On Tuesday Google announced big changes to how local marketers manage Google Maps, Google Local and Google+ Local pages for their clients. The new “Places for Business” dashboard attempts to bring some degree of order to the chaos that is Google local marketing.
Enter the “Places For Business” Dashboard
The Places for Business dashboard attempts to integrate Maps, Local (formerly Places) and Plus Local under one roof. But, don’t get too excited. This won’t all be happening at once. In fact, if you already have clients who have verified their Local listings you’ll have to wait until the dust settles before you get your hands on the new dashboard.
That’s right, the PFB dash will only be available to newly verified listings, those verified after the announcement on Tuesday. Previously verified listings will have to wait until the big G gets the bugs out before they can simplify their Google local assets management. Further, if you are outside the US, you’ll have to wait to access the PFB even for new listings, at least for now.
Stronger, Faster, Easier Integration of Local Assets
In addition to making your life easier, the new PFB’s tight integration with Google’s databases will also mean speedier synchronization of changes made in PFB for Google+ listings. So, no more long waits for Google+ listings to incorporate changes made to G+ Local pages. How much faster you ask, in as little as 48 hours according to some sources.
More Integration of Local, Maps and Google+ Local, But Still Needs Work
You’ll need a personal Google+ listing now to make changes to videos or the social stream for your G+ Local page. Oh, and you won’t want to make changes to G+ Local listings via PFB either because they will take much longer to synch than going through your personal listing account.
So, yeah, Google still needs to do some work to give you more control over those aspects of business listings.
What’s Great About the New PFB Dashboard
On the plus side, they do give you new helpful in-line guidance to shepard you through the completion of your listing.
Another plus for PFB is that service area businesses, or “SABs” are finally acknowledged and given a place in G+ Local. New fields and a handy dandy checkbox allow SABs to exist and proudly state their service areas, as well as provide more alternatives for contact, including email.
Plus or minus, you decide, but the new PFB does away with custom categories, so no more uber long-tail keywords, okay? If you already have custom categories, you’ll likely get to keep them, at least for the time being.
The Bad and the Ugly of PFB
On the minus side, you’ll still have to verify your listing through the ever so painful postcard PIN or SMS method, and, unless you have an exceptionally high tolerance for pain, you’ll want to wait until you see an “upgrade” button in your PFB dashboard before attempting to merge your Google Local page with your Google+ Local listing. Upgrade buttons should start appearing to come to your merger nightmare rescue soon.
One more minus, the so-so analytics for G+ Local has not been upgraded, despite the vast possibilities Google could provide if it wanted to help local businesses see how well their G+ Local pages are performing. Ah well, perhaps mama Google doesn’t want to share information with that degree of accuracy until it is more certain how these pages are actually performing for Main Street businesses.
Whatever the case, the forecast calls for a high probability of continuing changes on Google local services with a good chance of confusion. But, in the end, these services will allow local businesses to continue to reach new customers, while providing Google with ample opportunities to crack the local paid ads code with oh-so-easy availability of Google Express pay per click ads via the PFB.
He has successfully trained dozens of other local marketers who now enjoy the entrepreneurial lifestyle. His own seven figure local marketing businesses now specialize in exchanging his marketing services for ownership in the companies he helps.