Google has released a new Google Places bulk management interface to new and existing users. Their post mentions that the purpose of the upgrade is to enhance the management of multiple locations.
Example of the Account View
We’ve had some time to play around with the new interface and have some initial feedback and thoughts on the implications of these changes.
Features we love:
- The search bar allowing us to find locations instantly
- The categories are now clearly listed in the help center
- Addition of ad-specific fields into the template for Google Places accounts that are linked to AdWords accounts utilizing ad extensions
Features that we miss/still want:
- Offers (Update: Offers launched in a new interface however they don’t support offers for more than 100 locations even after you contact the sales e-mail included in the error message)
- The ability to manually move the map marker for an individual location
- The ability to download your current bulk file
- Reporting on actions, impressions, and clicks so we can analyze consumer interaction with the listings (and the option to export this data) (update: Vanessa in the Google Help Forum mentioned these stats will still be available in the old interface but did not give a time frame)
Updated 6/18-Any analytics data available in the old Google Places interface will not include data from searches that originate in the Google + Local tab in Google + or interactions with a listing in Google + Local)
- The addition of custom content (although the addition of 5 categories will help)
- Option to display more than 15 listings at a time
- Preview option before a listing goes live
- Photo columns in the bulk template (Update: this is available in the interface when you edit the template but the help center says photos can only be edited on an individual basis-testing in progress)
No status like active, deleted, pending, etc.
Google Places is not available in all countries so any listing in a country not supported by Google Places needs to be created/managed through Map Maker
Ability to add in videos (should come back with the merge of Google + Local and Google + Local Business pages
Preview option before a listing goes live
Bugs still getting worked out:
- The Owner Verified check mark that appeared on Google Places listings did not transfer over to the Google + Local pages even though they are still considered verified
- We found links to two Google Places templates. One template without ad-specific fields and one template with ad-specific fields
- Update 6/18-Photos are taking at least a month to publish according to the latest Google and Your Business Forum Wrap-up video
Implications of these changes:
This upgraded interface is just another step in the ever changing world of online strategy that is being propelled forward by consumer behavior. The recent algorithm changes and the introduction of Google + only reflect that the medium in which consumers are finding businesses is reacting as well. A few thoughts:
The Focus is on Location Management: I think the release of the new Google Places interface indicates that the focus of managing location data is shifting back to the location data. We all know that businesses want to get found online by new or existing customers. In order for that to happen they need to:
1) Be present through Google Places
2) Have accurate information to ensure a solid customer experience during the contact phase
3) Be associated to correct business categories to be findable by the right customer.
The simplified interface with the updated bulk edit capabilities back up these three points by allowing business with multiple locations to easily upload and edit locations. The expansion from 5 to 10 categories tells me that this association is going to have increased importance in business listing management.
Don’t Ignore your Website: For years Google has had several initiatives encouraging businesses to build a website including the Get Your Business Online program. The slow removal of custom fields and expanded content means that business can no longer lean on their Google Places listing as their website but must create their own site whose structure supports both the corporate and local presence. Fast forward to the release of Google Venice a few months ago, the algorithm change that increased the presence of blended results (places and website location page combined) to account for 67% of listing results. And in addition, the release of Search Plus Your World which allows Google + users to see personalized search results influenced by multiple factors means that a local SEO strategy is 1) imperative and 2) goes beyond website optimizations and will include content management and Google + strategies.
We look forward to hearing your thoughts on the new Google Places interface.