Understanding Google My Business & Local Search
Google My Business iPhone App Now Available
The last leg of the cross platform rollout of My Business is complete- Google announced that Apple just made the iPhone My Business app available in the App Store. With this release Google now gives the SMB the ability to access My Business from the desktop, Android or iPhone.
The iOS app (available hereL http://goo.gl/Df7kxX) and the Android app (available here http://goo.gl/i6Yybe) are mostly at parity with the desktop version. They provide the ability for a business to edit the business listing (change hours, description etc.), view (but not add) managers, post to Plus, add photos, view local insights, switch pages and accounts and even change the cover and profile photos. That last one seems a bit odd but its in there even if hard to find.
The interface makes effective use of the card metaphor to allow relatively easy editing and uploading of most things. And it even allows a deep drill into the Local insights with as much detail and as many options as the desktop version.
Missing are the add on applications like reviews, Adwords Express and a summary card of full Google Analytics. A minor annoyance is if you have links in your business introduction, you must know HTML to do the edits. None of these are show stoppers by any means and most of these missing items are hardly noticeable with the exception of review monitoring. Google has indicated that is on the way at some point.
The iPhone product works well. The interface is accessible and useful.Sharing is front and center
Obviously much of an SMB’s basic information doesn’t change from week to week. There is no review feedback and most don’t yet appreciate the analytics. With the missing review monitor and the failure of insights as a hook for most SMBS one assumes that Google’s goal in this version is to encourage the SMB to post social content.
Most SMBs don’t have the time or the inclination to post to a social network. Besides adding additional reasons that would attract different types of businesses to this app, getting those who have claimed their listing with Google to post is really Google’s biggest challenge.
There is not yet a totally compelling reason for most businesses to do so. Google has started to give local businesses a reason – the ability to have recent posts show up on the front page of the search results in a business Knowledge Panel. And certainly it is nice seeing Google increase reach for social postings while Facebook is limiting it.
But Google needs to take this whole project further than that if there is to be a groundswell of adoption. There are still multiple barriers to that need to be removed.
Google needs to help local businesses attract truly local followers. This product is only going to work if the business can target users in their own market. Expecting every business to do that work both unassisted and uneducated is a lot to ask and there is no clear path that Google has provided them. I have yet to find one local bricks and mortar business that has leveraged Plus to truly target local customers effectively and for this product to really work that seems a necessary condition. This is true on both the social and search sides of the equation.
There also need to be clear an visible impacts for the business that does partake of Google’s social kool-aid. For example, Google has to make it less unpredictable whether a local Knowledge Panel will actually show for any given business in the main search results.
And finally, last but by no means least now that Google has rolled out a product that is a usable and friendly SMB product they need to shout it from every roof top. And this should go beyond marketing to current local dashboard users and followers on Plus.
They have made significant technical investments in the product and now need to move to the media and outreach phase. Pitching this product to the Plus converted will not give the product the additional reach that it needs to succeed.
Some additional screen shots: