Category Archives: Google+ Local

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

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!!).