bug that prevents owner comments from displaying. (Hat tip to Dave…welcome back btw)
  • If you are like me, and find the new, improved G+ layout to be way too distracting and hard to follow you can change it most of the way back by using this tip from David Fuchs:

Go to your home page
– Click “More” on top
– Scroll all the way to the bottom
– two icons choose the left one.

To fix the profile page

-Settings

Accessibility
[x] Change the presentation of some pages to work better with screen readers and other accessibility tools.

Access Your Local G+ Page with the New 5 Star Treatment

The new local result list display that was discovered today makes more sense when viewed in context of the newly updated Maps. Select the “Go to list of top results” link from the refinement pane and you will arrive at the new page. For those of you that don’t have access to the new Maps view yet, you can get to this list view by adding the parameter “&tbm=plcs” to a local search result URL as in this search for Jewelry Design Buffalo NY

Once there you can click on the Google Reviews link for any listing to see how the newly formatted G+ Page for local will look with the new red 5 star motif. Adding the parameter “&rfmt=s” to the +Page URL: https://plus.google.com/103156080483607740278/about?hl=en&rfmt=s will take you directly to the G+ page showing the new review stars.

Note the bold use of red number in summary at the top of the review sections that is significantly more obvious that the stars and immediately draws the eye down the page. I am sure that no one will miss the arbitrary 29 that was often given to those with averages of 30. Click the image to view it at full resolution. Or better just go there yourself. :)

red-star-plus-page