Google has done it again, they’ve changed their local portal for small businesses in an effort to resolve the ongoing issues with local. Like most small businesses and marketing companies that continue to use Google’s local search as one of the places we attempt to gain visibility and traffic through, we have our doubts that the latest changes will finally be the answer.
Google Local – A Short History
Without getting into too much detail, Google’s local portal for small businesses have undergone almost continual transformations for the past several years. Many have merely caused confusion and frustration for brands of all sizes and local service providers. Using brands such as Google Maps, Google Places, Google+ Local, and even Google Local Business Center, the local side of Google has continually evolved, disappeared and even combined to create “new” and “better” platforms for the small business owner.
As a result, many businesses have lost their listings, been forced to re-claim, re-verify and in some instances re-create listings where a PIN code has been required by phone or email time and time again. Reviews and other associated data has been lost due to the changes. At the same time as Google’s local portal has changed, many feel not for the better, the user side of Maps has become the standard for which all location searches are measured against.
A Little More Than Ironic
As frustrations from small business owners against Google’s local portal continued to increase less businesses were re-claiming listings, either through a lack of understanding, time, or desire to learn the new portal yet again. At the same time, business owners understand just how imperative the Google Maps platform is to gaining new customers through local or map search. Despite the seemingly endless hoops and hurdles to claiming listings, business owners understand their importance. A change for the better has been long overdue.
Will Google My Business Fix Local?
With the newest release of Google’s local portal many small business owners are just diving in and hoping for the best. The latest version replaces the old Google Places for Business and the Google+ equivalent, consolidating several of the features into what they consider to be a “friendlier interface.” While features aren’t the focus, but more tying them together. The most notable of which is the claiming and profile management process with Google+ sharing, review management, AdWords Express and Google Analytics. The approach is to give a one-stop-shop for small business owners where they are able to enter the information one time and have it populate across all Google platforms seems to be a good idea, but only time will tell.
As SMB owners start using the new portal and seeing their response to issues and updates, that’s where the true test will be. So far, so good here, but tell us about how the service has been working for you.
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