Google’s recent My Business rollout puts a very strong product in the hands of the SMB – mobile social posting to business pages, additional social analytics, easy to update local information. It finally solves most of the issues that have haunted Local since 2011. If it isn’t obvious I think it is a well done, forward facing product with legs. And one that, unbeknownst to many, was one of modern computing’s most amazing technical pivots (but that is a tale for another day).
Obviously Google is allocating significant resources to My Business. Given a taste of what it can be I now want more (ah the curse of rising expectations). There are still a few things that need to be fixed and some features that I would love to see added sooner rather than later.
Here is my wish list:
Today, Google is rolling out Google My Business – a significant small business upgrade to Google Places and Plus. After multiple years of struggle in upgrading Places and merging local into Plus, Google is finally nearing the point where they have a solid platform addressing the needs of small businesses.
My Business is currently rolling out world wide to 236 countries in 65 languages. According to Google, this is their biggest merchant facing launch ever. The product will be simultaneously fully functional on the desktop, Android and iOS once the rollout is completed over the next few days. The Android app should be in the Android store and the iOS app will be available once it is approved by iTunes. From Google’s point of view, the rollout reflects a huge investment in the SMB space and a strong foundation for coming developments.
- A single business facing brand that consolidates social and places messaging.
- An updated interface for editing all Plus Page types.
- Full intergration of Places and Plus.
- A unified Portal with access to other Google business tools for the SMB.
- A platform for future development.
What it isn’t
It isn’t an upgrade that most very large location based companies will be able to take advantage of. The Bulk dashboard is just starting the transition and bulk users have the pain of the change over to the new backend still ahead of them.
This upgrade does not focus on, in fact it may even minimize, the more social, recreational uses of Plus.
Brand – MyBusiness to the rescue
Google’s branding of their SMB facing products has been in crisis since the rollout of Plus. The consumer side Places brand fell by the way side, there was no name given to the local products in the interim and that loss of a branded entity and conflation with Plus left businesses confused. Google had no way to communicate where and what a business should be doing on Google. MyBusiness solves the communication dilemma.
The branding mishegas with the transition away from Places was confounded by the complexities of the back end transition from Places to Plus. Google roled out a new, updated Places in April of 2013 dashboard to sit side by side with the Plus dashboard. Businesses that had claimed their listings in the old dashboard were left with a partially functioning product as Google slowly transitioned them to the new dashboard.
To confuse the issue even more a business could verify their business in Plus as well as Places. Even with the rollout in spring 2013 of the obviously interim Places dashboard, businesses were left confused by the choices, options and rules. Once listings had been moved into the new dashboard many businesses found that they had both a Plus Brand page and a Plus local page causing further confusion.
The new unified sign up process and verification process makes it clear (at least to storefront and service area businesses) which page they should choose
A unified Portal – one place where you can get most things done
The new location dashboard becomes a single place to see not just Plus and Places information but to start interacting with other of Google’s business products like analytics and business view.
According to Google most users of Places and Plus local pages has been the single location business. For that target this interface succeeds very well. There are drop down menus to make most parts of the dashboard immediately available. There are cards to suggest features like analytics and Adwords express if the business doesn’t have them and summary cards of both if they do.
What it isn’t –
In being very small business focused in seems to reposition Plus as a small business platform, at least for the time being. Both large location businesses and casual users seem to have been ignored.
This focus is primarily on the single location business. In doing so anyone that has to manage multiple pages and or locations is still confronted with the slow and tedious card selection metaphor to pick the correct page and get into the location or page dashboard. This interface, works ok with 2 or 3 pages but once you exceed the visible on screen area it becomes tedious very, very quickly. While a single user can manage 100 businesses via this interface, they may commit suicide in doing so.
Bulk upload is still is a work in progress and this upgrade doesn’t affect the shortcomings in that interface or process.
Brands still have no way to have a single stream across multiple locations nor to easily manage the social presence of multiple pages. Long a promised feature (link) this is a glaring hole in Google’s Plus strategy.
Clearly Google has been working on the (painful?) transition from the old bulk dashboard to the new, more and more of late. Hopefully this portends a future where all of the above failings are addressed.
The recreational and entertainment uses of Plus seem to have been pushed aside in the rebranding if not in a technical sense then at least in a communication sense. Plus users that goto put their local soccer club on Plus may very well be confused by the language as they now fall into the “Brand” page category. Whether this reflects a long term pivot or a short term oversite is unknown.
A platform for future development
For the past 2 years, Google local has been in various stages of being a mess. The complexities of moving millions of businesses to a new platform all the while rebuilding the underlying architecture and inputs have been immense. With this rollout, Google is effectively declaring that the transition is over and they are ready to start delivering SMB solutions on a regular basis.
OK Big Earl and his staff are cretins. That can be agreed.
They have managed, by virtue of being outspoken, bigoted and unthinking, to have put themselves in the middle of a media maelstrom and a subsequent flame war in the world of reviews.
The story, first reported by KLTV on May 27th, noted that a gay couple had fallen prey to the posted anti gay policy of the restaurant:
That waitress who used a derogatory term is Earl’s daughter.
“She’s a young lady, didn’t know what else to say, and they just kept on and she finally said we just don’t like fags,” he[r father] explained.
The story went viral, hitting most online news services earlier this month. While the reporting has died down, the review war seems to be just starting up. And yesterday it was reported that Yelp had publicly declared that these types of reviews were going to be taken down.
I looked at how many old reviews existed before the incident and how many new reviews were placed after the incident and whether they were supportive or not of Big Earl.
|Total Visible||5 star New||1 Star New||Removed||Old Reviews|
The stats are interesting and say a lot about the review world that we currently live in. People obviously have no qualms about expressing their opinions about a political issue via reviews. And as you can see on their Facebook page, have no qualms calling each other names in a public forum.
Clearly due to Yelp’s demographics, they are first place where a protest review of this sort might go and it’s apparently on the order of 5X more likely a spot than Facebook and 10X more likely than Google. Tripadvisor, YP.com and Superpages are also rans in this race.
Also it is interesting that of the 930 reviews removed by Yelp I only saw one favoring Big Earl (to be honest I got tired of looking after checking several hundreds of them). This would jive with my research indicating that Yelpers are younger and more urban and obviously in strong support of gay rights.
Facebook, while not having anywhere near the volume of reviews of Yelp, certainly had many more review comments and of the three sites they had the most supporters on a % basis of Big Earl. It is also intriguing that there were more reviews there than at Google. It could very well be that when no one was looking Facebook has built out a decent sized review corpus. Uncurated for sure and perhaps less than stellar quality but big none the less.
( Note: I am unable to load the page this am so perhaps it has been taken down?)
Google users seem to skew closer to Yelp than Facebook in political view. Although because of the lack of transparency of their filter we don’t really know if any reviews have yet been pulled downs.
Update 6/6 1:45 PM: Dave spotted the fact that Google has removed most of the reviews as of noon today. Interesting that they left 3 new reviews and removed the one review from a year ago. The 3 reviews they left are all somewhat suspect.
It would appear, although it isn’t certain in Google’s case, that most of the review sites have not removed these reviews.
It certainly raises some interesting questions:
Should review sites be used as a political forum?
Should these obviously political reviews be left to stand regardless of the fact that they never visited the business?
Does it make sense, as a political act, to use reviews as a forum?
What should the review sites do in response to a situations like this?
I certainly have my own opinions on these issues but I would love to hear yours. So before you read on, take a moment and think about what you think makes sense in the review world for readers, for the sites themselves and for any political/social movement that might think about using reviews in this way…..
Google has been rapidly adding these direct answer knowledge graph results to top of the search results over the past few months. They have added Menus, Geometry Answers, Nutrition and sports answers amongst others within the past few months. These are on top of the previously added Map inserts, air travel and other inserts added over the past few years. This could add additional fuel to the Google anti-trust case in Europe if it roles out more widely.
An interesting side note noted by Brian is that Google’s code identifies the result as a knowledge graph result: div class=”_iL kno-fb-ctx knowledge-embedded_video_result__/*
To see the results search on: florida sex crime lawyer
Video inserts appear to be new at least to me. Have you seen these elsewhere?
Google has announced today in the forums the ability to upgrade Branded G+ Pages to Local G+ Pages. Read all of the details at the LocalU Blog: Google Now Allows Brand Pages to Become Google+ Local Pages.
It is a dramatic presentation on the desktop.
And even more so on mobile.
Will Google soon be selling competitors space in branded knowledge panels?
While at SIINDA conference, Google was an obvious point of reference and conversation both in the formal sessions and the informal discussions afterwords.
One number that was bandied about was the total number of currently verified local business listings worldwide. While I have no way to independently verify the number of 20 million verified listings, as Google has not confirmed it, the number noted seemed credible and reasonable. Roughly 20% of all of the world’s businesses as of last November.
Google has chosen to not publicly share this number since December of 2011 when the number of claimed listings was 8 million.
How does this compare to Facebook? Continue reading How Many Businesses Have Verified G+ Pages for Local?
I am just returning from the SIINDA conference in Budapest. SIINDA is the newly formed association born out of the combined efforts of the EASDP, the European Association of Search and Database Publishers (YPs), and EIDQ, the Association for the Directory Information. Most of the attendees at the conference were Yellow page companies that were in various states of conversion from print to digital. Many were fairly far along and appeared to be succeding with the transition. It was an incredible personal AND work learning experience.
One of the speakers was Karen McGrane, who if you haven’t followed you should. She has really thought through the idea of systems to allow content to be re-purposed and right purposed. A critical question for any pre-digital organization that is sitting on a ton of great content as well as new media companies.
Interestingly Apple had three people in attendance (but not speaking) at the conference including one from Cupertino that joined Apple from Locationary. When I asked several of the Apple employees if their attendance was an indication of coming activity on the local front I was obviously answered with non answers. Equally interesting though was when I broached the topic with several of the participants (mostly data providers) and they also felt compelled to note that they were unable to respond. Hopefully Apple is picking up some decent local POI data sets that will make their product more useful in Europe.
Continue reading Some Thoughts on the YP industry & Google in Europe
Nicolai Helling of the United Digital Group is reporting on Google Plus the upgrade of the Bulk Upload to allow multiple administrators. Apparently this upgrade will add full social functionality as well (the link from the help file is currently not working).
- Manage access to your locations by adding and removing managers and transferring location ownership – New!
- Make updates and posts to your customers using the Google+ page for your location – New!
I have not seen this new feature in dashbaords that I have access to. Here is his post in its entirety:
- Multi-Admin for Google Places Bulk Upload becomes reality
With the ability to enable companies to upload location data in a corporate Google account and then authorize another Google account to manage a single location, a feature is going live that has been awaited for a decade in local search!
This development was preceded by lots of smaller changes to the bulk upload tool, that had been long treated as an unwanted offspring. But as the demand from local search experts and businesses for a more robust Google Places bulk upload backend had steadily increased, this step was somewhat overdue.
It is noteworthy that users using the bulk upload have to wait, until Google changes the account to an upgraded account. A good indication for an upgraded account are the new owner status icons in the backend (see attached screenshot).
With the ability to have multiple admins the bulk upload will also use the rights management architecture and the “one claim rule” that is already in use for listings in the Google+ backend and for manually verified locations in the regular Google Places for Business Center.
So to be clear at this point: A company can now upload and manage up to 10.000 locations in one corporate Google account and remains in full control over each listing by adding and removing other Google accounts (i.e. store managers) for single locations at the same time.
There has been an update to the announcement page (https://support.google.com/business/answer/6002011?hl=en)
It now lists:
Manage access to your locations by adding and removing managers and transferring location ownership – New!
as a new feature for upgraded accounts!
There is also a new help page about adding and removing admins: https://support.google.com/business/answer/4669095?hl=en
And a new help page about transferring account management (i.e. using a different Google account for managing bulk uploads): https://support.google.com/business/answer/4669093?hl=en
And a new one about transferring ownership on a per location basis: https://support.google.com/business/answer/4669094?hl=en
And another one about requesting ownership on a per location basis: https://support.google.com/business/answer/4646651?hl=en
I think Google is getting serious!