Google is formally announcing their data rich Desktop for the LBC this morning. The new LBC view has been visible to a growing number of LBC users over the past week and should be visible to all US listings by Tuesday afternoon. I had some questions about the product and its focus which Carter Maslan, Director of Product Management for Google Maps took the time to answer.
MB: Please give me an overview of the product and its importance
Carter Maslan (CM): I have this mental image of a little shoe shop owner getting all of this info. Google is making all of this information visible. It is information that has never been visible before. The main thing motivating us, is giving offline businesses the same visibilty to information that you have with online businesses.
MB:What are you calling this new Lcoal Business Center Feature?
CM: the Dashboard in the LBC
MB: It is visible as a report in my LBC list view. The interface appears as if it could replace the current list view? Is it going to be the new interface?
CM: If you are a single verified business this is the first view that you will see. Right now if you have more than one listing it will be in the list view and will allow you to jump to the data rich view via the View Report Link. Further improvements are going to be made in the interface.
Now instead of the Local Business Center being solely a way to control how a business listing appears, it becomes an information rich source that can support an offline camapign. It will allow the small business to track and correlate offline activities with online behaviors.
MB: What is an impression? It is Just inside Maps or does it reflect Universal Local results as well
CM: An impression is the number of times the business listing appeared as a search result on Google.com search or Google Maps search in a given period.
MB: Initially I see that it is prepopulated with 30 days of data. Any chance of month over month comparison stats after 30 days?
CM: We could change on this but it will start on April 20 or so and go forward so if you look in August you will see accumulated history from that time. There are no plans for a month over month comparison at this time
MB: You have a small graphic indiciation completion level. Is there a guide somewhere that tells what it takes to get to 100% or is it just populating every field to its maximum IE 10 Photos, 5 videos etc..
CM: We are making a change so that is more specific as to what the % complete indicates. If it isn’t available on rollout it will be available shortly.
MB: Does completion level have any impact outside of a guide to the client? I.E. does it affect standing?
CM: Nothing other than our standard view which is that if you have a complete listing you have a more appealing listing. It does not directly affect ranking. Our view is that the better you, as a business owner, represent yourself the better you able to selected among the choices. Our goal is to try to help the business present themselves in the best light.
MB: Any upgrades to deal automatically with clutter in the LBC? Will the new dashboard allow for easier management?
CM: In terms of the list view, there are no changes in this release. Going forward we’ll continue with the Local Business Center being the primary place where information is provided to Google. The interaction to get to the different views needs to be improved but we have a huge list of things we need to do. We are working as fast as we can in priority order.
MB: None of the “Top Search Queries” reported back include geo modifiers. Is that information not being shown? Or is it that the general terms with the out the geo phrase generates so much more traffic?
CM: Our report just includes the what part of the querie and and we are then summarizing the results with the where part of the querie. So the where part whether implied or stated are noted the same.
MB: I noticed in my test that roughly 20% of my Top Search Queires were “other”. Will we be able to access that information?
CM: “Top Search Queries” is analougus to Trends in that there is a necessity to protect prvacy on the 20% of the low volume searches. It would be too easy to identify individual searchers if we made this information available.
MB: One of the frustrating issues with the LBC is that it does not divulge the complete information that Google might be showing in Maps. I.E. where 3rd or 4th phone numbers are coming from or where a bad fax number is coming from. Are there any plans with your new interface to make that information more transparent?
CM: We are working on that particularly in the case where we know for certain that someone has verified and claimed a listing. We are working on changes that would make it less likely to display a phone number from other sources so that is going to be improved.
MB: What is the Timeframe for that?
CM: It is a very high priority. We are already doing it to somne extent but we will be getting more strict going forward.
MB: You noted that the dashboard feature will initially be available only in the US. I am getting feedback that it is visible in Canada. Is that the case? When will it be rolled out internationally?
CM: It is based on the location of the lsting not the localtion of the LBC user. So Canadian LBC users can only see US listings in the new view.
MB: What is the timeframe for broader international rollout?
CM: It is a high priority but we have nothing specific to communicate. It will follow as we are able to provide it but there is no timeline to announce at the moment.
MB: What didn’t I ask that you think is significant about this effort or any of your Local efforts?
CM: This is a brand new set of data that hasn’t been visible before and I am eager to see how people actually use it…getting Google visibility and measurablity will offer huge benefits to the small business person.