Google Places for Business
Business owners are aware of the importance of having their location information listed accurately in Google’s search results; this was accomplished by claiming and verifying through a phone call or postcard. The easiest way to manage claimed and verified business information in Google’s database is through Google Places for Business (The majority of Linkmedia 360’s clients have multiple locations, so this blog post is written from that perspective).
Locations could be added one at a time, or “bulk uploaded” using a spreadsheet. Hours, categories, photos, etc. could be uploaded (and revised) once locations were claimed and verified, and each location could be seen on Google Maps. If the business were using Google AdWords, the locations could be linked to it and each location’s impressions/actions over the last 30 days could be viewed, (with a 24 hour delay), if Google Analytics were set up. No need to worry about claiming and verifying each location added through this dashboard; since the business owner was using Google Places for Business and had a verified Google account, any locations added were automatically claimed and verified.
Of course, Google is continually improving their user experience, so business owners now have a new dashboard to upload and manage multiple-location business information. Not to worry current Google Places for Business users! The “old” dashboard will still be used in the transition period to the “new” dashboard. (I used the word “current” in the sentence above, as any existing Google Places for Business accounts will automatically be directed to the new dashboard) I have talked to Google Places for Business Help several times with dashboard questions, and the division of dashboards was explained to me this way for new users:
- 10 locations and less, use the “old” Places for Business dashboard
- 10 locations and more, use bulk upload tool as part of the “new” dashboard
During this “transition” period, it’s possible to have your business listed on both the old and new dashboard at the same time, and we manage Google accounts for several businesses that are listed on both. How did this happen? Locations included in the old dashboard automatically populate into the new one, and to see each dashboard you have to log in to each separately. Changes can be made in the new dashboard the same way they were in the old. No word yet on when the old dashboard will disappear.
What are the benefits of the new dashboard?
- It contains all of the same functions as the old dashboard.
- As of this blog post, changes to the new dashboard reflect on the old dashboard, and vice-versa.
- Google AdWords is available for each location.
- You have the ability to make a change (name, hours, logo, etc.) and “Apply to all locations”.
- There is a notification of how to “Improve Locations”.
- “Status” is shown for all locations (e.g., “Live”, “Data Conflicts”).
- Up to 10 categories can be added.
- Once new, bulk uploaded locations have been claimed and verified, Google+ Local pages are automatically created for each location. (Great for SEO). These are nothing fancy – logo, NAP, website, Google Map picture, categories, hours, contact info. I asked Google about the ability to “manage” these Google+ Local pages as that option does not work when it’s clicked on; the answer is not yet, but it’s coming.
- Revisions/additions made through the new dashboard are “end-all-be-all”. No need to reclaim or re-verify your location after changes are made.
- There is an icon link to Google Maps for your location.
- Not all information from the old dashboard appears on Google even though the information shows in the both the old and new dashboards (names, categories, logos, etc.). This may be due to multiple claimed locations. Call your Google rep for more info.
- Changes can take up to 4 weeks (or longer) to come through to your Google+ Local pages.
- No Google Analytics in the new dashboard yet. Google is working on adding this feature.
- The ability to add additional details or videos is not available yet.
- The ability to add custom categories has been removed.
- Still no ability to designate “Open 24 Hours” if this applies to a location. It should be easier to designate a business “Open 24 Hours” other than labeling a location open from 12:00 A.M. to 12:00 A.M.
- As of May 5th, it’s still not possible to designate business hours in other than half-hour increments.
- Although multiple categories can be added, it is not possible (yet) to designate one category as “primary”.
Stay tuned, as these dashboard updates are continually evolving. I noticed on May 5th that creating a socially-enabled Google+ page for individual (claimed, verified and upgraded) locations now creates a Google+ icon link for this page in the new dashboard. Better yet, socially-enabled Google+ pages will be automatically created for claimed and verified locations. It looks as if the new dashboard may eventually contain icon links for all Google applications, so this may end up being a “one-stop Google shop”.