Category Archives: Google+ Local

Having Issues with Your G+Local Social Merge? My Advice: Don’t

Googler Jade has posted a tip at the Google for Business forums with resources for solving the issues that might crop up if you are doing a merge (hat tip to Linda Buquet for highlighting this). My recommendation: DO NOT MERGE YET. Wait for Google to fully flesh our their product line and feature sets so you can make an informed decision.

Here is Jade’s post:

Issues with merging the local business/place page in Google+ and the local Google+ page (with reviews)?

Wondering whether you should attempt the merge/verification? Read this post first. More information and FAQ on the original announcement post.

  • Help! My social local Google+ page (that I made in the local business/place category) has been verified but doesn’t seem to have merged with the correct reviews.
    • Submit these pages to be merged as duplicates here, selecting, “There is a duplicate listing that I would like to have removed.”
  • The social local Google+ page I made is stuck in verification and still says “In progress” after over a week.
    • A handful of pages appear seem to be stuck in verification, and we’re working on getting them out. Sit tight!
  • The PIN I received isn’t working.
    • Make sure your business location is findable on Google Maps. Go into http://maps.google.com and type in the exact text you have as your address on the page. Make sure Maps can find your location without needing to go through any “Did you mean…?” links.
    • Make sure no information on the page is set to “Private.”
    • Don’t change any info on your page in between requesting the PIN and entering the PIN.
    • Request a new PIN if possible.
    • If you can’t request a new PIN, contact support via the Google+ verification troubleshooter.

Ah… the Irony Of Google Local – International number handling issue is solved, no it isn’t

There has been a persistent bug in G+ Local’s (mis)handling of international phone numbers that Barry pointed out in his blog today. This problem has been on-going for a number of months and Google is aware of the issue.

However I found the irony of these two posts showing together in my G+ stream too rich to not note. As I pointed out in another post that in Google Local:

Google’s policy of release early and iterate often and innovate often, leads to more than its fair share of bugs particularly when they forget the iterate often part.

Google+ Page 500 Error Bug & Work Around

There has a been a persistent, infrequent bug in the management of merged Google+ Pages for local where the owner of the page is unable to access the management of the page and receives a 500 Error from Google. Google knows about the bug but has been unable to quash it as of yet.

Kaleh, a Top Contributor in the Google for Business forum with lots of experience on the Plus side of the house had this to suggest.

Another option to try (based upon a report in a Google+ Discuss Forum topic) is accessing the following modified version of the URL:


The other user’s situation is very different from yours, but I find it interesting that he can perform most management tasks when he has the /b/ in the URL, but can’t even see the page through the page management interface.

If you have experienced this bug let me know whether this work around solves the problem.

Google Adds Mirror Dice to G+ Local Pages

Google has added a new feature (props to Matt Gregory for pointing this out) to the Google+ Local pages that allows a user to add custom fields to any given business listing. You can add things like the name of the person you deal with at the business, their birthday and unique contact information. The final output, a private, personalize contact card, is similar to the details from Google contacts that shows on a G+ personal profile of someone in your circles.

Perhaps I have a lack of imagination but this is one of those features for which it is hard to see its regular use. It could conceivably be part of a CRM system, it probably integrates with GMail and perhaps is a way for Google to draw relationships between the social graph and the business graph. But one has to ask why?

Did you ever ride in a car that had chrome pipes & fancy spinner hub caps but you always felt lucky when you arrived at your destination? And then the owner, for the next upgrade, added mirror dice rather than fixing something substantial? Well that’s what seems to have happened to your Google+ Local page.

Google+ Local pages have plenty wrong with them, significant and substantial problems. This is true whether with you are working the +Local page  via the old and decrepit dashboard or attempting to manage it via Plus… but now Google has added an ability that you are unlikely to use. Go figure.

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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.