If you manage Google Places Listings of any description, you will have no doubt noticed the updated look and feel and the shiny new name – Google My Business. In case you need a memory jog; here’s the Google produced video, introducing the new platform and managing to steer completely clear of any facts whatsoever: Even though the video is fact light, it is interesting to note how ‘small business’ orientated Google is with this platform – but more on that later.
A shady past
Whichever end of the spectrum you were on – big corporate to village business – you will no doubt know that Google Local Listings was one of the most disjointed and cumbersome platforms out there, which in all honesty was incredible considering this was from the same people who simplified and revolutionised the search engine. In the past there was huge confusion as to how all the different components of Google Business, Local, Places and Plus interacted to create a unified package for business listings – or indeed if they even created a unified package at all. In the early part of 2013, Google rolled out changes to the dashboard which were meant to alleviate some of this confusion, but there was still a disconnect between a brand’s Plus page and its listing entry. To add, if you took the seemingly sensible step of registering your business straight through Google Plus, you were left with three different pages – brand, listing and local Plus page. Not ideal.
New and Improved
Here’s the new dashboard’s look and feel: Straight away users are struck by the sleek and unified look. One of the pivotal changes has been the integration of the Google Plus page into the localised dashboard – affording page managers the ability to post straight off the localised page. The above page is one I manage for our client, Gracewell Healthcare, who run a series of luxury care homes in the UK and, in all honesty, the updated platform is a godsend for clients of this nature. Having lived with the new interface for a while now, I can say it is a vast improvement. Being able to post to G+ straight off the dashboard is a huge time saver. The drop down menu on the top right has made all the components of a Google Business page easily and readily available, and I can imagine this will become the one stop spot to accessing all of Google’s Business app products – including the easy addition of new apps. The insights section has a fresh look and offers users some extra insights, which is always a good thing.
The shortcomings and grey areas
So back to that lovely video – the focus is undoubtedly small business when it comes to Google My Business. That’s great, but what about the big corporates? Is Google My Business and Plus in any which way going to rival Facebook as a brand promotional vehicle? The answer is – not at the moment. The updates are great, but the bulk upload tool is still in its early stages and, in any case, managing a lot of listings is still an enormous pain and quite possibly unfeasible at this point in time. A good few people have suggested that the advent of Google My Business is in some way the death knell of Google Plus as we know it, and heralds a big move to a locally focussed platform – a move to thinking small as opposed to big. I disagree. In my opinion, the updated platform is merely a stepping stone to bigger things. It is undoubtedly a huge improvement and it offers Google the opportunity to test its system on small businesses, before stepping up to the plate of big business. The prospect of having your brand integrate with Google Search, Maps, Local, Business, Youtube etc remains as powerful as ever and when Google does manage to get its integration act together… Facebook will need to start pedalling a bit harder.