• Guest

    I was really hoping for some features for parent-child management (e.g. franchises, chains, multi-location shops)   Franchisees need access to review replies and other profile changes, but franchisors need control of the brand and ability to remove a location that violates their franchise marketing agreements.

  • http://www.jordankasteler.com/ Jordan Kasteler

    Worth noting this to the 97% reference - 
    http://www.screenwerk.com/2011/10/25/a-powerful-incorrect-stat-97/

  • http://twitter.com/laurenpolinsky Lauren Polinsky

    Regarding your Step 5 recommendation – fill the page with content – how do you propose Webmasters do this? There’s almost no content controlled by Webmasters anymore. The Custom Attribute fields have been stripped from bulk uploads.  Additionally, the “From the Owner” block on the new page is now cut down to less than 200 characters. Other than the NAP there’s nowhere on these new Google+ Local pages for Webmasters to control.

    And speaking of your Step 3 recommendation – use logos & good images – we updated all of our photos about 1-2 months ago. All of my locations have been updated, but only in the Places Admin. The users are still seeing my old, outdated photos on the Google+ Local listings. 

    I think Google+ Local is definitely pushing Google+ on people so that Google can claim that their platform is getting more popular, more used, and more helpful. I don’t think their desire to get that to happen is going to change, so I’m sure we’ll see more integrated into Google+ (like YouTube, Shopping…). Currently though, as a Webmaster, Google+ is really ticking me off.

  • Chad Williams

    I can tell you that having managed several small business clients, the change to Google+ is not being well received. I see it as a step in the wrong direction. Most small business owners are still trying to figure out how to use established social networks like Facebook to promote their businesses and many were not familiar with Google Places, much less Google+. Anything that makes it harder (and yes this does) for local business owners to use is a detriment to local search quality. Business owners don’t adapt to new technology nearly as quickly as Google does. Personally, I’m not a fan…

  • NateBagley

    Making it different doesn’t necessarily make it harder. There are a lot of cool things about the new G+ Local that local businesses could really take advantage of (moreso than Facebook or Twitter). Having worked with a lot of SMBs, I find that many times it’s more a matter of attitude than difficulty. 

    It’s easy to complain when things change (see: all the “bring back the old Facebook” groups every time they do a redesign). It’s another thing to embrace the change and roll with it because in the long run, there’s a strong possibility that it might be better.. 

  • Chad Williams

    It’s true, I’m all for SMBs getting on board with the latest and greatest online tools for their business, and attitude is typically a major hurdle. But I think Google went too far with Google+ Local. Their support for SMBs in Google places has never been much to rave about, and even as an experienced internet marketer, I find it difficult to implement many of the new changes much less get help from Google when a question or issue arises. If this was a something like changing over to FB’s timeline, I wouldn’t see reason for complaint. Instead, Google is asking, or rather requiring every SMB owner to adopt an entirely new social media platform and get all of their customers on board just in order to properly interact with local search. Noble goal, but too much of a reach for most SMBs.   

  • NateBagley

    Their support for SMBs in Google places has never been much to rave about, and even as an experienced internet marketer, I find it difficult to implement many of the new changes much less get help from Google when a question or issue arises.

    I’ll definitely give you that. Support and glitches abound. Google Places was never fun to work with.

    The bright side is that (other than updates to G+ meant to improve UX) I don’t see any major overhauls in Google’s near future. G+ was meant to unite all of Google’s services under one banner. Once SMB’s understand G+ Local, they won’t have to learn anything drastically new for quite some time… not to mention G+ will probably pay off much more quickly and consistently than Facebook or Twitter ever would.I’d rather optimize and maintain a G+ profile than try to build a following from scratch on any other social network any day. At least Google will drive traffic to a well-executed G+ page…

    Regardless, it will be really interesting to see how it pans out over the next few months with business owners.

  • http://twitter.com/beneficialfunk Beneficial Function

    There’s no way that Google was thinking of business other than as numbers to pad their G+ stats when they thought up Google+ Local. Almost everything about G+ is designed as a tool to force or bribe people into joining (ok, so almost everything web product works that way, but for Google to leverage already decent products into G+ feeders is pretty aggressive). I mean, come on–pasting Zagat’s ratings (which generally appear favorable when compared to the star system) are just a way to make businesses want to join up.

    All in all, I have to say congrats to Google. They’ve got some really innovative ways to attract marketers and SEOs hungry for rankings to their platform. That’s really going to appeal to the masses–I can’t wait to join a social network in which a) none of my friends take part, and b) is full of advertising and link bait content!!

  • Joe Snowdon

    As a manager for a local service business I can say this move by Google is hurting us. The number of ill-conceived, contradictory, half-considered, partially implemented notions in G+ Local ties up any attempt to interact with our business listing or customers in balls of muck and mire. My competitors who have ignored their Google+ listings are doing great: their customers are reviewing them and the reviews show up, their customers are adding photos and the photos show up, and they show up high in organic search results on both the Google SERP and the Google Maps results pages. I made the mistake of claiming my Local listing. Now, even though the rules say I must mask my location because we serve customers at their homes the listing won’t show my service area. It actually still shows my physical address, which is fine, but it is against Google’s own rules. To make matters worse, because we have phone numbers in a range of local exchanges to make reaching us easier for our customers, Google tries to put an office in those towns for us on search results. Then they don’t give us the ability to control the listing they created for us: our only recourse is to log in as a consumer-type user and mark the location as closed. REALLY?? Then we have to wait for a call from a Google call center employee who won’t give a name or company and demand to know if we have an office in
    “X” city. If we answer wrong we risk losing our listing all together. REALLY??    REALLY???

    Okay, now we are down to the one listing they will “allow” for us and we are driving customers there to review us, but fully 1/3 of the reviews don’t display. These are not reviews that are trying to move from Places to G+ Local, they are new reviews. More pain. Complicate that with the fact that our competitors who haven’t claimed their Local listings have multiple locations boosting their ranking in search engine results and the whole mess is killing us.

    In short, if you run a service-area business you are better off ignoring Google+ Local all together until Google gets their platform worked out. It would also help if Google actually had someone on staff, in charge who was over 28 years old who understands some basic small business concepts like SOHO and customers who want to feel like they are working with a local business that is actually local.

  • daveintheuk

    The trouble is, people don’t understand Google+ and when they do understand it they don’t care – because it simply doesn’t solve a problem for anyone, it does nothing people can’t do already in a place their friends are. Google need to stop trying to force Google+ on all and sundry in every aspect of their lives and go away and design a product that people actually want/need.

    The Google+ Local product is nowhere near as mature (or useful) as it’s aggressively dominant, and frankly anticompetitive) exposure in the search results would suggest. If Google truly believed Google+ Local was such a great product and had confidence in it, they’d let it rank organically and grow based on its merits, rather than cooking up (sorry Eric) such massive exposure  in the SERPs. Perhaps it also wouldn’t feel the need to say things like “100 Google Reviews” when they actually mean “10 old Zagat reviews, 2 from “a Google User and 88 ratings (based on the old scoring system) without reviews).

    For small businesses? They were happy with Facbeook for community pages, Twitter for conversation/casual interactions and their own websites for everything else – nobody wanted another platform to manage, let alone one they were being forced into using (as opposed to say Pintrest which worked for some people and they WANTED to use)… or one that basically tries to compete with their existing channels (especially their website). The theory is great, but the practice is further fragmentation of information making it HARDER for the user to know where to go (much as Google would like to think, people will rarely just use the Google+ Local page).

    Oh, and those ZAGAT ratings? When will people realise it is just an average of 0-3 ratings (so less granular than other systems) made to look more meaningful by multiplying by ten. It really isn’t anything clever!

    If only Google had stayed privately owned, imagine how good it would be now – and I am sure it will still be profitable enough for the founding members to be rich. Maybe Larry wants a super-yacht or something.

    Also, has anybody else noticed how few reviews are being left since they switched from Google Places to Google+ Local? Almost everywhere I look at was last reviewed 2 months ago. HINT: Google+ is turning people off, they aren’t interested.

  • daveintheuk

     +1 (haha!) totally agree with this; users just are not interested in Google+, in fact I think it is a turn off for them, far less reviews left on Places pages since they rebranded…

  • http://www.949local.com/ Jim Froling

    As for our clients and all local businesses everywhere, G+ Local offers a great opportunity to extend their brand and their business.  With the blending of social and search now, those who embrace this new paradigm will prosper.  Those who don’t, won’t.

    Google+ in itself is alright.  Some very cool features and benefits over Facebook et. al.  It could be more intuitive and easier to use but I’m confident Google knows this and is working on it.  G+ is a work in process for Google and it will get better.  

    I don’t like the rather “heavy handed” way that Google is “encouraging” users to sign up.  Not being able to post reviews, see full blown G+ Local profiles etc., unless “signed on” is weak.  I’d like to see a stronger push by Google across the media spectrum (TV, online, print, etc.) extolling the benefits of their new baby rather than cramming it down our throats which I feel only makes users, and local businesses, resentful and defensive.

    For now and the foreseeable future, Google+ (Local) is reality.  It a change from the past reality however.  Me, I embrace this change and the opportunity that this change presents.  I’m rooting for Google big time!  

  • http://www.ScottBartell.com Scott Bartell

    They really needed to do something (and still should do more) about the ease of posting fake reviews. I never understood why Google allowed it to be so easy for a company’s competitors to post fake negative reviews.

  • smcilree

    Two months in and G+ Local still shows me results from 200 miles away by default. They are still grabbing my ISP location rather than taking the location I have set in my other Google products. It strikes me this shouldn’t be what appears to be such a hard solution for all the super coders Google has in house.

    Although I have never minded using my true identity on Google+, I am a bit apprehensive about its use with a reviewing site. I feel in the long run it will have the effect or skewing reviews to the positive. People will be hesitant to post well deserved bad reviews, leaving only feel good reviews for truly crummy establishments. 

  • daveintheuk

    They don’t care because:

    1) They just want to get content in there to catch up with others
    2) They just want to get people signed up to Google+
    3) “it doesn’t scale” to do things properly and put some effort in on the customer service side
    4) This is all about driving the advertising business anyway, it doesn’t really matter what people are reading as long as their eyeballs are on Google’s pages not others
    5) Now, all they care about is making the maximum return for their shareholders (see above)

  • http://www.altaresources.com/ Cory Grassell

    The only company that makes more dramatic changes to user experience is Google. I don’t know about a business’s perspective, but this move from Google Places to Google+ Local is inconvenient, not to mention a poor branding move. It does seem to be a subliminal push to get users to sign up for its Google+ social network, something that Google adamantly believes it can get right (although I have my serious doubts).

  • Maximilian Mohrs

     I definitly have to agree on the last paragraph. I also think the main problem is, that there are no / not many people at google that actually do understand (or care) how any business other than a cafe or shop service their customers. The ironic point is, that this way the “search experience” that google claims is so important can’t be to great.

  • Patrick Ducat

    Lauren,

    Our team is having the same problem. Any business profile we update for a client will not show the photos on the front end! What good is this, Google? Is there something I’m missing? Very annoying.

  • http://twitter.com/bradleyquist bradleyquist

    I am the social media manager for many Kia dealerships across the nation. A client of mine had 125+ reviews and a 4.5/5 on the old Google reviews. They worked hard for it.

    Now they are at 10 reviews and 0/3 rating. Their business is HURTING because of it.

    I had some good correspondence with a Google employee who understands the issue, but says there is nothing they can do about deleting the negative reviews, even though the good reviews are gone. It’s unfair to the business. Why should the negative ones stand when typically they come from unreasonable customers? It’s harder to get a good review than a bad one. It’s just not right for the businesses.

    Google needs to address this issue. They have developed a platform that businesses depend on and now they need to make it right.