Google Upgrades Its Google Places Dashboard With Google+ Local Integration

google-plus-localGoogle has begun a staged upgrade of its Google Places Dashboard — the backend tool that allows local businesses to manage their business information that appears in Google’s search results. A new dashboard that looks much more like the current Google (and Google+) aesthetic, and also offers some new functionality, will be available “over the coming weeks.”

It’s the latest step in Google’s (very) slow process of updating its business listings management from Google Places to Google+ Local. The consumer side of that switch happened last May, when Google’s local search results and listings became Google+ Local.

But local business owners have been dealing with a messy combination of Google+ and Google Places when managing their business data. (My use of “messy” is too generous; Mike Blumenthal more accurately called it a “train wreck” a few months ago.)

What’s New In The Google Places Dashboard

1.) New look/design.

The design is much more consistent with Google’s current look across most of its products — particularly Google+, with its navigation options in the left-hand column. Here’s a screenshot from Google’s announcement, and I’ve highlighted the menu options in the upper left.


(You can click for a larger version.)

There are separate tabs for managing listing information, a Google+ Local page, AdWords Express ads and Offers. I don’t see a tab for the basic stats and analytics that the existing dashboard offers; those may be rolled into one of the tabs that do show on the image, or they might be getting removed from the dashboard.

2.) More integration with Google products.

As you can see on the screenshot above, this example business has a tab on the left to enable management of its Google+ Local page. More specifically, Google says the dashboard now gives local business owners a way to access the social features of Google+ — “sharing photos, videos or posts.” Local business owners without a Google+ account won’t have that navigation tab in their dashboard.

The current (soon to be old) dashboard offered no such integration with Google+ Local pages. You could update basic business information in the dashboard, but there was no way to post to Google+ from there and no guarantee that even basic edits (like a new phone number) would make their way to the Google+ Local page in any reasonable timeframe. Which leads to another new promise/feature from Google….

3.) Faster updates.

Google is promising faster data updates in most cases:

Most edits made via the upgraded user interface now appear on Google Maps and our suite of other services within 48 hours. As before, we may continue to moderate changes to ensure the highest quality local experience.

There are other features not specifically called out in Google’s announcement; for example, Mike Blumenthal writes that the new dashboard allows service area-based businesses — those that travel to customers instead of having their own location (like plumbers, for example) — to have Google+ Local pages for the first time.

It looks like the new Places for Business dashboard is a step in the right direction, and a welcome one, for sure. But, without being able to actually see how the new dashboard integrates with Google+ Local Pages, I’ll hold off in declaring how big a step it is.

Postscript, April 3: Google employee Joel Headley has written a detailed post in Google’s help forums that explains how different local business owners should respond to this update — i.e., if you’re already using Google+ Local, if you’re completely new to Google’s local services, if you have more or less than 10 locations and so forth.

Related Topics: Channel: Social | Features: Analysis | Google: Google+ | Google: Maps & Local | Top News


About The Author: is Editor-In-Chief of Search Engine Land. His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism. His web career continues to include a small number of SEO and social media consulting clients, as well as regular speaking engagements at marketing events around the U.S. He recently launched a site dedicated to Google Glass called Glass Almanac and also blogs at Small Business Search Marketing. Matt can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee and/or on Google Plus. You can read Matt's disclosures on his personal blog.

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  • Petra Kraft

    Analytics seems to be – like Mike Blumenthal wrote here – on the tab “Insights”

  • Chris Ainsworth

    I think a lot of people will be happy with published updates within 48 hours, but I’ll believe it when I see it. One of my latest updates was a change of address which took around 6 weeks to publish. For local business who often rely heavily on Google Local exposure, 6 weeks for a change of business address is far too long. Clearly Google have realised that so I eagerly await the “faster” updates.

  • robthespy

    Dear Google,

    Some companies have more than one location.

    Thank you.

  • Andy Kuiper – SEO Analyst

    Looking good so far…

  • Chris Leone

    Of all the Google products I’ve worked with over the years, Google Places/Local/whatever they’re calling it today has always been the most frustrating. Updates that take weeks, arbitrarily changing the information in the listings, the hoops we have to jump through to verify multiple locations for a single business…it’s been frustrating :)

    I’m hoping this is one of many steps forward for this platform.

  • Alain Nijholt

    Let’s hope we will get updated soon. Having troubles with showing our map in the serps when people search for BMC Internet Marketing….

  • Casey

    What does this mean for the merged Google+ Local pages? We had been told once you have a merged listing to not use the Places Dashboard any longer.

  • Ricardo Medina

    I’m very happy for this new and love your article.

  • mackarma

    sure hope this will start to sort out what has been huge mess…I have spent lots of time trying to get team to clean up lot of disconnects as they integrate Google+ and Google Local

  • A. Chris Turner

    “Train wreck” was a great description. I still have issues with the verification process and have several listings that are verified but show a pending status. Hopefully these will all be resolved sooner than later with these updates. I will be interested to see what the implementation of these faster (48 hour) update does for the ‘manual’ moderation that often take weeks.

  • Miklin SEO

    Local businesses need to use various listings to improve organic visibility. While Google Places provides a robust geo-targeting tool, it doesn’t cover all the bases, which is why it is important to use Yelp, Angies List, Manta, and local directories when optimizing for a businesses location.

  • gm10

    Matt, thank you for the analysis.

    I’d like to hope that Google has any future in the local search results, but right now things look hopeless. Toss of a coin, throwing darts at the would produce better results.

    Just out of curiosity I checked businesses suggested bu Google’s local search. Out of seven suggested businesses two were fakes created by the same web master. One was irrelevant to the query. The remaining four were mediocre companies getting no respect in local consumer reviews. See for yourself.


  • Jennifer Agrazada-Schreiner

    Why do the updates have to wait 48hours when it can be done within a day?

  • Digibou Marketing

    Overall this is a great improvement in the dashboard. My only worry is that as they update things tend to go wrong. So I am holding off any changes to my clients Google Places pages for the next week, so that everything to settle.

    Even if Google are making us jump through hoops with all of the changes, at least they are changing and listening to what their customers want/need.

  • David Eddy

    Very much looking forward to this rolling out in Australia. The fact that only pre-set categories are allowed is interesting. I think that this gives us another strong indication that Google’s local organic search rankings are customised depending on the category a business falls within, as well as the semantics behind each particular search query. For example, I have a client who runs an air conditioning business. He ranks no.2 in the maps for “air conditioning” when the user’s IP location is set to his local city. However, when you search for “air conditioners” there are no local results to be found organically. The front page is dominated by national air conditioning brands, instead of local air conditioner suppliers. Interesting… and clever!

  • Steve Sharp

    The new format looks like another thing to keep up with to me. Now have
    to decide do I want to post to my Personal Google+ or Google+ Local

  • Ryan Key

    Finally, it’s been forever since they have updated this aspect of local search marketing. Really needed this update, was tired of Google Places dashboard.

  • Abdul Wahab

    You can add sub-offices. There is not that kind of issue.

  • Ian Smith

    Yep – here’s hoping

  • California SEO Pros

    48 hours, well right now I’m at about 2 weeks for a client. The odd part is with the address change it seem Google created a Google+ page for the new address in that time, so now there are two.

  • David M. Higgins II

    We have a G+ page for our business. We recently found the Google Local page. We requested the verify code, received it, and are now able to manage the page. How do we merge them.

  • Ian Smith

    The whole thing is still a shambles, no? Will it ever get resolved? This has been a mess for 2 years or so??

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