Category Archives: Google+ Local

Google+ Local Reviews Now Showing Descriptive and Not Numerical Scores

Update: Google not only changed the output of the review content but they changed the interface at the time of review creation to have users select from the descriptive phrases as well. See photo below.

Last week at Getlisted Local U Advanced in NYC, Googler Joel Headley noted that “descriptive terms (poor, good, very good excellent) are going to be integrated into Zagat review interface more going forward”.

Reader Kerry Fager just pointed out to me  that they are now doing just that on the overall annotation on each review on the G+ Local page.

Will the descriptive terms make it to the front page? Certainly the descriptors are more meaningful and if we take Joel’s comment at face value, then we might see this elsewhere.

Why the change? One assumes that “it improves the search experience”. It makes the otherwise obtuse Zagat numbering system into something understandable by mere mortals. :)?

Note: As noted in the comments, there appears to be a concurrent problem with displaying owner comments on the reviews. Most, perhaps all owner comments, are missing in action. Search teams are being dispatched.

Update (10/12/2012 9:00AM): Reports of missing owner responses came in via Twitter within minutes of the release of the product on 10/10. These reports were funneled to Google who fixed this bug by mid afternoon yesterday (10/11/12).

When more granular detail is available (ie Quality, appeal & service or Food, service, decor) Google is now breaking those out individually as well:
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“We do not support this location” Update

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:

We currently do not support this location

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.

Hey guys,

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.

Thanks,

Jade

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:

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How to Get Review Cred in G+ Local as a Top Reviewer- As a Business Page

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.

Google Local Weekend Update

Here is Google’s recent update for G+ Local and several other updates from around the web:

Here are Google’s minute markers with my comments in italics:

0:01 Introduction

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:

Google + Local editing message

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. 

2:14 Forum tip: better mobile forum display, yay!

 

Some other updates that have occurred in local while I was traveling:

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Whither AdWords Express?

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.

Google+ Pages For Local – Known Bugs & Quirks After the G+ Local Merge

Vietnamese Giant Water Bug

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.
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Google Plus Now Allows Videos on Merged G+ Pages for Local

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.

The interface is simple, the uploads moved along quickly and I was able to upload both WMV and FLV files simultaneously. The uploads can be easily shared on G+ as well. You can see the results on Barbara Oliver & Co. Jewelry’s merged G+ Page.

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Google+ Rolling Out Vanity URLs

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+.

A custom URL is a short, easy to remember web address that links directly to your profile or page on Google+. For instance, +TOYOTA  can now use google.com/+toyota to unveil their latest models, +Britney Spears  can share her upcoming appearances atgoogle.com/+britneyspears, +Ubisoft  can share game trailers and videos at google.com/+assassinscreed, and +Delta  can help travellers find great deals at google.com/+delta.

Custom URLs will also be available to people and pages worldwide, so brands like Globo can point readers to google.com/+epoca, or any of their other Brazilian publications.

At first, we’re introducing custom URLs to a limited number of verified profiles and pages. But over time we plan to offer custom URLs to many more brands and individuals, so please stay tuned!

Google+ Business Pages: To Merge Or Not to Merge, That is the Question

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.

We know that a new dashboard with increased functionality is likely on its way and hopefully better social management tools as well. In the meantime, since we are only seeing a corner of the whole picture, it is conceivable to me that a wrong step now might require a business to back up and execute a complete redo down the road if you commit too early.

What the upgrade is and isn’t: Continue reading