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Understanding Google My Business & Local Search

From Google Local to the World

1)Be sure to edit the local listing and include the relevant business categories

For those of you that are new to Google Local this might not seem obvious how to do. If you have just one business your can edit the business listing that appears in Google Local in one of several ways, neither of which is totally obvious or readily available.

Edit this business imageWay one (the long way) is to find the business record via the main Google Search window…search on your business name and local information (either the zip code or city, state) and then drill down into the record via the “More local results” link. From there select your record from the list, and then drill into the “bubble” and on into the details area of your record. At the bottom you will find an “Edit this listing” link. The other (much shorter) route is to go to the Google Business Center. If you didn’t know to look for this link, it would be less than obvious to most business owners. The third way is to use GoogleBase to upload a list of locations (if you have more than 10. Again a solution that is not particularly market accessible)

The question that cropped up after I articulated this process to myself was : Why is this so hard to get to?

I ran a mind experiment and came up with some interesting ideas and speculation. Is Google incompetent? Do their engineers not know about accessibility? Do they not understand interface design? Do they not want this to be popular. Clearly they have brilliant engineers, some of the most accessible information in the world and they know what it takes to have a popular website (to say the least)

The answer that made the most sense: Google doesn’t really want it to be too readily accessible.

Then the question became why. They clearly are looking to develop local information. They are attempting to develop a level of granularity that takes the user right down to not only the storefront but the item in the storefront.

Which started me thinking about recent Google “metabehavior”…
– They merged Google Local into Google Maps
_ They basically closed Froogle and took over its functionality with Google Base
– They have recently started putting both more local information & shopping information onto the main real estate…..
– They have partnered with a number of entities (Better Business Bureau, The Talking Phone Book, Mobil guide) that have a presence on the ground that now do data entry

They could have easily marketed Froogle as a stand alone entity, they could have left it as is….instead they just shut it down and moved it over to Google Base….

My theory? Froogle was too limiting to their global vision. It required that for information to be there it had to come from an existant e-commerce site (Interent commerce is still small potatoes compared with traditional retail).

While it was reasonably big in the shopping search world, Froogle was ultimately small compared to having all the items for all of the stores both locally and nationally readily available from a single, simple search interface.

Which brings me somewhat circuitously back to why the access to the business center is somewhat obtuse. They are striving for a system that offers data integrity and can work for everything with a single (relatively) simple interface on both the search side and the input side.

Google does not want to be in the data creation business. However structured data can become messy very quickly. Google is trying to guarantee that it stays clean and have some measure of being self correcting. They have organizations on the ground checking veracity and having a vested interested in posting (i.e. The Talking Phone Book). They are working towards their vision of detail down to the item level in that local storefront. They just do not want the whole world to be able to easily muck it up.

The price of admission is a modicum of knowledge and the desire to dig enough that you can finally find the input screen.