Understanding Google My Business & Local Search
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).
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:
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 –
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-
Since 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.
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