Google Finally Releases a User-Friendly Interface for Its Local Business Pages
On Wednesday Google announced the roll-out of a huge update aimed to terminate the old Google Places as we know it.
The new Google My Business is said to be just a dashboard improvement, however it brings us a much more significant change: the long-awaited integration of all products that Google has designed for the local business is now on. Both business owners and local SEOs have been experiencing the shortcomings of maintaining both the social and the local Google pages in the pursuit of improving their brand visibility on Google. When Google decided to merge the two types of company pages (social and local) a new wave of problems aroused. The automatically created duplicate social pages seemed like a real nightmare to the confused business owners. Hopefully with the latest Google Places makeover all those challenges will be left behind.
But let’s see what Google My Business is all about:
By accessing Google My Business you can manage every single aspect of your local Google business profile – you no longer need to hesitate which dashboard to access in order to share a post or a video with your audience, to reply to your customers reviews or to update your business working hours for instance. The info posted on GMB will effectively update the given company profile on Google+, Maps and Google Search. A unified control panel for your business with incorporated analytics and customer engagement insights really looks tempting.
View your business on Google
Once you enter GMB dashboard you are immediately presented with the company details that are also available for quick edit.
In the Edit pop-up window you also could View your business on Google. This feature allows you to check how your business profile will appear in Google Search Result pages (local organic, local pack and Knowledge Graph previews are available), Google Maps, and Google+.
A really user-friendly aspect of GMB is the live guidance that the user gets when navigating through the new dashboard. All kinds of reminders and notes could be seen in the dash which make its management intuitive and basically easier as compared to the previous version.
A curious yet helpful note on an unverified listing would shed some light on why it is closed for editing:
Save from giving you a clue what might be wrong, you are also given a suggestion as to what action needs to be taken in order to fix the problem:
The GMB interface even warns you for duplicates:
Another really good custom tip that the dash gives is related to the level of completeness of the company profile. Save from showing a percentage bar, you are advised what you should do next to make it to the 100%:
When you enter Edit mode, the tips get even more detailed and creative.
An interesting option to the company profile field is the Add virtual tour that allows you to add a 360° view of your business office. If you click on it you are facing a good old sales pitch offering a great “$495 deal only on My Business “. Well, you should’ve seen that coming, you do not think you could simply upload your own interactive office preview – if you want to take advantage of the virtual tour perk you’d need a Google Trusted Photographer, as the disclaimer quotes: “No payments are made to Google”.
The Complete Integration
Having filled in all the company details, you can easily scroll down and check all the profile management features – social (Google+), customer reviews, analytics, insights, even an option to start a hangout with the business followers.
section offers the standard message editor bubble that you are probably well familiar with if you have handled a standard Google+ page before.
field contains valuable info about your customer reviews shared on Google and about other sources on the net that Google monitors. This will give you a good insight on what review sources Google actually admits as authoritative and where you could encourage your clients to share their opinions of your services/products. Often those external review sources will lack the rating statistics, or date of posting and as Google informs: “Not all reviews from non-Google websites are included, and reviews don’t update immediately.” Nevertheless this info is pretty useful, well… if you know how to leverage it to your advantage.
The second tab in the Reviews section offers a more graphical overview of the review data thanks to chart visualizations.
The good thing is that while in the Reviews section you could read each Google review and immediately reply to it. That would save you time and will keep you constantly updated of the public opinion of your brand. Keeping in touch with your audience is really taken to the next level thanks to this feature.
show approximate values that characterize the visibility, engagement and audience of your page. Variables tracked include total page views, clicks, actions on posts, followers profiling and even driving directions requested.
The link to the website’s Google analytics page actually saves you a few clicks after having gone over your Google Local Page Insights.
If you are to check the Apps drop-down menu (it seems that everything is really on a single click distance now) you could also select among the various shortcuts: GMB (the welcome screen of the given business dashboard), Reviews, Insights, Google+ profile, and Google AdWords Express.
As communicated by Google, Google Places and Google+ Pages users will be automatically upgraded to GMB. The GMB is available not only on desktop but for mobile devices (phone and tablet) as well: the Android app is already live at the Google Play store and the iOS app is soon to follow.
The well-known Places Bulk Upload Tool is now referred to as Google My Business Locations. However, any significant changes are yet to be introduced in terms of increased upload speed and social integration.
Things to consider
As explained in the FAQ section, the GMB is free for all users. However, with the first question in FAQs being “How Much Does Google My Business cost?” we are somewhat intentionally reminded of the much generous nature of Google. Is there a hint that this Google product for local businesses will soon turn into a paid platform – who knows, for now we gladly acknowledge the next note “To learn about Google Ads, visit this site” and we move on to the free GMB dashboard.
The following question also sounds as a warning message: “Do I need Google My Business if I already have a website?” Though after making sure that “The information you provide about your business can appear on Google Search, Maps and Google+” we are ready to sign up and even ask: “Do I need a website if I already have Google My Business?”