Category Archives: Google+ Local

Google+ Business and Local Merge Process is NOW LIVE

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+

Hey guys,

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.

Thanks,
Jade

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.

Google+ Local – What Wasn’t in the Announcement Was More Important Than What Was

Last week’s announcement of Google+ Local was underwhelming. The review upgrade was impressive but the rest was tepid at best. Essentially the URL for your Place page has changed and the page now shows in the index although the “upgrade” seems to have broken more than it fixed. The announcement last week of Google+ Local was more important for what was left out than what was in it.

We know that Google has been gradually diassembling the Dashboard (pulling out AdWords Express and revamping Offer Coupons) and that its functionality has not been updated in eons (think analytics that only report out pack results NOT blended).

The current move of the business listing from Places to Google+ Local essentially broke the ability of the Dashboard to view the listing and the listings no longer indicates that the business has claimed them or that it is verified.

We also know for sure that the Google +Local page will merge into the G+ Business page in the near future. Clearly Google is focusing its energies on integrating as much as possible into the social backbone of G+.

Over the past year Google bought Zagat but they also bought local online services Punchd (a digital loyalty program) and Talkbin (an SMS based) CRM program. Both programs that have a strong potential appeal in the local market. In the recent rollout we see a glimmering of using the business listing as a local transaction engine with the inclusion of OpenTable.

When you add all of that up you come to the inescapable conclusion that the backend Dashboard is undergoing a massive rework and will likely become a central point for the SMB to interact with all of Google’s products with a special emphasis on Google Plus.

David Mihm has written about a vision of what the Dashboard could and should become. Bing has implemented a blueprint for an integrated marketing portal that might also provide a guide to Google. Whatever it is it will need to be more engaging, more valuable and more integral to local businesses ongoing marketing needs: better analytics, simple integration with G+, CRM, easy opt-in to Google’s paid products, the ability for the business to easily understand and interact with a full range of Google’s local offerings and the ability for Google to plug in more functionality down the road.

Today the Wall Street Journal today essentially confirmed this direction. They note that by early July Google will be rolling out such a product:

The project combines several products and services aimed at small businesses under a single banner. It is based on a mix of internally developed software and recently acquired technologies that the company hopes eventually will bring in billions of dollars a year in new revenue.

Central to the effort is Google+, the company’s social network, which it hopes consumers will use to interact with local businesses that now have special Web pages on the network. Those Google+ pages will draw traffic from the company’s Web-search engine. When shoppers visit these businesses, Google wants them to use their Internet-connected phones like a digital wallet, earning loyalty points and making payments at stores that sign up for Google’s new services.

When this occurs the real Google+ Local will be rolling out, not just a new location for a landing page, but a substantial improvement to the static and marginally functional Dashboard. Let’s hope that it is an integrated marketing solution that is elegant, provides significant on-going value and works properly right out of the gate (oh and is multiuser).

Google Testing Plus Integration with Places via Authorship

Since Google announced in July that there would be Google Plus business pages there has been speculation that Google would integrate Plus and Places. We saw some early Plus Plus Places (a mouthful..) integration in November but now Google appears to be testing P+P (or is it ++P) integration using the rel=author tag as the glue between the two.

Over the weekend I found these author images in blended Places search results for the phrases DUI Lawyers Phoenix and Criminal Defense lawyer Orlando. They appeared and disappeared so I assume that they are tests and not the final implementation.

Interestingly the blended result with a rel-auth photo doesn’t show a link to the business’s Place page . More importantly it does not show your Google reviews and star ratings. For now anyways, the image appearing in the blended results adds a unique attribute to the listing that makes the listing stand out but the missing star ratings is problematic. Who knows what the final implementation will look like.

If you are logged in and hover over the “by author” link you are presented an option to add the author to your circle. If you click on it you are taken to their Plus Page.

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Branded Local Search Results: Google Vs. Bing

With the rollout of Google Search Plus Your World, there has been a great deal of discussion about whether Google’s actions are a basis for antitrust. I tend to agree with internet lawyer Eric Goldman’s assessment:

From a legal standpoint, I don’t think Search Plus Your World adds very much to the antitrust complaints against Google (and some of the complaints, especially Twitter’s, seem more like sour grapes than bona fide concerns). It’s just another example where Google is cross-promoting its services, which is not inherently wrong and often can improve the consumer experience. However, if Google can’t prove to us that each of its specific choices to integrate Google+ are in our best interests given the widespread speculation that they weren’t, Google creates a major wedge in the trust relationship with users–and invites judges and regulators to impute bad motives to Google if they want.

The issues revolve more around user trust than antitrust. The full impact of the change has yet to be felt in Local BUT a number of other recent efforts by Google to cross promote their own properties have started to impact local results.

Here is a branded local search for Barbara Oliver Buffalo. Google has made sure that Barbara Oliver & Co Jewelry’s local brand and website are readily accessible from search. She certainly seems to be benefiting from Google’s brand focus.

However, her site, like many SMB sites, uses an embedded Google MyMap on the directions page and and offers an embedded YouTube video. She also has a very lightly used Plus Page. That hardly seems to warrant the high ranking that each of those pages have received. There are seven links to Google properties above the fold that lead to Maps, Places, YouTube, Plus and MyMaps. Clearly Google is also cross promoting their other properties but one certainly has to question whether the searcher is best served by these results.

I have captured a Bing search result for comparison purposes so that you can decide which engine returns the most relevant results for the branded search. Let me know which one you think offers more relevant results.

(click to see larger)

To see the Bing screen shot of the branded search for Barbara Oliver Buffalo….
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Google+ To Have Business Profile Pages

Jeff Huber, Google VP of Local and Commerce, has indicated that Google+, at some point in the near future will include the option for business profile page. Here is his comment:

And pre-emptively answering a question — yes, we will have (smb) business profile pages on Google+. I can’t announce a launch date yet, but we want to make them *great*, and we’re coding as fast as we can.

He has additionally indicated that he will be using Google+ as his primary voice (not Twitter) and that, if we let him know, he will make invites available for the Google+ field trial to anyone that needs one.

I am not sure what I think about the idea of having a second SMB profile in addition to an already claimed Places page (it is early, I am on vacation and typing on a bad cell signal on my iPhone but wanted to get this out).

Obviously a large number of small businesses have yet to figure out Places and the idea of a second “Places” is somewhat daunting unless it is well integrated into the existing processes. In the end, I suppose that it comes down to the benefits that an SMB would derive as to whether it will be worth it. It is certainly an interesting idea.

If nothing else, Jeff putting up with my tweaks and providing this information, demonstrates the possibility of a coming transparency from the folks at Google Local (hooray!!).