Category Archives: Google+ Local

New Google Places for Business Dashboard Upgraded to Handle 100 Entries

Now-supports-100Last Thursday at the Advanced Local U, Dan Pritchett, the engineer heading up the Places for Business Dashboard effort and Joel Headley, joined us for the day long discussions.

During the day, the arbitrary limits to the maximum number of listings (25) in the dashboard were discussed and bemoaned by the folks at the seminar. For service area businesses with more than 25 locations, it meant there would thus be a need for multiple dashboards. Not a great solution. Dan heard and he acted.

I have just been informed that based on the feedback received Dan lifted the 25 listing limit to 100 in the new Places interface. Kudos to Google for listening and responding!

Is Google Debranding Local?

Screen Shot 2013-06-16 at 10.26.40 AMLocal, like many developments at Google, has always been many things; a brand (G+Local, Places), a product (Places Search, the +Local App) and an internal & external API service (local data in Now, Earth or 3rd party products).

And as David Mihm has pointed out, Google’s branding of local has always been muddled and caused confusion in the market place. But now it would appear that the confusion will someday end and that both the local brand and the forward facing search product (Places Search) are falling by the wayside.

Local will persist as a service feeding critical contextually relevant data to the many current Google products that use local data and the many that are likely to be coming rapidly down the pipeline.

Local as brand & product – a History

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Google Local Carousel Display Showing More Frequently, In More Categories

google local corusel display

Image courtesy of Greg Gifford.

Greg Giford of Autorevo and Dr. Pete Meyers of Moz are both reporting increased visibility of the Local Carousel display that highlights local businesses at the top of the SERPS in a highly photographic style rather than the embedded 7-Pack Local Universal display of a list of pins.

Interestingly, for the first time, these are showing in categories outside of just restaurants and hotels. Greg reported the carousel as showing in a range of recreational, leisure and entertainment categories like golf, bowling alleys, movie theaters, night life, ballrooms and art galleries. (For the complete list of searches that Greg saw these results be sure to read his post.) No reports yet of retail or service area business listings in this new format.

Whether these are still in test mode or actually slowly rolling out is not clear as there have been sporadic sightings elsewhere around the country. It would seem that regardless they are getting closer to being fully baked.

First spotted in the wild by Dr. Pete in early May and analyzed in depth by Lisa Kolb these carousel results along with the Maps display seem to point to a shift in the ranking metaphor that Google has so long used in the display of local results. Highly visual in design, with a bold black border accentuating the color photographs, Google is almost saying “these are the most relevant results but are of equal value for your consideration”.

Much like social annotations and the pins, it appears that these types of results will “disrupt” traditional searcher behaviors that heavily favored the first search results by spreading clicks more evenly across the page. With a horizontal display it might be equally advantageous to be 3rd as it is to be first in order.

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credit Dr. Pete Meyers, Moz

New Places for Business Dashboard Has 25 Listing Limit

As the new Google Places for Business Dashboard is being adopted more widely, we are starting to gain insights into its strengths and limits. One of its great strengths (besides a much enhanced interface) is the speed at which data typically makes it to the public listing making the use of MapMaker no longer as critical in the listing management process.

Apparently though there currently is a somewhat surprising hard limit that imposes a maximum of 25 listings in the new dashboard. The Google Help documentation notes a limit of 100 but that obviously applies to the old Dashboard and not the new one.

Brian Rutledge of Get Page One, LLC received this message while managing a large SAB with a number of locations.

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Google introduced the new Places for Business dashboard on April 2nd. Initially the product was only available to newly claimed listing. Google started the process of converting existing dashboard users to the new dashboard late last month, beggining with the simplest dashboard use cases first. Those with lots of listings, AdWords Express ads in play or listings claimed into multiple accounts have not yet started the conversion process.

This new found limit at a fairly low number effectively forces more businesses into the bulk upload process which, while a good solution for many, does not offer the speedy data updates of the dashboard, easy access to the simplified marketing products or any obvious path to a social presence.

Hopefully a more graceful integration of the two disparate products can be achieved. It would be ideal if the dashboard could handle more listings or perhaps there was a migration path from the single listing dashboard to the bulk upload process for growing businesses.

While the Dashboard has never been intended for managing a great number of business listings or as an agency level product it is unfortunate that businesses. particularly in the 25-50 location range have so few good choices currently for listing management if they want a partial social presence or limited use of Google’s marketing products. They could migrate over to the G+ management interface but that appears to me to be a much less efficient listing management environment than either the dashboard or the bulk upload.

Regardless there is nothing more frustrating than a forced do over when an agency or SMB runs up against an undocumented limit of a product and has no elegant way to make the switch.

Update: Apparently Google will NOT approve these listings under the bulk upload program and the business is forced into using multiple dashboards. Although why that is, is unclear:

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Google Adds “Are you the Business Owner?” Link to the Brand Knowledge Panel

Googler Jade W posted in the Google for Business forums that they have now added a link to the branded Knowledge panel result for local businesses that allows business owners to claim their listing directly from the main search result page. The link only shows on a direct branded search not on a category search. Here is here post:

Managing your business’s presence on Google is now easier and more accessible. Now, when you search for your business on Google, under right-hand-side panel, there’s a link that says Are you the business owner? Clicking on this will direct you to become the verified owner of this business on Google Places for Business, or to manage the page for your business if you’ve already done so.

It’s easier than ever for business owner to begin the verification process, right from searching for your business on Google.

At some level it is a very small change. It does however point out two things. 1) Google is ready to accept new listing claims into the recently updated Places for Business Dashboard and 2)that Google has the power to ramp up SMB engagement at any moment by adding a link to their home page.

Google’s home page gets significantly more traffic than Maps or Places or G+ local ever has or will. The fact that Google has added this link to the front page should send a clear signal to the market that Google can easily increase the numbers of SMBS claiming their business listing and engaging with Google’s  free and paid products. Are they finally starting to do just that?

 

fern adelstein olean ny   Google Search

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:
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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!

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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)

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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.

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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.