Answering The Latest Google+ Local Questions

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Google+ Local FAQ’s

Lots of questions are being asked on various forums and local SEO expert blogs etc about how the new Google+ Local pages work and how businesses in particular are going to be affected. I thought it would be a good idea to post the questions and answers here together with the sources so that you can keep up to date with what’s going on.

This video was released yesterday by the Google Places community manager, Vanessa Schneider which answers some of the popular questions being asked on the ‘Google and Your Business‘ Forum:

It’s worth subscribing to their channel on YouTube so that you can keep up to date with all that’s happening in the world of Google+ Local.

This long list of questions and answers was produced by Vanessa in the forum and you can see it here:

I already have a Google+ page, and now my Place page has been upgraded to this local Google+ page. How do I bring the two together, so that I have just one page?

The short answer is, you can’t merge the two right now. But believe me, we’re working on that. So to be very clear here: We will we be combining these two pages, so that you will only have to manage one listing — basic information, social features and all — across Google. Please give us time to get there — we’ll keep you posted every step of the way. For now, keep managing your pages as is from the two separate dashboards (Google Places and Google+)

What’s the difference between a Google+ page and the local Google+ page?

A Google+ page has all the social features available to Google+ users — Hangouts, sharing to circles, video uploads, etc. A local Google+ page is just a new look to the Google Places listing, minus the social features. Those social features are coming soon, as I mention in my original post above. And as I also said, we know it’s not ideal needing to manage two separate pages.

So will there eventually be only one page?

Yes, there will eventually only be just one page to manage, with information integrated across Google — Search, Maps, Google+, mobile.

What should I as a business owner do?

You do not have to do anything — we’ve migrated the Google Places listing for you. Keep managing that formerly-known-as Places listing via your Places dashboard, under the same account you were using before.

I’ve verified my Places listing already. Why doesn’t the checkmark show on this new local Google+ page?

We did not port the verification checkmarks over to this new local Google+ page. Your verified status hasn’t changed, though — you can still manage this listing via the Places dashboard. We’re working on getting those checkmarks on there, please sit tight.

So should I still create a Google+ page?

You’ve got a few options:

1) You may create a Google+ page to try out the social features in Google+. Be sure to choose the Local category so that we can bring your multiple pages together to create one listing later on.

2) Go to this form — http://goo.gl/8apbo — give us your email address, and we’ll let you know when we merge your pages in to a single page — like the ones we feature on the Google and Your Business blog post (http://goo.gl/lhF6S).

3) Sit tight, and as we mentioned in the blog post, we’re going to have a solution for everyone that’s verified today that will make upgrading to the full local Google+ page experience seamless and easy.

Why am I still seeing the old Place page?

This launch was a slow roll out so we could make sure everything was running smoothly. Soon, you’ll only be seeing the new and improved local Google+ pages in our search results. Some old links to Place pages may work for a little while longer.

Is there multi-admin functionality yet for local Google+ pages, just like for regular Google+ pages?

Nope.

Has the process for verification changed at all? When I click the “Manage this page” button along the right, it kicks me to my Google Places dashboard. What’s up with that?

Well, first, did you claim and verify that listing? Then it’s working as intended, kicking you to your Places dashboard from which you can manage your business’s details. Is that your business’s listing, and you’ve not yet claimed and verified the listing? Again, it’s working as intended, kicking you to your Places dashboard, from which you can select “Add another listing” (bottom right), do the phone number lookup for your business, and claim and verify the listing. Verification works same as it always has — request the PIN, wait for the postcard or phone call.

Can you explain this Zagat scoring system?

Indeed I can. We have a great Zagat Help article on this very feature.

What happened to the Best Ever medals?

We’ve replaced the 5-star rating scale and Best Evers with the 30-point Zagat scoring system.

Why are my reviews out of chronological order?

Right above the first review, you’ll see a pulldown menu. The default is set to “Most helpful.” Select the pulldown and choose “Latest” to see them in chronological order.

What makes a review a “Most helpful” review?

When you sort the reviews by “Most helpful,” this takes into consideration many aspects of each review’s text and author, as well as feedback from users who vote on whether the review was helpful or not.

Do my customers need a Google+ account to leave a review?

Yes. Reviewers need to be logged in to Google+ to leave a review. The review will be public and attributed to their Google+ name.

I manage bulk listings. What should I do?

Keep submitting your listings for verification via Google Places for business, and keep managing them via the bulk management tool found via the Google Places dashboard.

Do I still have access to listing analytics?

Yes. Sign in to your Places dashboard and you’ll see historical metrics and activity from your Place page as well as new click and impression metrics on the local Google+ page that originated from Google.com and Google Maps. Metrics originating from within Google+ Local or from searches within Google+ Local won’t be displayed in the dashboard.

Are Offers still U.S.-only?

Yes.

What about my ranking, does that change with this launch?

The Google+ Local launch was an interface and design change. But generally speaking, ranking algorithms are always changing, so listings are always moving up and down. There’s nothing specific to this launch, but the ranking of a listing a year ago is likely in a different spot now, and it will likely be in a different spot next year, or even next week!

I have feedback to share, who can I send it to?

Please go to Google+ and click the “Home” button. At the top right, you’ll see a Gear icon. Click it and in the pulldown select Send feedback. We’re gathering it all up for the product teams.

The following is a further long list of Q & A’s from Mike Blumenthal’s blog. There may be some duplication with the list above for which I apologise:

If a user just has a gmail account will they be able to write a review or must they also sign up for Google+?

They will need to sign up for Google +

So our customers are not able to leave reviews unless they are on Google+?

Yep, you need a Google+ account to write a review. See the help page.

Can reviewers leave anonymous reviews?

No. At this point it is real names only.

Is there any way to choose a nickname like we had in Places reviews?

No

Why am I not seeing the “Leave a Review” button?

These had been removed from the Places page in anticipation of this move and put on the new Google+Local page. If you are still not seeing the review button it is because you have landed on the old Place page which is still accesible.

Why would Google make my re-publish old reviews while I’m trying to publish a NEW review for a different business?

Why it happens at that point in the process was an intentional design decision. It is a one time process needed since Google is moving from anonymous and nicknamed reviews to full, real identity reviews . This necessitated some sort of user approval process to explicitly allow your user name to be seen or to choose to make the review private.

Oh Google, you are driving me CRAZY! Can you please tell me how a dentist can have a Zagat review rating on their places page?

In this case it will be a single number indicating quality on the 0-30 scale.
Listings

I have my Google+ Business Page and my Google+ Local page claimed into different accounts. What do I do?

Keep managing them separately. From Vanessa: “We know it’s not ideal right now, but we’re working to consolidate these pages into a single page where you guys can manage your presence across Google. We’ll keep everyone posted on news in that regard.”

“To be very clear here, we will be combining any Google+ page you may have created with any matching upgraded Google Places listing (what we’re calling local Google+ pages). ”

If I have several hundred listings how to I enter them in Google+Local?

Bulk Upload was recently upgraded and is the method of choice for getting data into Google+Local. Given its very recent upgrade that is likely to remain the case.

Do you think we’ll be able to create one Google + page for a franchise type business and link it to all of the listings? Otherwise, I fear that my clients will either a) be forced to create (and manage!) 400+ Google + pages or b) Take a huge rankings hit!

We do not yet know how Google will this parent child relationship. Google has given a great deal of thought to the needs of large companies in Google + and were slow to implement the needed features to get them right.

They have added multiuser management to Google+ and it appears that it will likely be a feature when the merger of the Business and Local pages occurs.

Based on this evidence I am optimistic that Google will put in place some a way for a large, multi location chain to easily mange both +  and +Local page.

The fact that the bulk upload was recently updated implies to me that these issues were considered and likely already “baked in”.

Do you know if the Google + page is automatically linked when you set it up and find it via phone number?

The claiming process has not changed.

How can I upload Videos?

You can no longer upload videos or use the Post to Place page feature in the Dashboard. So for now there is no way but obviously video is a critical part of Google + and it will be integrated sooner rather than later.

Why does the “See your listing on Google Maps”  link in the dashboard not take me to the new Google+Local page?

From Vanessa: “We’re working to update that link so that it redirects to the new local Google+ page. Stay tuned.”

Is the Google Google+Local page still considered a search result?

Interesting question that I will put to Google. As it stands today the answer is yes AND no.

The Google + Local pages are indexed pages and are now showing up in the search results as a stand alone result in addition to a pinned result. So in that sense they are a web page and not a search result.

This will create some opportunity to use the page for reputation management and perhaps long tale strategies. They may become more important over time.

But the pages will still be updated automatically at Google’s whim if they suspect bad data and currently include competitors nearby so in that sense they are a Google controlled search result. They do not yet have ads on your page but that seems inevitable.

Can you please explain the difference of a Google+ Page compared to a Google+ Local Page? It seems like a lot of duplicate content? I don’t want to spend time and money creating both for all of our clients if they will eventually merge into one in the future?

From Vanessa: “A Google+ page has all the social features available to Google+ users — Hangouts, sharing to circles, video uploads, etc. A local Google+ page is just a new look to the Google Places listing, minus the social features. Those social features are coming soon, as I mention in my original post above. And as I also said, we know it’s not ideal needing to manage two separate pages.”

How will Google know to merge my Google+Local Page and my Google+Business Page?

From Vanessa: “Be sure to choose the Local category so that we can bring your multiple pages together to create one listing later on.”

Where do you find a link for a Google+Local listing if you wanted to report a duplicate VIA the Troubleshooter?

Use the URL you see at the top of the local Google+ page.

Do the Place’s Dashboard Analytics track impressions and actions on the Google+Local Page?

From Vanessa: “activity from your Place page as well as new click and impression metrics on the local Google+ page that originated from Google.com and Google Maps. Metrics originating from within Google+ Local or from searches within Google+ Local won’t be displayed in the dashboard.”

Comment: It is not at all clear to me that blended results are currently being counted in the current view of the analytics so this might not be completely accurate.

Will this upgrade solve the duplicate listing problem?

The backend system that creates listings is largely unchanged. So some problems will persist. Certainly with a new level of trust and verification provided by Google +, additional ways to triangulate who listings belong to may mitigate the problem but this remains to be seen. A possible result is that dupes will be pushed so far out of sight they don’t have the same affect as they do currently.

The rapid fire changes are difficult to keep up with. One has to wonder – why is Google deliberately creating such a chaotic situation?

Google has yet to learn that change is an anathema to most businesses. The updates occur on their development timeline and that is apparently chaotic.

Hopefully Google has taken the time to resolve some of the under the hood problems that have been so painful (merges, dupes, lost reviews) so what we lose in learning about the changes we can make up in efficiencies down the road. Here’s hoping!

What a mess it’s going to be when you’re trying to manage the new Plus+Places, but your login for each is different….

It would appear to me that the when the new local environment is fully fleshed out there will be multi user management so it MIGHT be workable.

I have a hard enough time trying to get small businesses to adopt Facebook and Twitter. I am concerned that the small businesses I work with will get frustrated with the lack of engagement they see with folks on G+.

It seems to me that the Google+Local page can be approached with passively or proactively. Your clients will be able to manage it passively much like they do today. IF the Google+ starts gaining traction AND Google starts showing local results in the main SERPS based on that activity then it will clearly be in the client’s interest to engage with Google + (or have you engage in  Google+ on their behalf).

While it complicates things somewhere in the future, it holds out the promise of greater direct affect on business results than either Facebook or Twitter.

If the algo is going to continue to include social signals what do you think this means for the all mighty local citation?

At this point the algo has not changed and remains intact. So it plays whatever role it currently plays and will for some time.

Historically in both organic and local, elements of the ranking ago persist even when new signals are added.  But like all of Google’s algos if Google upgrades it,  it will need to handle a range of situations where some business categories have social signals and some do not. In this case, it will be a long time before there are signals in many categories of local business.

I added Google + account, and now I lost my first page indexing.

The two are likely not related. Penalties that we have come to know and love as well as glitches like dupes that cause ranking issues are likely to persist. It is more likely that you are experiencing one of Google’s traditional brain farts rather than a new one

Looks like Google+Local page is showing only the first two categories that are listed in Places.

That is odd but accurate. It is not clear why Google is only showing two and if that has any significance in terms of ranking.

The “owner verified” designation is also apparently gone. It appears that the listings all have a “Is this your business?” and “Manage your page”.

According to Vanessa Google is working on fixing that.

I will post more questions and answers regarding Google+ Local as and when they arise.



About

Hi, my name is Mark and I'm the owner of SEO Manchester.

I started in SEO in 2009 and have gradually built up my business solely from organic traffic generated via high search engine rankings (mainly Google).

I love building highly optimised WordPress websites and optimising Google Places listings. I am also constantly building on my knowledge of the uses of all forms of social media for marketing effectiveness, particularly Google+.

When not helping clients improve their online presence I enjoy walking the dog around the hills where we live, reading, real ale and (surprise) spending more time on the web.

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