Google has another update for businesses, and unlike the Google Algorithm updates, this one is intended to be genuinely helpful for all. Google has rebranded its business listings center of confusing names (Google Places for Business, Google+ Local, etc) to “Google My Business”.
Google My Business offers many of the advanced features the Google+ Local rollout had, such as the ability to view and respond to customer reviews and share social posts for single businesses. Linda Blomquist and Mike Blumenthal have excellent write-ups of how the updates can be of use for small businesses. What I would like to give some additional insight into is how the new Google My Business can be of use to National Businesses who manage franchises, national organizations who manage local offices, and any other larger business or organization with more than 10 locations.
Changes to Bulk Location Management
Easier Bulk Listing Management
For businesses with 10 or more locations, there are now features withing Google My Business that make the use of the “bulk location management” tool easier and give businesses a more social presence on Google. They started by improving the location import process for all users so that there are now two new management features for upgraded bulk-managed accounts:
1. Manage access to your locations by adding and removing managers.
2. The ability to transfer location ownership.
This improvement is important because multiple owners kill ranking, point blank. Time and time again I’ve worked with businesses that have really inconsistent local ranking or no local ranking at all and one common issue is that their Google business listing has been claimed across multiple accounts.
The sensitivity of local data is such an important consideration (covered extensively in this post) and these multiple owners cause such a confusion of data that the listings often bear no ability to rank, especially in competitive markets. Google has even recognized this weakness and developed a “hotline” for businesses to call and get their multiply managed and duplicate listings all cleaned up. I’ve used this hotline several times and can attest that they are willing to clean this up for you (they once cleaned up 4 separate listings for me). I’m betting that since they went out of their way for me, they were investing quite a bit of time doing this.
Now, adding and removing managers, as well as transferring location ownership, are built in functions of the Google My Business bulk location management tool. How to transfer and remove managers is detailed by Google here.
Ability to Make Google+ Updates through Bulk Listing Management
Previously, one of the things that the bulk management couldn’t do was support any social features of Google Places listings. This meant that all of the local businesses could only have the “About” and “Photos” tab but no “Posts”. On the other hand, businesses that were not bulk verified could have a “Posts” tab, and this is the tab that is shown – showing a business’ recent social posts with all the images and social interaction right there. The Google My Business rollout has made one big change in this regard, businesses can now:
Make updates and posts to show visitors the Google+ page and posts for your location!
Now, bulk managed listings can enjoy this feature, and visitors can land on the “Posts” tab, which allows them to comment, reshare, and interact with the posts. It also gives businesses a great opportunity to get more content and messaging on their listing that future prospects can also see. This hotel in New York displays their specials, recent hotel events, and neighborhood happenings on their posts tab. It’s still a tedious process to go into each account to make these updates, so hopefully there will be updates to make this more seamless in the future.
Although it has yet to be determined, most experts are saying that utilizing this feature will be a big ranking factor in the future. Businesses that have active pages with lots of posts and comments and reshares will most likely have a much higher ROI and ranking from Google Places. Also, the ability to review other businesses as a business can build brand visibility for those who elect to be part of the brand’s circle, a great way to get into personalization of search results.
When Can My Businesses Join?!
Google says that they are currently moving existing bulk managed listings to the new Google My Business features in stages. The upgrade will happen automatically; so there is nothing that can be done to request the upgrade if you haven’t received it already. Personally, some accounts I’ve checked have been upgraded (and I’m really digging the new features) and some accounts haven’t been upgraded yet. All in all, if you or a client operates a business / organization with 10+ physical locations, Google My Business is something to be excited about.
I’m planning to share improvements, updates and findings as they rollout. Stay tuned!