Update: 12:30: I have changed the title of the article from saying “Account” to “Listings” as what is being transferred is the G+ Page ownership NOT the account.
I learned the hard way this past week that a business listing in the new Google Places for Business Dashboard that has been upgraded to social functionality, is intimately tied to that social presence. Delete the social page and you delete the business listing forcing you to reclaim the listing. The upshot of this is once you go social you can’t go back. At least not without some aggravation.
Dan Pritchett, who plays a significant role in the dashboard development at Google, said this:
To be clear, with the new dashboard the G+ page and the listing are tightly associated. Every G+ Local page is backed by a listing and once you get a G+ Local page, your places listing is tied to it. Removing one always removes the other.
But like all Google “features” there is a flipside to this. Since the business listing is intimately associated with the social G+ page it’s ownership can now be transferred via the G+ Page ownership transfer option. This seems like a simple function and so self evident that one might ask why I am even writing about it. Despite the obvious nature of the feature, it has has never before been possible.
Again according to Dan who responded in the same G+ post:
Okay, just clarified, that once you have a G+ page, transferring ownership of the Local page also transfers ownership of the listing.
Obviously the steps necessary to being able to transfer a listing that is not yet social are probably more cumbersome than just deleting the listing from your account (again with not without some scary verbiage). But if the listing is already social then the process is relatively straight forward via the G+ interface. Here are the instructions:
Step 2 of 3 Click Managers associated with the page you’d like to transfer.
Step 3 of 3 Click the dropdown arrow on the card of the person and select Transfer ownership to _name of user_.
OK class. To summarize where and when one can transfer ownership of a listing. There may be a pop quiz later in the week.
If the business listing is in the new Google Places Dashboard AND the listing has been upgraded to the have social functionality, you can transfer it via the Google Pages ownership transfer technique.
If it is in the old dashboard it can be reclaimed by another account without the need for a transfer. Although leaving the listing in the old dashboard may impinge on your ability to leave review responses so you probably want to delete the listing from the old account.
If it is in the new dashboard but not yet social, it would need to be deleted and then reclaimed to effect a transfer
Now if Google would just have one solution, improve the language of these processes and offer some degree of granularity in the delete function, we might be getting someplace.
Since Google has allowed business listings created via the (old) Places Dashboard to merge with and take on attributes of a G+ Page for local, it has been standard procedure in certain problem cases to delete the G+ Page and return the listing to a non-social listing. I had done so on numerous occasions with no ill effects.
So when I when I was demonstrating to a client exactly how easy it was to create the social features for a business listing from the new Places for Business Dashboard, I assumed that there would be no issues if I deleted the social pages and reverted the listing back to a basic listing until they were ready for a more social listing. Well the old saw, “if you assume you make an ass out of u and me” definitely applies in this situation.
If you delete a business’s social page of an upgraded listing, the listing will also be deleted from the new Places for Business Dashboard and require reverification to add back. The process will also delete any other Google+ entities that you may have created.
Here is the Google messaging when you go to delete the social page of an upgraded business listing:
When Google says all Google Services, they mean ALL GOOGLE SERVICES including your business listing from your dashboard.
What can you do if you or your client has an upgraded business listing and don’t need or want the social tab? As far as I can tell, nothing. While Google offers up the ability to shut off the video, photos and business reviews (of other businesses) tabs they do not offer any facility, once a business listing in the new dashboard has been upgraded to social & video, to shut of the social stream on the listing.
First spotted on Linda Buquet’s forum earlier today on Monday, Google has announced that they have started auto-merging G+ social functionality into basic (upgraded) Dashboard listings. Here is the Google announcement (bold is mine):
Starting today, some pages managed in the new Google Places for Business dashboard will be automatically upgraded to have social features. We will send out emails to users whose pages are automatically upgraded letting them know. Users who have upgraded pages will see a link to Visit your Google+ page in their dashboards. A personal Google+ accountis not necessary in order to utilize social features on local Google+ pages that are automatically upgraded.
If the listing for your business is not automatically upgraded and you are interested in social features, you may be able to use the Google+ widget to upgrade the page manually. (You can read more about the Google+ widget in the update from April 11 on this post — scroll up.)
Please first make sure you follow these criteria:
You must have verified your business in your Places account.
Your page must be in a category that is eligible for Google+.
If these apply to you, you will see a Google+ widget in your dashboard inviting you to upgrade. Simply click Get your Google+ page to upgrade. This will create a local Google+ page in Google+ that is tied to your Google+ account. You will be able to update this page from both Google Places for Business and Google+.
If you do not see the Google+ widget yet, or don’t have the upgrade link in your widget, sit tight while we work on getting a smooth upgrade process in place for you.
To clarify Google’s somewhat imprecise communication: Google is saying that if you wait and just have a generic Google email or corporate email BUT not a G+ account, your dashboard will be upgraded automatically to be able to have a social presence and video capabilities. My understanding is that if you don’t not post any social content to your stream then your listing will continue to not show the posts tab and likewise with videos.
If you want to to have a social presence for your business before that new capability hits your account you can initiate the upgrade from within the new dashboard if your login email for the dashboard is already a G+ Plus account.
The bottom line is that if you sit and wait your new Places for Business Dashboard will bring all of the social and video features of Plus to your business without the need for an individual to have a Plus persona. You can continue to use a generic or corporate email address to manage the listings.
This is obviously a second, continuing step in creating an integrated system where all listing management can occur from within the Places Dashboard and where a business will have the ability to manage the whole system as a branded entity rather than as an individual, an obvious necessity for large businesses as well as small.
While the listing management picture is clearing up, there are still some questions around how the bulk upload feature set will be integrated into this picture and how a single brand with many locations will be accommodated so to not need to produce social streams per location. Hopefully the wait will not be interminable but this change dramatically simplifies management of listings for both agencies and a range of businesses that struggle with arbitrarily putting one individual face forward as a claimant of the brand.
Google has had a busy week on the local front. The most significant of these updates are two new local interface conventions in the main search results. Clearly Google wants increase the visibility of their reviews and it is going to do so by keeping users on their front page.
Yesterday Andrew Shotland started seeing the local pop-up that provides review content directly in the main search results rather than requiring a user to head over to the G+ Page. According to Google this interface change is being rolled out universally. It is currently not seen by all users but will soon be visible by all and is a permanent change. Here are screenshots from Scott Rowley on G+.
The other major change is in the new Local Carousel. First written about yesterday by Dan Leibson, Google has added a faceted search facility to the carousel that allows users to discover and recover listings by ratings directly from the carousel and in the case of restaurants by pricing and cuisine as well. This feature was first seen in some of the early tests of the Local Carousel but seemed to have been dropped in the initial rollout.
Once a search is modified by rating (and in the case of restuarants, price and cuisine) a branded search results. One assumes that even on those the reviews will then be visible from the front page in a pop up.
When viewed in conjunction with the new City Expert program, one has to conclude that Google is looking to not just increase the visibility of reviews but to increase their quantity as well. With the bulk of a business information appearing in the side panel and the ease with which one can now view reviews on the front page, visitors will have fewer reasons to visit a businesses Plus local page from the main search results.
Small businesses will likely feel the sting and as Darren Shaw asked will also ask: “Why is Google abandoning their Plus Local pages?” I think that Google is looking to capture readers for a longer period of time at their main search results rather than “abandon” Plus Local pages. The reality is that many, many more readers are on the front page of Google than ever make it into a Plus local page. If Google can increase engagement on the home page by 2% that would far exceed even a 50% increase of engagement on a Plus local page in terms of “time at Google”. Perhaps Google thinks that the lost traffic to Plus Local page will be made up by increasing social content. Most small businesses will need to think long and hard about how much time they put into making the Plus page more engaging.
With the rollout of the knowledge panel the Plus local pages became largely irrelevant to searchers with the exception of reviews. Now that reason is gone as well. With these two more interface changes users will be more trapped“engaged” in Google’s world and will be less tempted to visits other sites.
Gregg Gifford, Adam Dorfman and Dan Leibson have each put together lists of keywords that trigger the new Local Carousel. I noticed that while there was some overlap between the lists there was also a number of unique words on each list. I assembled them into one list and with some additional research on my part expanded the combined list to over 300 words.
As with all things Google there are obvious trends and always a few oddities. For the most part the phrases do revolve entertainment, recreation and leisure activities. And there are a few outliers that don’t fit into that category so well. Gluten Free Produce Store hardly seems a leisure time pursuit and nor does piano tuning. But its very difficult to imagine what fun one might have at a Gas Station (props to John Denny for that one). Particularly one near Buffalo.
You can add additional trigger keywords below. But I am also making the list available as a Google Docs Spreadsheet so that you can add additional search phrases that you find that trigger the Local Carousel directly to it, if you prefer.
Yesterday on Plus Google Survey announced a new (and free) survey tool to assess visitor satisfaction with your website. From their post:
If you are like most business owners, you know how important a healthy online community is to your business’s success. Traditionally, collecting user feedback has been an expensive and time-consuming process, but now you can hear from your site visitors for free using Google Consumer Surveys.
Website satisfaction surveys allow you to easily create customer satisfaction surveys in order to stay in tune with what your customers think. All you have to do is paste a small snippet of code in the HTML for your website. This will load a discreet satisfaction survey in the lower right hand corner of your website so you can get immediate feedback from your users.
Users will be asked to complete a four-question satisfaction survey. Surveys will run until they have received 500 responses and will start again after 30 days so you can track responses over time. This is currently limited to US English visitors on non-mobile devices.
The default questions are free and you can customize questions for just $0.01 per response or $5.00 for 500 responses. By using Google Consumer Surveys to measure website satisfaction you automatically get aggregated and analyzed responses, provided to you through a simple online interface.
Creating a website satisfaction survey is simple, just go to< a href=”http://www.google.com/insights/consumersurveys/publishers” rel=”nofollow”>http://www.google.com/insights/consumersurveys/publishers to get started.
The Knowledge Graph Carousel was first introduced in August of last year. The Local Carousel was introduced formally last week although it had been appearing regularly before that. While there are similarities between the two types of carousel, they do not return quite the same information or display and it might foster some confusion on results that one thinks should be local that are not and vice versa.
How can you tell them apart?
Here are two carousels, one of each type, for roughly the same search result (one was misspelled).
Differences: The traditional Knowledge Graph Carousel typically displays logos and the right side panel is for the first, most popular result. The Local Carousel shows a map on the right side panel, typically does not display logos and does display photographs. Most importantly the Local Carousel displays Zagat rating and total reviews.
Interior view differences:
When you click into one of the results there are subtle differences as well.
Google first rolled out phone support for businesses using the Places Dashboard in early January of this year to deal with verification issues and subsequently announced additional phone support for data quality issues in late January for all English speaking users.
They had introduced email support in the US in Oct 2011 and rolled out email support worldwide in May of this year when they closed the European forums. One assumes with somewhere on the order of 100 million businesses world wide, somewhere north of 8 million claimed and their highlighting of the call in system in the help files the loads on their support system must be significant.
(First help screen seen when you click on the help link in the dashboard)
(Screen seen when you click on “Contact Us”)
Yet their support fulfillment seems to be consistently very, very good.
I had a data quality issue with a secondary phone number showing up for a listing and it seemed that nothing I did over the past 13 days could disuade the Google algo from showing the incorrect number. I called support yesterday and here is the time log of the events:
10:28 Initiated call back support call
10:29 Received call back and placed on hold
10:32 Customer rep picked up the phone
10:32-34 Discussed issue with rep
10:34-36 Rep goes off to interact with tools to fix issue
10:36-37 Rep reports that issue should be resolved within several hours to a day
10:37-39 Rep chit chat.
4:00 When I bother to look the problem is fixed on the main search result page Knowledge panel for the location.
Last Thursday at the Advanced Local U, Dan Pritchett, the engineer heading up the Places for Business Dashboard effort and Joel Headley, joined us for the day long discussions.
During the day, the arbitrary limits to the maximum number of listings (25) in the dashboard were discussed and bemoaned by the folks at the seminar. For service area businesses with more than 25 locations, it meant there would thus be a need for multiple dashboards. Not a great solution. Dan heard and he acted.
I have just been informed that based on the feedback received Dan lifted the 25 listing limit to 100 in the new Places interface. Kudos to Google for listening and responding!
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.
This change is very consistent with Google’s new card focuseddesign 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?