Category Archives: Google+ Local

Last Links from Google Maps to G+ Local Plus Pages Removed

Google has recently removed links from the Local Knowledge Panel in search to the Google Plus Local Page. Nicolai Helling now reports that the last links standing in Google Maps, to read and or write reviews on the G+ Page for Local, have now been redirected as well.

The read reviews link now redirects to the Review Box that has been presented on the front page of search and the write a review link redirects to the write a review box in the same area.

review-links

When viewed with the rumors of a restructured G+ and the removal of links from the Knowledge Panel to new posts, it certainly raises questions about Google’s direction with G+ as a small business marketing platform.

As Nicolai points out it also puts the final nail in the coffin of using Maps for listing diagnostics and finding duplicates. My goto resource on that has been Michael Cottam’s G+ Business Page Finder reviewed here with some tips.

The other minor tactical factoid is that the link in Maps to write a review includes the full name, address, zip and country as well as both the CID and the FID for the listing. The 7,2 attached to the end of the URL string opens the review edit box and could be used in a review email campaign (although it doesn’t work on the iPhone or iPad).
https://www.google.com/search?q=Barbara+Oliver+%26+Co+Jewelry,+Caldwell+Building,+5820+Main+St+%23311,+Williamsville,+NY+14221,+United+States&ludocid=3291747407840809159&lrd=0x89d37487dfb1ea75:0x2daea2d3b6aa10c7,2

Using A Twitter Stream to Reinforce Mobile Local Branding on Google

Recently Google+ posts stopped showing up in the knowledge panel and Twitter content started showing up in real time in Google mobile searches.

The only value to an SMB of using Plus and the only reason I recommended it was that it put messaging and an image on the front page of Google search. That post conveyed a positive brand message AND pushed “people also search for” competitors below the fold on many displays. It was a once a month, easy to implement tactic where an SMB could simply cross post content from Facebook.

It would seem that Twitter content can now provide a similar and perhaps even better alternative for local businesses to push their marketing message into Branded search results on Google mobile search results. It seems like it would be a simple matter to cross post from Facebook as way to achieve some additional, controlled exposure on  a Google branded search.

Minimally it makes great sense as a way to control front page content on Google for reputation management.

I have never recommended Twitter for local before. This might be enough reason.

Your thoughts?

consolidated-image-twitter-mihm-500

Google+ Knowledge Panel Messaging Gone

Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 1.11.37 PMOne compelling reason for an SMB to use Google Plus was the fact that their most recent G+ posts and photo would appear on the Knowledge Panel for branded search results. First noticed disappearing by Mary Bowling about a month ago, it is now gone for good.

Google confirmed its passage by saying: “We’re always mixing things up on Search, and this change is no different. We’ve found that most people care about seeing hours of operation, directions, and photos when they search for businesses, so we’re making that information the most visible. You can still find all this info in Google+ of course.”

Here is a previous knowledge panel showing a G+ post and image and a current view showing its absence: Continue reading Google+ Knowledge Panel Messaging Gone

Google Releases New Support Forum Platform

The Google My Business Forums and most other Google product forums as well are in the process of being upgraded to a totally new forum software. Like with every Forum upgrade that Google does, its one step forward and 2 (hopefully) back. Here is the Google My Business Forum announcement and they note:

Our new design is focused on making it easier for you to find the answers you need and ask questions in Google Product Forums.

There are two main types of pages:

Topic pages that focus on the content you need to see: the question, any best answers, and all replies.

Lists of topics that you can browse, filter, and search to find the information you need.

They are promising rapid iteration to add missing features but promise that this new forum will be faster and less filling.

Pinned topics will be significantly more visible as they reside at the top level of the forum (a good thing):

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 4.32.02 PM

And new posts will from across the forum will also be highlighted at the top level with the ability to segment them if needed. They will also show whether other top contributors have already replied minimizing the work of finding posts needing answers:

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 4.31.51 PM

 

The biggest shortcoming for frequent posters will be the missing saved answers that can dramatically improve top contributor efforts. Apparently users will be able to return to the previous format until Google is confident that the major bugs are quashed.

The new format is only available for desktop and tablets with a mobile version TBA. In the meantime mobile users will be stuck with the current, can’t replace it soon enough version.

Your thoughts?

Google Continues Debranding Local – Google Maps App Becoming Local’s Forward Facing Brand

In 2013, with the loss of Places Search, I wrote a post titled Is Google Debranding Local? where I posited that Google was deemphasizing Local as a consumer facing brand. I also noted that Google would make sure that local would “persist as a service feeding critical contextually relevant data to the many current Google products that use local data”.

I would contend that this has in fact occurred and that the basic trend of removing Local branding and local specific features in other products has continued. In June of last year, Google rebranded the backend of local as Google My Business. This allowed Google to create a stand alone app by that name and further integrate the data collection back end needed for local into G+ Pages.

LG_gifs_howToReview_gplus_US_0212a (2)The recent removal of G+ Local search and the Local link from Google Plus further reinforces the idea of removing locally focused forward facing branding and functionality and I think that we may see more changes along this line. When it was announced Google positioned the change to their most active local review writers as a way to make life simpler:

We are making some changes to streamline the Google+ experience, including removing Google+ Local from the navigation bar. You will still be able to see and edit your content under the Reviews tab on your profile, in addition to searching and reviewing local places on +Google Maps, Google Maps for Mobile and Google.com. We look forward to rolling out more features and improvements based on your feedback in the future.

I would suggest that with mobile now the dominant platform for  searching and user time, that the future of Google’s focus on local will be as a value added content for the Google Maps App(s) and to a lesser extent browser based mobile search. I don’t think we will see any forward facing “Google Local Brand” any time soon if ever.

While I think we will continue to see local data as an integral part of Google desktop search we may see even less of it elsewhere (like on G+) as Google uses local data (business listings & review content) to further their goal of positioning Google Maps as a dominant mobile destination.

Google My Business Locations (Bulk) Gets Interface Update

Michael Wallace (@LocalGladiator) of Ethology has alerted me to a new, shiny interface for the Google My Business Locations (i.e. bulk) dashboard.

Announced in the Help Files with the interface conventions detailed here, the interface appears to improve what has been a product frequented with bugs and inconsistencies. Google has now posted in the forum as well where they note that time to live has improved. .

The new interface provides meaningful error states and the options to fix the errors as well as the ability to sort locations by Status, Store Code or location Name. There is also a “to-Do” list option that quickly shows you listings that require updates. Hopefully the many idiopathic error messages that had no resolution have been banished as well.

Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 10.35.16 PM

 

There is a pull out window that allows multiple ways of filtering the listings by different state so that you can view & hopefully repair listings that are in various states of well being or disrepair:

Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 10.36.39 PM

  • Formatting errors
  • Duplicate store codes
  • Duplicate locations
  • Duplicate addresses
  • Disabled
  • Different owner
  • Google updates
  • Missing store codes
  • Pending review
  • Unverified locations
  • Live locations

Unfortunately analytics & review management are still on a per location basis with no opportunity to view them collectively and there is no option to add photos to the Plus Page without the owner/manager returning to each location’s page level editor in Plus. All three gaping productivity sinks that will some day be fixed. It is also unclear whether Google has fixed the annoying 200 character limit on description although since this is mostly a cosmetic upgrade it seems unlikely. Oh and there is still no phone support.

The interface is a definite improvement for bulk users. But there is still a long way to go.

Updated AM, May 13 with minor details.

The Value of Google Collections 1 Week In

Google Collections was introduced on May 4th, one week ago. As I noted at the time there were three constituencies that needed to be addressed for it to be successful; Content Creators & Curators, Content Consumers and of course Google themselves. And as I pointed out, Google’s marketing would be the difference.

Google will obviously take care of themselves and content consumer value will be determined by usage trends over time. I can however speak to its value so far, at least in terms of follower counts (and to a lesser extent engagement) from my point of view as a Content Creator & Curator.

For rollout I created 6 Collections. I subsequently merged the Apple collection into the Mobile Local collection. My typical follower growth up to the introduction of Collections had been very, very consistent at about 100 new followers per week. 

Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 4.37.56 PM

On May 4th I had 17,636 followers and all of them were privy to my collections so they had the same. My follower count today is 17,706.

My collections and their current follower count:

Google My Business – Tips & Tools 17,705
Local Search – tips, tactics and news 17,701
Scenes of Rural New York – Barns, Nature and More 17,682
Reviews & Reputation for the SMB 17,700
Apple & Local Search – deleted and content merged with Mobile Local Search
Mobile Local Search 18,524

Note that while most of my collections track my follower growth pretty closely, Mobile Local Search showed a large jump. Why? Because it was a featured collection and was (is) being promoted by Google.

In terms of interactions I can anecdotally say that +1s are up but comments are not.  Site traffic from G+ for the week is up about 4x over the previous week although it is way to early to tell the long term impact on that front. So for me, the benefit has been real if not overwhelming despite several annoying “features” and the lack of availability on iOS. And I think, for other creator/curator types that had their Collections highlighted, probably likewise.

Regardless, it confirms for me my previous conclusion: Collections is a nice but not spectacular feature that can benefit Creators, Curators and Consumers but ONLY if Google promotes it. Otherwise, it is just a me too feature with no significant added value other than that data gained by Google in understanding the world better.

I am curious if you have created Collections what your experience has been.

 

 

Google Rolls Out Mobile Local business orders and appointments

Update: Google has posted information about this service in the forum. 

Google has started rolling out the ability for searchers to directly book a table, order or make an appointment via mobile Google search and Google Maps. Previously there had been links to some of these services like OpenTable but now the user can complete the reservation directly via the Google interface.

Currently Google is working with a limited number of partners to provide the services. If a business is currently signed up for OpenTable for example then the table reservation feature will appear automatically on their mobile page at Google. It is rolling out, so while I found the process currently available in Google Maps for some restaurants it was not yet available on Safari for the same restaurant. The current list of partner sites includes Grubhub, Eat24, Delivery.com, BeyondMenu and MyPizza.com and apparently OpenTable.

Screen Shot 2015-05-07 at 2.27.42 PM
From Help Page
Photo May 07, 1 57 40 PMPhoto May 07, 2 23 49 PM Continue reading Google Rolls Out Mobile Local business orders and appointments

How to get Google Status Update ROBOCALLS from 3rd party marketers HIRED BY GOOGLE to stop calling?!?!

phone-449836_1280This Google MyBusiness forum post, pointed out by Joy Hawkins, shows the far reaching impact that local search robo callers have in poisoning the industry.

It is amazing to me 1) that we allow our regulatory environment be so lax that these scams continue (ah isn’t laissez faire capitalism grand?) and 2) that Google has not made an obvious, highly visible effort to slap these folks down.

How to get Google Status Update ROBOCALLS from 3rd party marketers HIRED BY GOOGLE to stop calling?!?!

Jennifer SligarLevel 1
Apr 30

We get 5 robo-calls per week (sometimes up to 3 calls per day) with a “Google Status Update” recording saying that our Google Business Listing needs to be updated. We have nothing and want nothing to do with Google and yet when you press 2 at the end of the call to be deleted from the list, nothing changes. THE CALLS CONTINUE. When you press 1 you are generally not connected to a live person (to tell them to stop calling in person).

Today, however, I was.

“Paul” told me that he would take me off the list from “his” office but that Google hires DOZENS of marketing companies to make THE EXACT SAME ROBOCALL, using the EXACT SAME AUTO DIALERS and that our office would continue to be hounded by these calls forever or until we have exhausted some unknown number of firms to get off of their lists as well.

I CALL BS ON YOU GOOGLE, FOR ALL THAT YOU CLAIM NOT TO MAKE CALLS…YOU HIRE !!!DOZENS!!! OF COMPANIES TO DO FOR YOU WHAT YOU CLAIM TO NOT DO!!!!!

WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE??? THIS IS DIRTY POOL!!!

WE SHOULD NOT HAVE TO WASTE OUR VALUABLE COMPANY TIME CONTINUOUSLY, DAY BY DAY, WEEK BY WEEK, TO TELL YOU OR YOUR MARKETING FIRMS THAT WE DON’T WANT TO GIVE YOU OUR INFORMATION.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!STOP CALLING US!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
DO YOU HEAR????????????????????
IS THIS LOUD ENOUGH????????????????????????????????
STOP FUCKING CALLING US!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This is an amazing post. Continue reading How to get Google Status Update ROBOCALLS from 3rd party marketers HIRED BY GOOGLE to stop calling?!?!