Understanding Google My Business & Local Search
G+ – Google Local Divorce Mop Up – Who Got the Kids? Not Sure But the Orphans Have Been Nuked
The estrangement and ugly divorce of Goggle Local from G+ is finally, finally ending with the mop up of the last remaining remnants of the marriage; those many, many G+ Local Pages that got created in the wild passion of their joining.
What always seemed like an unnatural union started going south in 2015 or so. Since then the assets have been split, what functionality Google Local needed from Plus, they created,for the most part1, on their own (improved Insights, Posts2, review links3, description field4 ). This has been a long time in coming with Google having started some of this process in mid 2015, maybe earlier.
Sometime in the last quarter, I received a number of emails from concerned business that Google stopped auto-creating Google Plus pages when a new listing was created in the GMB. Over the past quarter Google apparently nuked the many G+ Pages local pages that were auto created but never used.
In what appears to be a final (or near final… who knows what dependencies5 still exist?) resolution Google has started sending out email alerts to businesses that have not been active on Plus that their pages will be removed if the business does not post something to the page within 30 days of receiving the email.
Email sent courtesy of Group Insurance PDX, an employer benefits consultant in Portland.
1 -One feature that has existed in G+ but has yet to make it over to the new Google local is a mechanism for communicating with a review poster. While this was possible with G+ none of the posters ever read their G+ so it didn’t work but the feature is one well worth re-capturing.
2- The nail in the small business use case for G+ was the fact that the posts were hardly included in search. This small change would have provided a meaningful use case that would have kept Plus alive in the SEO and SMB communities. Posts has become both a great branding tool as well as an effective call to action in the SERPS.
3- By making the review link able to be auto generated and based on Google’s Places ID is one of the factors that has allowed Google to surge ahead in the review race. They are garnering somewhere between 5 and 20 times the volume of reviews as Yelp or Facebook.
4- Description field? WTF?
5- One area that is not clear is whether a solid G+ presence will still be able to influence local search results by impacting relevance.
© Copyright 2023 - MIKE BLUMENTHAL, ALL RIGHT RESERVED.
With brand pages you can “link” them to the local identity with the site url, also the address field. The change has been in effect for quite a while and we still see the SEO results as positive. Great write up Mike!
Thanks for elucidating the relationship. Google rarely throughs a ranking factor away… that being said they do demote them relative to others. Glad you are still seeing a benefit.
I enjoy reading your blog it truly is an excellent local search resource!
I agree with your statement, “The nail in the small business use case for G+ was the fact that the posts were hardly included in search.” I never understood Google’s motivator behind this.
You are also right that Posts are an EXCELLENT branding tool. I hope that more local businesses will catch onto this ‘golden marketing opportunity’. I encourage business owners to use Google Posts to make the listing ‘sexy’ enough to attract customers!
LOL about the description field? I often find myself saying the same thing, can’t wait until Google makes some sense of it all!
Thanks for yet another great update! I’ll be tuning in for Local U’s Week in Review 🙂
Waiting for Google to make sense of it is like waiting for an eternal summer. They function on a different plane than mere mortals and ours is not to reason why.
So true Mike. People sometimes ask me why Google can’t do certain things. There is a misconception that the people at Google are so savy that they can do almost anything. As local marketers we know better, don’t we?
Wouldn’t it be easy for the biggest and smartest searchengine people to catch crap on the map? NO it is not apparently….
As you know, I have explored that question for a long time.
The short is answer that they are savvy and could solve the problem but choose not to do so.
The long answer…
There are 88,110 employees at Google. Roughly half of which are engineers from the top institutions in the world. So on one level they are savvy.
But, and this is a big but, they have a corporate culture that is inculcated with certain values that prevent them from wanting to solve certain problems or perhaps incapable of doing so.
As you saw in their spam research paper, they view the problem from one of scale and relevance. This effectively blinds them to the hyper local reality on the ground. The algo is god and that puts the damper on putting real, trained humans on the task.
Another issue within Google is their cost accounting. Maps and organic search are surely responsible for the massive income of Adwords and yet Maps is seen as a “free” product and thus any infrastructure and engineering time used for the purpose of spam abatement is viewed as an above the line, gross profit impacting, variable expense rather than an investment in the company.
The corporate culture also has two values that impact these outcomes… projects and products are an outcome of small teams with full, independent control AND the desire for these team members to move to different divisions and gain more experience on a regular basis. Within that is the ethos of build quick, release early and reiterate until it’s proved to be useful or a failure and then cut the cord.
The former means that the Maps team comes up with something like Q & A and forget to tell the GMB team about it. That pro
The latter means that if there were someone that was interested in say review spam they were quickly encouraged to move onto another team in another division.
This ethos means that 1)bugs are part of the landscape, 2)it might be updated soon in some sense but 3) that it might very well be cut from herd before the market even knows the product exists.
To a large extent crap on the map is the perfect example of the type of problem that Google COULD solve but chooses NOT to solve for both individual AND corporate reasons.
What is obvious to us, is perceived as a gnat on the butt of an elephant by the Google Gods. Only rarely does the sting of the gnat generate enough pain that someone looks up and says oh, maybe there is a problem… take down that specific spammer so the gnat goes away.
All of this exists within a context of Google success at generating a profit and becoming a monopoly. From a corporate point of view, if not ours, they are doing something right to be that profitable. Their status of being a super aggregator monopolist means that they can create these problems but as long as the problems have no material economic impact, they can ignore them.
I, being ever hopeful, have encouraged, embraced and highlighted other gnats in the hope that a swarm can both identify more problems with the product AND garner more of Google’s ADD rattled attention.
Its been a long slog. And it has become clear during that journey that Google has made an active decision to not solve this problem any more than they already have, IN THE CURRENT CONTEXT.
But Google, as the hegemony, is a context creator, The final outcome may end up being something like Local Services Ads, where the monopolist creates a new market from which they profit by putting trust back into the broken system they created. Ironic eh?
If Google were actually just a TV comedy show, it hard to say whether or not it would be successful. On one hand, it’s just plain comical how badly they do some things. On the other hand, some things are so absurd that a TV show like that might fail because it is odd that it’s not entertaining to watch. You can only suspend your disbelief for so long… unless your business’s life depends upon it, sadly.
Thank you, Mike for the greatest blog post title, ever. It is priceless.
With each GMB change I’ve said (to myself), “well, we’ll see how long this lasts!” I am certain it won’t work and I set about showing myself that I am right. Haven’t been right yet.
And Ashley, as I watch my revenue account increase from sales as a result of my posts – which I immediately set about proving the post would never be seen nor produce anything – I admit defeat once again … happily.
I patiently await your next blog post, Mike. The next change, I’m thinking I’ll just go with it. At the very least, I should stop talking to myself about it. I’m very grateful that I have a listing that is working for me. Also grateful for the clean-up – uh, I mean mop up. 🙂
As the monopolist they are powerful. And betting against them is never a good bet.
They create the reality in which we exist and there is often money to be made on their edges.
I shall keep that in mind while on this journey. I do so enjoy your wise words, Mr. Blumenthal.
Expected move… do you know how to create new brand page on G+? It’s hidden from UI and only way is from here:
Seems that new G+ doesn’t like brands too much and want to fit everything in local. The problem is that this isn’t one-size-fit-all solution and bringing new headache for affected brand pages.
@Peter thanks for the tip. For most small businesses the problem is one of cost benefit and limited resource allocation. For them to get value from Plus is hard and not obvious. Even if the Brand link were not hidden, the other systemic issues make it so.
When I saw the “orphans have been nuked” the first thing I thought of was the non-updated URLs that were still a bit confusing. I’m not seeing those anymore. Mike, my favorite post of yours was “trainwreck at the junction” which I hope has now been all mopped up!
And Google missed the opportunity many years ago to be the leader in reviews. It’s so freaking hard for businesses to get actual customers to write a Google review. Do you think there will ever be the “passion or culture” around reviews on Google as there is on Yelp?
Oh Mike, you just gave Lisa and I a much needed laugh on this gloomy Monday!
How can it be gloomy when we have Google to make fun of (almost every day not just Mondays)?
If I point out a spelling mistake in the first paragraph, will you write an article on a little boutique web design business in Tasmania called Flourish Web Design https://Flourishwebdesign.com.au 🤓
I was left wondering for some time how to use Google+ as a business where the G+ page had been created from GMB. Turns out that they are all housed here: https://myaccount.google.com/brandaccounts.
Do you think that G+ posts, plus ones, shares, or comments still help local business rankings? If so, do any help more than others? And, more importantly, *how much*, if you can quantify in any way, do they help? Or is there a noticeable bump from them?
Google never throws an algo away so I do think that Plus can still influence local relevance (and thus rank). Whether it is the same amount as before or not I do not know but I have several clients doing only Plus and Posts and their rank continues to improve across terms..
As to what is most valuable I would suggest that they are all valuable but if I had to pick one it would be reshares from users that have active followings and are active themselves.
Thanks very much! Not sure whether you will have any idea on this. But we just converted from http to httpS, thus losing old social shares. A couple of years ago we were active on G+. Do you have any idea whether losing shares that old would matter? Thanks again for your great insight!
Social shares from http do transition to https (very slowly) from a 301 redirect. This only works if you either A. Get new social interactions or B. Submit the G+ post URL via GSC.
FYI G+ posts with more that one unique link do not pass social signals (in case you were wondering).
Hi Ben. Thanks very much! Are you saying that *old* G+ shares will transition via 301 redirect, as long as you have new G+ shares? OR do only the new G+ shares count? Also, do you have any idea of the time frame? You said very slowly. I’m wondering how slow is slow. Thanks very much for any further info!!
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