Google My Business – Let’s Not Stop Here – My Wish List for Upgrades

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).

01- Welcome ScreenObviously 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:

Things to deliver immediately:

– Cover photo control.

The new My Business dashboard does a great job of educating the business about data and images that need to be added and yet it is completely silent about the cover photo for their G+ Page. It appears that the only way to still change it is via the actual page itself. It requires an extra effort, several steps and more importantly additional knowledge that the business owner is unlikely to have. Minimally an assist button could be added that takes them to the page and tells them to upgrade. Better yet to integrate it fully integrate it into the new editing environment. Besides the profile photo it is the most important visual enhancement that a business can add to their page and I am tired of looking at the waves of yellow and blue default image for the page.

A corrolary to that would be to return to the Map image for the cover photo as the default. It is information rich, aesthetically pleasing and provides a unique differentiator from the Brand page. Verifying a listing should not degrade the visuals as it currently does.

Improved Index of Pages under management

Index page takes forever to load. Aargh
Index page takes forever to load. Aargh

If you have more than several pages under management in your account I find that the cover page is very cumbersome to navigate. If you have more than a web page worth of G+ Pages it takes FOREVER for the additional pages to load so you can find that one page that seems to always be at the end. Minimally allow us to reorder the pages so that we can put the most frequently visited near the top. The newly created and deceased Places Dashboard had a nice rollup display that allowed for quick loading and relatively easy transition between pages. Give us that page or an option to do something similar.

I know that is a drop down menu in the upper right that offers a little bit of this functionality but with multi location listings and brand pages mixed in, its hard to know what you are looking at so that you can pick the right one or get to the right place.

– The ability to move quickly move between listings –

Bulk has the ability to jump right from within one listing to the next built into the interface and that works really well. Unfortunately the Bulk back end and the rest of the interface sucks so even if a client has 10, 20, 30 or even 40 listings I often recommend the My Business dashboard instead. And SABs with lots of locations CAN’T use the bulk interface.

So I can’t be the only user that would like to be able to move between listings and particularly between subpages of listings. For example I should be able be in the analytics page of one listing and move directly to the analytics page in the next listing without having to go all the way out and in again.

In fact I saw in the recently deceased Places for Business Dashboard a metaphor that would have worked for both single listings and bulk listings. There is no reason that a good interface couldn’t scale to do both things. Why learn two interfaces?

– Better local analytics

While the social analtyics are an improvement there have been lots of calls over the past few days for better even social analytics but what SMBs really need is better tracking of goals and conversions to a sale. KPIs and conversion goals are just not on their radar and should be. We know Google is tracking all sorts of things around the local listings, share some of that love with us. How many clicks to calls? What hours were the driving directions used? SMBs could be guided into this more sophisticated approach to tracking their traffic and customers.

– New Review Alerts-

shoot-footSince Google released the very nice Review monitoring capability, an obvious but missing feature would be to proactively alert the business about new reviews. Not just Google reviews either, include reviews from around the web in this effort. This huge benefit to the SMB would also increase on-going engagement with the dashboard.

One downside to this is in giving the capability for SMBs to respond to reviews via mobile in near real time may led to SMBs regularly responding first and thinking later. Not a pretty picture. 🙂 We will need a triage team on hand to deal with the many self inflicted foot injuries.

Medium Term fixes:

– A smoother upgrade path from the analytics card for dummies in the dashboard to the full analytics.

Google analytics has a daunting interface. I love the card summary in My Business but once an SMB clicks from there into the full analytics the choices must be overwhelming… Its as if you are walking up a gentle incline learning about your internet marketing in the My Business dashboard and then forced to scale the face of the Matterhorn to get to the next level.

Even if Google preinstalled some locally oriented custom dashboards in the full analtyics and took SMBs there it would be a start in the right direction. Taking a small business owner directly into the full analtyics is like throwing a roman slave into the pit with the lions. A few come out alive but not many.

-Add more paid and free marketing capability to the dashboard.

Google axed what was a very slick self provisioning Offer/Coupon product. (They have also axed Zavers, PunchD and a few I can’t remember). I don’t see how they could have evaluated its likelihood of success in the old dashboard, a place that no one visited on a regular basis. There was no reason to. And the coupons created were not surfaced in any way that would have increased user uptake. They were buried in Maps. Now that there are a growing number of reasons for regular visits to the dashboard, give SMBs more of these sorts of products and better ways to surface them (ie via the knowledge panel on the front page of Google). You (Google) will find significant uptake.

-Further integration with Google products.

Why not integrate with Google calendar for example and offer a free or low cost way to schedule appointments that would text out appointment reminders (like Hangouts).

Or even give them access to sophisticated tools like Google Survey for consumer analysis?

-Additional transactional opportunities.

Google has the scale to bring local transactions to many local SMBs at a very low cost. There are many opportunities here that would be a good fit. And local businesses would benefit if the price is low enough.

OK that’s enough for now. Here’s hoping that the next major (or even minor) upgrade to Google’s local product doesn’t take 7 years.

What would you like to see? I figure we better ask while the irons hot.

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Google My Business - Let's Not Stop Here - My Wish List for Upgrades by

19 thoughts on “Google My Business – Let’s Not Stop Here – My Wish List for Upgrades”

  1. Hello Mike! Excellent article! I especially liked your thoughts about improving the local analytics. I think this one could actually help not only SMB owners but Google my business as a brand. I think it will increase to a great extent the benefit Google My Business offers to SMB owners. Thus, more business owners and marketers will be motivated to exploit Google local services. This in turn will lead to increased database for Google and more profits from Adwords.

  2. Mike:

    My one comment would simply be that Google has shown itself to be an entity that hoards information and tends to hide what is truly valuable. It is nice to “want” better analytics.

    The entire world of web publishers want better analytics.

    It would be powerful to continue to call out for better analytics. Google has and controls more analytical information about the traffic to every business and every website than any other source. It has purposefully hidden it for years.

    Keep calling out for better analytics. That would be a huge gift to myriads of businesses.

    1. @Dave and Mohamed you are right, asking for and getting better analytics is important. And it always the right time to ask for more.

      But yours and Mohammed’s needs are somewhat different than that of the SMB that this product was meant to serve. In this case Google has the opportunity to “assist, suggest and inform” (their language)and no one needs that more than the SMB around KPIs, conversion goals, measurement etc. Google has huge opportunity hear to nudge, cajole, drag the typical SMB in the world of measurement. What a huge benefit that would be.

  3. As I posted on previous post this is frustrating every time Google makes a change I expect to have better insights especially for page analytics : even they posted a PDF with explanation : there’s audience, engagements and views. But they never mentioned clicks which is the most valuable KPI for us as Local SEOs. We should bring that to their attention otherwise we’ll wait a couple of years …

    1. @Mohammed
      I would suggest that both driving directions and more importantly calls are better KPIs for a local business than clicks. What is more valuable than a customer driving up to a client’s location? And what is almost as good? A call. To me a click through, while good, it is still several levels too far away from the conversion.

  4. Good list, Mike! I like (and really want) review notification suggestion. Should be there.

    Google My Business is the phone or operating system.
    G+ page, Reviews, Analytics, etc are app on that phone.
    Thinking of it that way – I would love to see this:

    1. Coupons/Offers app, as you mentioned.

    2. Google Wallet app
    Since Google wants to get into payment market – why not help business owners integrate Wallet with their business somehow (they need to get that product in shape though).

    3. Helpouts app
    Speaking of Wallet – here’s one application. Some businesses can use Helpouts to do e-commerce/consultation/lessons & accept Wallet payments. They already have Hangouts here – ability to do a video call and, say, show inside the house you’re selling (real estate). Helpouts are one step away.

    4. Webmaster Tools app
    Now that Google My Business includes all pages, brand and local, this app is relevant. It’s especially helpful for big/brand sites. Can even have a suite of “Website Tools” – Analytics, Webmaster Tools, etc

    5. Google Apps for Business
    Why not integrate Google Drive & Docs, Email, Calendar and other things here? Why not?

    6. Google Sites app
    If I were Google and wanted to promote my “build your website for free” – I’d have that option there as an app too.

    There’s SO MUCH potential with this “dashboard” now. The potential of possible things to do is unlimited now. Just like your ability to add apps on your smartphone.

    1. @Max
      Your metaphor of the OS is a good one… I think of it as a platform… potato, pootato…its a great place to really help the SMB move forward with their local marketing.

  5. All great ideas Mike!

    When my account was upgraded pre-launch I realized that before I did screenshots for my announcements I needed to pretty up my G+ Local page which had a bad case of cobbler’s shoes and had been neglected for far too long.

    I fought for hours with images and almost tore my hair out. If I was an SMB I would have just given up. It was so frustrating. Forgot to give that feedback to Google because it happened over the weekend. A few of the problems I ran into could have been pre-launch bugs but still the whole thing is not as easy and intuitive as it needs to be for low tech business owners.

    So one of the 1st improvements I’d recommend is to improve the whole image management functionality including, as you said, the cover image piece.

    BUT gotta give credit where credit is due and images are uploading faster now with fewer problems with the missing image icons – so kudos to the team for working on the back end image upload issues!

    The second suggestion of yours I’d vote for next is review notification. That would be hugely appreciated by SMBs and is a much requested feature.

    They could start simple and do Google reviews 1st if it’s easier to implement and then maybe do 3rd party later. But Google review notification should be pretty high up on the list and I know they are aware how much it’s needed.

    1. @linda
      I agree that image management has been a mess and still needs work. Better guidance, better integration and most importantly better control by the business of what shows up where.

      Greg Gifford noted that he thought that was improving and my leaving it out was an oversite.

  6. @Mike

    I’ll cast my vote for these 3 items, though I like your entire list.

    map image for cover image
    better local analytics
    review alerts

    The cover image thing is the reason much of my hair is leaving. And for the life of me, given all the other stuff they email me about, why can’t we have review alerts?

    An item for the long term wish list is instant video. Imagine, the SMB sits down in front of their computer, and assuming they have a camera set up, they push one button to start recording a video that can be immediately uploaded to their page (should they so choose). As in … “Record a video message for your customers.”

  7. @bill

    The instant video idea is brilliant. It never occurred to but the iPhone does such a great job and integrating that right into the mobile app would be amazing. I vote for that idea!

  8. Wow, this is a great thread. Many things have been touched upon. Google is all about local & personalization (when appropriate).

    The long-term possibilities are very interesting. Incorporating Google Wallet and a CRM interface within the back-end could lead to a workflow system that businesses may adopt on a mass scale.

    This would also require some type of direct communication between business and consumer besides reviews. This can likely be already done with maximizing use of circles, but too complex for business owners to adopt themselves on a mass scale.

  9. @James
    A product that Google bought and still supports along those lines is TalkBin… a text based feedback system that would integrate nicely.

    Unfortunately they shit canned a very nice loyalty program called PunchD that I thought had great potential for post sale follow up as well.

  10. I would like to see better integration of images from Picasa and other cloud based storage. Would like easier upload features besides computer saves and uploads?

    Amazing brains on this stream!

  11. All great suggestions Mike. I also noticed the issue with the Cover Photos. At first I couldn’t figure out if I was just blind and missing something or if the infallible Google could actually make a mistake. This should be a simple fix so I’m sure it will be updated soon. Glad to see I wasn’t the only person bothered by this.

  12. @Scott well spoted even internal link “You currently have fewer than 10 locations. My Business Locations is designed for managing 10 or more locations. If you manage fewer, use My Business.” is ponting to same URL. It’ a work in progress!
    @Mike when I speak about clicks I need to have ACCURATE data about clicks to website, direction and phone We’ll avoid then Call tracking solutions that harm Local SEO. Also as mentioned by @Dave, local insights show for one client 2000 clicks to website but only 20 visits via referrer in Google Analytics : So what’s the reference ?? Since Google Maps, we’ve been complaining about data accuracy and with new roll up 5 years later still same concern !!

  13. If all of these wishes are addressed properly by Google My Business team then we would be getting more robust, fast, intuitive and productive tool for our businesses. But among all these points, I expect, first and foremost they should take necessary measures to make the analytics much better and more result oriented. SMBs are more interested to know their goal conversions.
    Personally I hope that some of these will be implemented in coming years by Google and another thing – I expect, without introducing another new interface/tool they would be improving their current Google My Business in future.
    Btw. there is a spelling mistake in this article – “singe listings and bulk listings”.
    Thanks for sharing and wishing these for us.

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