June 14, 2013
As the new Google Places for Business Dashboard is being adopted more widely, we are starting to gain insights into its strengths and limits. One of its great strengths (besides a much enhanced interface) is the speed at which data typically makes it to the public listing making the use of MapMaker no longer as critical in the listing management process.
Apparently though there currently is a somewhat surprising hard limit that imposes a maximum of 25 listings in the new dashboard. The Google Help documentation notes a limit of 100 but that obviously applies to the old Dashboard and not the new one.
Brian Rutledge of Get Page One, LLC received this message while managing a large SAB with a number of locations.
Google introduced the new Places for Business dashboard on April 2nd. Initially the product was only available to newly claimed listing. Google started the process of converting existing dashboard users to the new dashboard late last month, beggining with the simplest dashboard use cases first. Those with lots of listings, AdWords Express ads in play or listings claimed into multiple accounts have not yet started the conversion process.
This new found limit at a fairly low number effectively forces more businesses into the bulk upload process which, while a good solution for many, does not offer the speedy data updates of the dashboard, easy access to the simplified marketing products or any obvious path to a social presence.
Hopefully a more graceful integration of the two disparate products can be achieved. It would be ideal if the dashboard could handle more listings or perhaps there was a migration path from the single listing dashboard to the bulk upload process for growing businesses.
While the Dashboard has never been intended for managing a great number of business listings or as an agency level product it is unfortunate that businesses. particularly in the 25-50 location range have so few good choices currently for listing management if they want a partial social presence or limited use of Google’s marketing products. They could migrate over to the G+ management interface but that appears to me to be a much less efficient listing management environment than either the dashboard or the bulk upload.
Regardless there is nothing more frustrating than a forced do over when an agency or SMB runs up against an undocumented limit of a product and has no elegant way to make the switch.
Update: Apparently Google will NOT approve these listings under the bulk upload program and the business is forced into using multiple dashboards. Although why that is, is unclear:
June 6, 2013
Googler Jade W posted in the Google for Business forums that they have now added a link to the branded Knowledge panel result for local businesses that allows business owners to claim their listing directly from the main search result page. The link only shows on a direct branded search not on a category search. Here is here post:
Managing your business’s presence on Google is now easier and more accessible. Now, when you search for your business on Google, under right-hand-side panel, there’s a link that says Are you the business owner? Clicking on this will direct you to become the verified owner of this business on Google Places for Business, or to manage the page for your business if you’ve already done so.
It’s easier than ever for business owner to begin the verification process, right from searching for your business on Google.
At some level it is a very small change. It does however point out two things. 1) Google is ready to accept new listing claims into the recently updated Places for Business Dashboard and 2)that Google has the power to ramp up SMB engagement at any moment by adding a link to their home page.
Google’s home page gets significantly more traffic than Maps or Places or G+ local ever has or will. The fact that Google has added this link to the front page should send a clear signal to the market that Google can easily increase the numbers of SMBS claiming their business listing and engaging with Google’s free and paid products. Are they finally starting to do just that?
June 3, 2013
Last week Google announced that they were starting the process of converting existing, old style dashboards to the new Google Places for Business Dashboard. I just received this email notice that one of my favorite “business” listings had received the dashboard update: Illusory Laptop Repair.
When you log into the new dashboard the user is presented with a nicely designed visual encouraging them to add missing details to the listing.
Here is a copy of the email that is being sent:
May 30, 2013
Google has announced in the forum that they have fixed one of the previously noted issues with the new Google Places for Business Dashboard; the speed of photo uploads. In the old Dashboard it might have taken a month or more for photos to show. When the upgraded Dashboard was released last month, it took several weeks. Now apparently, photos uploaded via the new dashboard should appear in several hours. Here is the update from the forum post:
If you’re using the new dashboard, your photo uploading experience is now improved. Photos uploaded via the new Place for Business dashboard will now go live in hours in most cases. You can send us feedback about this and other features by clicking on the gear on the right -> Send Feedback. Thanks!
In other news, Josh Volk of LocalSeoUpdate.com notes that Google has implemented the one and only one claimant rule on listings via the new dashboard. If a listing has been previously claimed, it is not possible to reclaim the listing into a new account without Google intervention. If you are unable to contact the previous claimant to remove the listing from their account and if the listing has not been edited over the past year, Google support will immediately approve the new claiming request. If however the listing has been edited within the last year then Google support “will call the business owner to truly verify everything … and can then remove the claim from the other account”.
And last but not least, Google has also updated their Data Highlighter and Structured Data tool. This tool allows you to add “rich snippets” without adding any code to your site.
1. Data Highlighter now supports a whole bunch of new schemas: Products, local businesses, articles, software applications, movies, restaurants, and TV episodes.
2. Structured Data Markup Helper Tool: this is a very easy way to get code samples for structured data markup using your own content. Using a process similar to Data Highlighter, you highlight your content and it then generates example HTML you can download and use as a starting point to mark up your content.
May 28, 2013
For as long as Google has displayed local results they have done so with a modified Yellow Page listing approach albeit one that ranked by prominence rather than distance or alphabetically.
With the rollout of the new Google Maps preview, the loss of the Places search link & Places search from the main page of Google and the recent tests of the carousel for local hotel results, one has to ask if Google is moving away from rank ordering in an A-G list so prevalent over the past 8 years of local to a flatter, more review centric view of local listings.
The new Map view of businesses is striking in its attempt to force the user to pick a particular business based on its overal relevance and prominence within a given geography. The geography is the metaphor not a list. The list view along the left side of the display, once as equally as prominent as the Map, is now relegated to being located at least one click further away. It is not very visible once a user starts clicking on pins and is unlikely to be clicked very often. Admittedly Google is still ranking the results as they are showing 12 accommodation icons and 8 business names in the results to the exclusion of all other listings but Google is no longer readily indicating that they think one business listing is superior to any other within the display.
Equally intriguing is Google’s testing of the carousel display for local hotel results (courtesy of Lisa Kolb of Acorn Internet Services). This display “flattens” the local results and puts nearly equal emphasis on each of the top 7 results. The return of organic results so prominently on the page are also fascintating. Results 4, 5, 7, 8, 9 and 10 are the organic pages for the B&Bs showing at the top of the page giving each property two shots at the searcher. I have no idea how click through rates are influenced by position in carousel results or how users react to the pages being repeated in the organic results below. However the images at the top are very eye grabbing and unlike a list display typical of the 7 -Pack, it seems to me that a click on the middle or to the right is as likely as a click on the first result.
(click to view full page)
As Lisa Kolb pointed out in her article, the Zagat rating in this display (and one presumes a big, fat red star when Google makes that switchover away from Zagat) will be a primary attractant to the user.
This change is very consistent with Google’s new card focused design aesthetic that we are seeing in Plus, Glass and Now as well as the new Maps. Can it be long before that new design change and a non list view of rank hits the front page of Google?
May 27, 2013
Language is an interesting thing. Sometimes it can be used in terribly inappropriate ways. Like in this email from the US Chamber of Commerce where he suggests “we remember those that have given to the cause ” of supporting “the most… opportunistic country in the world”. The email went from tribute to travesty in one word.
|Dear Mike ,
As we celebrate the long weekend and unofficial start of the summer season, we also want to take a moment to commemorate our nation’s veterans, past and present.
Did you know that Memorial Day is the only holiday that begins with the flag at half-staff in honor of the fallen and then raises it to full-mast at noon to inspire and pay tribute to those that serve on in their stead?
We’re lucky to live in the most free and opportunistic country in the world. Today we remember those who have given to that cause.
We hope you’ll take a minute to share our post on Facebook.
Have a safe and happy memorial day,
SVP and National Political Director
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
|U.S. Chamber of Commerce 1615 H Street, NW Washington DC 20062-2000
Here is Google’s (and generally accepted) definition of the word:
- Exploiting chances offered by immediate circumstances without reference to moral principle.
May 21, 2013
Google just announced in the forums that they were starting the process of converting existing Dashboard users to the new Placed for Business Dashboard. Here is the post:
As of May 21, some existing Places users will begin to see the new Google Places for Business dashboard. The transition will happen automatically, and all existing users should continue to manage listings at http://places.google.com. Please keep in mind that the new dashboard is still gradually being rolled out, so not all existing users will see the change right now.
What happened to the custom categories I had using the old dashboard?
Custom categories are no longer showing on listings with the new dashboard. Business owners should try to select an auto-filled category that most closely describes their business. We’re working on improving the way categories work, and by sticking with the categories we have defined, we believe we can better connect customers and businesses.
What happened to payment options, additional details, or videos?
These fields do not appear publicly, and the data will not be transferred onto the new dashboard. The “videos” field no longer appears in the dashboard. You can access prior uploaded videos through your Youtube account. If you wish to post videos on the listing for your business, upgrade to a local Google+ page.
I’m using Google+ to manage the local page for my business; what should I do?
Please continue using Google+ for management, as you had before. If you were using both Google+ and Google Places for business, you should continue doing so. When we are ready to migrate the pages that have social features, we will have further instructions.
I’m using Google Places but don’t see the new dashboard, yet. Should I panic?
Don’t panic. The new dashboard is still rolling out gradually, and we’ll continue to post updates here. Please continue to use Google Places for Business as usual.
May 17, 2013
At the Philadelphia Local U last week I had a chance to touch Matt McGee’s Glass. It was exhilarating, disturbing, interesting, disorienting and a number of other adjectives. Everyone at the table was anxious to try it and see what it did and how it works.
I was struck by its awkwardness and obtrusiveness as a wearable device and it is clear why it has already engendered a new noun: Glasshole. But I was also amazed at the power that an always on, always present, always connected device has and its obvious impact on local. Despite my inability to bond with the device it raised the question for me: Is this the future of computing?
My personal answer as to whether the Glass was THE PRODUCT was “not this product, not this form factor” as it didn’t go far enough for me to define a compelling experience. I wasn’t sure what I was hiring it to do (as Horace Diedu always says).
That though raised the question: Was it me or was it the Glass that was the problem? Was I being myopic and it was really the future?
To try to get out of my own way I asked all of the folks at Local U (whose opinions I value very highly) to give me some perspective by answering the following questions:
Macintosh was a metaphor for desktop computing. The iPhone became the metaphor for smart phones. The early products defined what other products needed to be like.
1) Do you think that the Google Glass is a metaphor for the next generation of small, wearable computers?
2) Is it a winner?
3) Do you think that Google will make Glass the market leader in the category?
Read their answers at the Local U Blog: Thoughts About Google Glass – Is It a New Metaphor for Mobile Computing and Local Search? and let me know what you think,
May 16, 2013
Google has announced in the forums their ability and willingness to now move reviews when a business has moved locations and to remove reviews with significant brand changes for a given location. The request by the business to do so is done via a new troubleshooter.
The guidelines that will apply to requests to move reviews can be summarized as follows: same business at a new location, reviews will be moved; New business at the same location reviews will be removed.
This new (and welcome) capability in no way affects the policy or procedure around removing inappropriate individual reviews – flagging the review as inappropriate via the G+ Plage and if dissatisfied with the lack of response then filing a troubleshooter report.
Here are the specifics of the guidelines:
Change of ownership
If you are the new owner or manager of an existing business that hasn’t changed it’s name, reviews will not be removed. You can use owner responses to respond to previous reviews and clarify any changes/improvements to the services your business is providing.
Change in name
If you are the new owner or manager of an existing business that has changed its name, reviews may be removed if your business meets specific criteria.
- Rebrand: Reviews can be removed from the listing if there’s been a significant change in well known, distinct brand name changes. Hotels or fast food establishment that switch franchise affiliations or car dealers that specialize in a different makes of cars would qualify for review removal.
- Name changes related to change in underlying services: For instance, a business that switches from Jade’s Chinese Garden Restaurant to India Palace Restaurant, or Al’s Sporting Goods Store to Performance Bike Repair, would qualify for review removal
- Partners or other business affiliations that disassociate: For example, if Perkins and Rogers, Attorneys at Law becomes Perkins, Attorney at Law because Rogers has left the practice to form his own, all reviews would be detached. Note that all reviews would be removed, not just the ones that refer to a particular practitioner
Name changes that don’t reflect core changes to the business’s services aren’t eligible for review removal. For example, if Dasha’s Dry Cleaner becomes Dasha’s Super Dry Cleaner, or JFK Limo Service becomes Super JFK Limo, reviews will remain in place.
Out of business
If your business closes, reviews will remain attached to the closed listing.
Physical location (address) move
If your business moves from one location to another and keeps the same business name, Google will generally move the reviews to the new location. There are some exceptions for businesses heavily tied to their locations, like hotels, golf courses or scenic attractions.
Submit a request for us to move reviews using this form. Currently this is only available for users of the new Google Places for Business dashboard, but we expect to expand its availability soon. I will update this post when it is available more widely.
Peter Troast of EnergyCircle.com asked a great question in the comments to my post about the new visuals for the (now named) Maps List View -aka Places Search- result:
Also seems like the # of reviews threshold is shifting for display. For zero reviews, “Be the first to review” appears right under company name. From 1-__, it looks as if nothing appears at all (in contrast to the old “3 Google Reviews.” I’ve seen a couple 5 review listings that displayed the new stars (yeah!), and several 8′s and 9′s, so it appears the 10 review threshold is coming down. Anyone figured out what the new threshold is? Certainly seems like nowheresville for 1-4.
The answer is 5. It takes 5 reviews for Google to show the stars. On these searches for restaurants surfaces results with a range of lower review totals. Obviously we do not yet know how or when they will update the main search results display to stars and whether this will apply.