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The new Google My Business landing page Google has made yet another couple of major changes in the evolution of its local services for business. In June came Google My Business, followed in the USA in July by the Pigeon! This will roll out in the UK shortly (if it hasn’t already started to!) Here we’ll take a look at the changes in the local services dashboard and what that actually means for business owners.

What Was the Problem This Change Tries to Solve?

For years the local services dashboards were a mess. In fact Mike Blumenthal pointedly described the set up as a “train wreck” a couple of years ago, in an article designed for the Big G’s eyes and ears. To complete your listings in Google Places’ map, and Google Plus Local pages you had to access 2 different dashboards and even when they were supposed to have combined… it was a very imperfect marriage. It was a setup that clearly favoured larger companies who could afford a staff member to focus on local listings. If a company also needed a Google Plus Brand Page… oh boy!

What’s Actually Changed?

New Google My Business new local dashboard Basically, Google has now pulled all the Plusses and Places facilities into one dashboard with no need to duplicate your information between different dashboards. Additionally, all the related local services are accessible from the same dashboard at last! So the new Local Dashboard provided by Google My Business allows you to manage all of these functions from a single convenient interface. Google My Business dashboard services panels setup

  • Maintain your Google+ local information
  • Access Google Insights – analytics of your local listings.

Monitor your local ratings - significant local ranking factor

  • Pick up on your business reviews – they are important particularly in local: even with imminent Pigeon Pooping about to arrive!
  • Access your AdWords and Google Analytics directly.
  • Update and Correct your NAP (Name, Address & Phone number) information and all the other associated data such as your operating hours, services and categories etc.

Google My Business New header for local business listing This new way of working makes it much easier to produce a consistent business identity online, in a fit for purpose dashboard. The good news is that it puts everybody, particularly the small business owner back on a more even keel.

Clearer Page Types

It seems that Google has pitched this change at encouraging engagement between customer and business to help with growing your local customer numbers. It would seem that there is a strong possibility of posts from Google My Business pages having a bit more clout in the SERPs, though the changes due to arrive courtesy of the Pigeon update might make that a short lived boost. Posts by pages will surface on your own page, on your followers’ feeds and (it’s hinted) across the SERPs generally. selection of G+ page types is simplified and clarified

Storefront Page

The storefront page is pretty self explanatory. If you have premises where you want customers to come through the door. You need a storefront page. This is very similar to the familiar(ish) Google+ pages where the same cover photo profile image, NAP and posts are still available. Crucially, for this location focussed page a Storefront Page has to have your physical address verified as before. When verification is successful, the rest of your business data such as opening hours can be completed. Importantly you will pop up on Google Maps and be able to act on customer reviews.

Service Area Page

The Service Area Business Page is focussed on businesses that don’t really have customers through the door. This is for the Gasman, the Plumber, the Mobile Scratch Repairer and anybody who goes out to their customers and clients. Despite not pinning a marker to your exact address, this page type highlights the area that you serve and puts your marker in the middle of it. You can still add your business data as above, but your address is not shown.

Brand Page

For businesses that are less focussed on place but have a target market that’s nationwide, and rely on building their brand… the Brand page is the Business Page that will deliver the best results. In essence they are fairly similar to Facebook Fan pages in that contact details, posts and media uploads are available.

A Note on Listing Verification

This is almost a stop press section! A note from Search engine Roundtable http://ow.ly/zTRlG on August 1st highlighted a very recent development that should make verification simpler – if it works 😉 Jade Wang, one of Google’s more frequent public faces, revealed the news that for businesses whose websites are already verified on Google’s Webmaster Tools, verification may be available instantly for new Google My Business Listings. This should be a real help to people’s workflow. There are caveats about certain categories of business that will have to use the older methods. I haven’t seen the details yet but hopefully this will benefit the thousands of new businesses that attempt to list themselves every year. See http://ow.ly/zTRMP for the original bulletin.

The Advantages

If this update to the Google interface for businesses proves stable, then the major advantage is that all your Plus and Place information is accessible from one dashboard. That alone is worth hours of saved time for agencies. For go it alone business owners, it removes the hassle and confusion of dealing with several dashboards that were not always easy to synchronise. It’s not just the streamlining of the dashboards that is helpful. In the one dashboard you have access to your listing information, Insights from listings, AdWords Express and your Analytics without having to cycle through multiple accounts. There’s no real excuse now for having an incomplete local listing in your Google account! The example SERP screen below gives a very clear idea of why you should bother.  Fully completed listings make a huge difference in your local visibility and for shopfront businesses that means prominence in the cluster of local pin markers for Google maps that often shows up as a high ranking section of local results.  Often referred to as the “local seven pack” these can appeal to and channel website visitors who are ready to come and do the deed… buy your product or service! Example Google SERP: dentist carlisle showing knowledge graph panel for 1 business on hover   The key advantage for a business owner is the more effective boost that the new listing setup can give a business in local search results. There is a much lower risk of having inconsistent data in the listings, which was and still is, a ranking killer. Also, since Knowledge Graph results became established in the SERPs; if your listing makes it into the local map cluster on a results page, your business will get its own knowledge graph display appearing in the right hand column of the page when a searcher hovers over your local result pin. As you can clearly see in this screen grab. A final benefit that’s not to be sniffed at is the ability to integrate a 360 panoramic photo of the interior of your premises as a shopfront business. The slight snag is that you do have to find a Google approved photographer to carry out the job of snapping a virtual reality tour of your premises. It can be a huge benefit to businesses where appearances are important! dentist carlisle results showing a Google knowledge graph panel which appears on hovering over a local pack listing So – get cracking and get your Google self under control without delay! If you would like a step by step graphical guide to getting set up, then visit this interactive infographic – thoughtfully produced by the good folks at Simply Business http://ow.ly/zTOi6 We’ve also picked the brains of ROI Media via their excellent article here: http://ow.ly/zTQZg If you would prefer your information straight from the horse’s mouth then Google’s own help and education section is here.  http://ow.ly/zTWWj