Back in June, we announced Google Places as Dead, and transitioning to Google+ Local. While still true, the transition has been very slow. Yesterday, Google started rolling out Google Places’ new look and feel, the next step in the full transition to Google+. Here’s what it looks like & what you need to know.
- New Interface
- Removal of custom categories
- Ability to add up to 10 categories (up from 5)
- Faster updates from the interface
- Feedback on the status of updates
- Locations can only be claimed by one account
- Hide Addresses in G+ for service area businesses
When Will My Account Be Updated?
As with many Google updates, this will be done on a rolling basis. It’s starting with new businesses claiming their locations for the first time. If accessing your Google Places account today, the account will likely look the same. You will receive an email from Google stating that your Google Places account has been upgraded.
Is There Anything I Should Do Immediately?
If you already have your account claimed & verified in either Google+ Local or Google Places, no immediate action should be taken. When your account is upgraded, take a moment to learn the interface and add additional categories if applicable.
The main implications of the transition are the same. Google’s local listings are transitioning to a social platform, Google+. This is key and important to not get caught up in the minuscule changes. These webpages continue to poise themselves to be Google’s intersection of social, local and mobile for business listings.
But the small changes still carry weight. Notably, the loss of custom categories will be an important aspect. Pre-determined categories have always carried more weight, but occasionally for certain terms it gave one listing an advantage over another. If your account utilizes custom categories, consider looking for a replacement.
Previously, through the user interface, a business owner could only add up to five categories. Now you can add up to ten. This doesn’t mean go into your account and add any category that roughly has an applicable audience (don’t be a spammer!). But it DOES mean you should verify that the categories you’ve chosen are covering the keywords your business is targeting.
Local has always been somewhat of a black hole. Business representatives would make changes to their Google Listings, the edit would appear to go through, but alas, when seen in search or maps, the edit was not shown. If you feel like this story relates to you, know that edits will now have a “pending” status attached to the edit.
This actually goes two ways as well. If Google is looking outward at the data across the web, and decides to update your information, you will be notified of the edit directly in the interface. Previously this was done via email or not at all.
Another important aspect of updates is the exclusivity of claims. Now each location can only be claimed with one account. In the all too common problem that a Google Places account login information had been lost or forgotten, it would leave a feed of outdated data that appeared to be from the business owner. This resulted in listings reverting back to old data occasionally. Now, since each account can only be claimed once, a new claim would trump the old claim, resulting in a more accurate listing.
Previously, using a merged Google+ Local listing as a social page (Google+ for Business page), was unavailable to business owners with service area oriented businesses. The reason being that you could not hide your businesses address, which is required by the quality guidelines. Now with this new functionality, you can hide your address within Google+! This is a great update for businesses who were excited to become social on a local level, but were previously unable to do so.
I hope this answers some of your questions regarding the new change, if you have a specific question, feel free to leave a comment or engage with me on twitter!