Canadian Categories from the New Dashboard Now Added to Google Category Tool

google-places-iconWith the help of Darren Shaw of Whitespark, we have recently added the list of Canadian categories from the new Google Places for Business Dashboard to our searchable Google Places Category Tool.

The new Places for Business Dashboard is country specific and the categories that one sees are IP & country specific. Thus I need to ask your help in gathering the categories for the countries that now have the new dashboard.

If you would like to volunteer 10 minutes of your time to help me gather categories in one of the following countries to which you have access please contact me at mike@blumenthals.com and I will send you instructions. Not much glory in this job besides public recognition, a link and knowing that you have helped others better understand Google Places.

Countries for which I need help obtaining the category list:

Austria
Belgium
Croatia
Czech Republic
Denmark
Finland
France
Germany
Ireland
Italy
Liechtenstein
Netherlands
New Zealand
Norway
Portugal
Singapore
Spain
Sweden
Switzerland
UK

Reviews And Lawsuits – Is There a Better Way?

Yelp received a lot of attention in the online world last week for suing a bankruptcy lawyer (who had previously sued them and won) for leaving fake reviews. Suing a single practitioner may have some value in terms of the publicity and alerting businesses to the risks of creating fake reviews. But given the scale of this particular fake review problem it must largely be seen as a symbolic move on Yelp’s part if not retribution.

However the recent less publicized fake review suit and settlement by Edmunds seems to be more substantial and significantly more interesting. It was brought to my attention on Twitter by Ellen Edmands, a content manager for a car dealership marketing company in New York:

According to the lawsuit Edmunds accused Texas-based Humankind Design Ltd. of “registering nearly 2,200 fake member accounts on Edmunds’ website to post positive but bogus ratings and reviews about 25 dealerships in an attempt to influence consumers’ opinions”. Edmunds in their press release noted that Humankind, as operator of Glowingreviews.com blatantly identified “15 review sites on which it is prepared to post fake reviews; the list includes Google+, Yelp, Foursquare, Citysearch and local.yahoo.com. Edmunds.com is proactively providing each of the listed sites with a copy of its filing to further support online consumers who might otherwise encounter such fraud”.

Humankind claimed that they did not post fake reviews via GlowingReviews.co, but transcribed and posted reviews left on comment cards at dealerships. In the GlowingReviews.com FAQ recovered from the Web Archive they note that “Every business plays in this grey area and this service just lets you do it much more efficiently”. Regardless, as part of the settlement it appears that GlowingReviews has been shut down.

At Blackhatworld, many bemoaned GlowingReviews downfall.  I particularly liked this comment: Continue reading

New Google Places For Business Listings Can Now Be Transferred to a New Owner via G+ Page Management

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 1 of 3 Make sure you’re using Google+ as your page.

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.

Helpouts – Notes, T’s & C’s: Will Google Keep it Family Friendly? Will They Succeed as the New Hall Monitors?

Screen Shot 2013-09-14 at 9.53.09 AMHelpouts offers up the possibility of an incredible new platform for SMBS to share their knowledge and skills and a new way of marketing those via a Google Helpout Marketplace. Signing up is a snap.

It also offers up an appealing platform for spammers and scammers and con artists. Will Google succeed in keeping it family friendly or will they be excoriated as the new hall monitors (no slouching, no kissing, tuck that shirt in)?

And like with all new markets and marketplaces, some “creative destruction” will take place. Who will be negatively impacted?

The Helpout help files and terms & conditions are now online and here are the highlights:

  • Google will be providing free phone support for Helpouts
  • A transaction fee of 20% will be applied to paid Helpouts.
  • Helpouts requires that Providers on the platform pay a transaction fee for each completed Helpout. If transaction fees are not paid according to the Helpouts Terms of Service, access to Helpouts may be suspended or terminated.
  • Once you submit a Helpouts listing, it’ll go through an apparently individual review process before the listing is public.
  • If you are a providing a medical service (advisory or informational medical services; counseling or therapy services; medical consultation services; or other professional medical services) as a regulated healthcare professional, a third party also will check your certificate or licensure.
  • Your listing will be reviewed and Google will contact you to meet you over video to learn more about you, to discuss setting up a Helpouts listing and to make sure your video is working well.
  • Third party providers, Infinity Contact, Capita Customer Management, and VXI are apparently performing this vetting service.
  • Ask them to send you an email to verify their credentials. Google representatives, like those at these companies, will always have an @google.com email address
  • You only need to be 13 to use the product but need to be 18 to offer services.
  • Helpouts has a 100% Money Back Guarantee within 72 hours of the end of the Helpout.
  • If the Helpout Provider does not issue a satisfactory refund, and the user has complied with Helpouts Terms of Service and policies, Google will issue the refund.
  • Google will use the recording of a Helpout to review each 100% Money Back Guarantee request, if you opt out of having your Helpout recorded, you forfeit your eligibility for the guarantee.
  • Offering services in exchange for positive feedback or other non-financial compensation or using a listing primarily to gain a social network endorsement from the user is forbidden.
  • As are “Scammy, spammy, or otherwise questionable business practices”.
  • No whoring, drugs, dares or contests allowed

Certainly this a new model for Google and the many terms and conditions raise a lot of questions. As Phil Rozek has pointed out, the devil here is most certainly in the details.

Continue reading

How to Delete Your Google Places for Business Dashboard Listing in One Easy Step (Or Brainfarts + Bad UI = Bad Outcomes)

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:

delete-page1
Sometimes small, unclear sentences can have BIG consequences

 

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.

Path: Pages/Manage this page/Settings (scroll to bottom)
Path: Pages/Manage this page/Settings (scroll to bottom)

 

 

Signing Up for Helpouts- It’s a Snap!

Google Helpouts holds out the promise of allowing local consultants, instructors and trainers of projecting to a world wide market and of allowing national vendors of providing individualized support for the customers. As Phil Rozek pointed out in my post highlighting their new marketing effort there is a lot that can go wrong from conception to success not the least of which is Google’s propensity to start a project only to abandon it the next quarter when it didn’t scale to their expectation (despite the fact that they did ZERO marketing…can you say PunchD?).

That being said I thought I would click on the exclusive invitation and see if it let me sign up. It did. I went through the sign up process and I have to say: I am impressed. It literally is a less than 10 minute process and makes getting started very, very easy. (You can request an invitation here.)

If Google can deliver customers via their Helpout marketplace it will open up a whole new way for knowledge workers to deliver value across the world.

Here are the screen shots of the simple 3 step process to set up a Helpout listing (you can apparently have more than one):

 

intro-screen
Introduction Screen
Click to view larger:

 

Continue reading

Google Rolls Out Broader Marketing of Helpouts

Google Helpouts, a G+ based product  “that enables individuals and small and large businesses to buy and sell services via live video” first came to light in early August. It is a fascinating product that creates a video based marketplace that allows  local trainers, national support personnel and consultants to engage a much larger market. It has “the capacity to connect merchants and consumers on both an immediate and scheduled basis, .. the platform will allow sellers to .. take advantage of reputation management, scheduling and payment features, while offering robust search and discovery tools for consumers”.

Apparently Google is now starting to invite highly rated local businesses to learn more about the product. It is odd that the invitation is not to set up or try the product, just to learn more about it and that the invitation was exclusive and based on review ratings. You can request an invitation here.

This email, sent to me by Mark Kelly, CEO of Chair 10 Marketing, Inc:

Screen Shot 2013-09-13 at 1.30.13 PM

Microsoft Buys Nokia – What will become of Navteq/Here?

Microsoft bought Nokia today for $7.2 billion dollars. Nokia, you will recall, bought Navteq in 2007 for $8.1 billion in what was hailed at the time as pivotal move by Nokia into location based services.

But as Horace Dediu pointed out,  by late 2012 Navteq had been losing about $1 billion a year for Nokia and the purchase effectively had cost Nokia’s stock holders $11 billion in total since it had been acquired.  He notes that Google is rumored to be spending a similar $1 billion a year to maintain their Maps data. Tomtom, now worth about $1.5 billion in total, appears to have done little better with their $4 billion TeleAtlas purchase.

Neither company has kept up with Google in the pace of map development and certainly not in the pace of mapping updates. If you have ever had to suggest a map change to either TeleAtlas or Navteq and anticipate the map update, you know that you can get very, very old waiting. Both Google and OpenstreetMap have the ability to get updates through their systems in weeks not months or years. Neither Navteq nor TeleAtlas seem to.

Owning a mapping company has not provided much if any value to the purchasers. And it would appear that the expense of running them has constrained their ability to compete with Google.

Will that continue to be the case going forward? Can Microsoft/Nokia and TomTom extract enough value to continue their expensive and not very successful efforts to maintain the maps? It would seem that the world is not a big enough place to support 3 mapping companies even when the maps are used to support the other sales efforts of their owners. As reader Marc points out, this leaves Here as part of Nokia’s network infrastructure business and a likely drag at that. Hardly a long term match and likely to be spun off and perhaps more appealing to Apple or Samsung. What value could it possibly bring?

And where does that leave Apple? Buying a TeleAtlas a mapping company is one thing, maintaining it is quite another.

Update: Here is Microsoft’s “strategic rationale” vis a vis Here/Navteq:
Screen Shot 2013-09-03 at 11.12.16 AM

Google+ Pages for Local – Which One Is It?

Google is slowly moving towards a G+ local world where there will be two types of G+ Pages for local; claimed and unclaimed.

There will be subtle differences between the claimed pages depending on owner configuration (social or no, video or no, owned by a person or a company) but all G+ Pages for local that are claimed will have the same options available to them. Whew… this reality has been a long time coming but with the recent rollout of the “auto-merge” capability we can start to see the “end game” for these pages (as if Google works with end games).

In the meantime there is a transition going on and many G+ Pages for both in the US and internationally are caught in some intermediate state; old dashboard, new dashboard without social, merged social page with old dashboard etc. It’s important to understand the state because some things are possible in one situation and not in another and some bugs seem to be a function of what the page is and how it was created. For example a business claimed into the old dashboard can be reclaimed by another account but one claimed into the new dashboard can not. That has implications for all sorts of situations now and in the future.

To help you clarify the status of any give page from the outside view I have written a new blog past at Local U to help clarify (yea right clear like mud) the situation :  What Kind of Google+ Page Is It? – A Visual Guide to Google+ Local Pages.

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