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3 Wishes for the Google+ Local Relocation Genie

A genie's lamp.

When Google first made the announcement that they’d be transitioning Google Places into Google+ Local, I was pretty darn excited. I’d dipped my big toe in the local water not long before, helping businesses verify their Places listings at an internship and then publishing a still applicable guide to Google Places. I couldn’t help but think that Google+ held new and exciting opportunities for business owners looking to communicate with existing and prospective customers. All in a beautiful new interface, too. That was the cherry on top.

It’s been a fair amount of time since the transition now, and I’m still a fan of the switch. Having recently gone through the process of updating LunaMetrics’ location information via the Places (or + Local?) Dashboard, though, I thought it an appropriate time to voice my concerns with the whole relocation process. Without any further ado, my three wishes:

1. One Location

One of the challenges we faced (and continue to face) in the process of digitally relocating the LunaMetrics office was that of having multiple local listings show up in Google Search. While we don’t have a ton of visitors that need our NAP information on a regular basis, there have been circumstances wherein we’ve had to clarify our actual location to misled travelers.

Our old listing is marked as closed, of course, but you wouldn’t know that by looking at the SERPs. Thus, my first wish is for one definitive listing in the local results.

Update (March 25, 2013): A helpful individual from the Google Support team called our office last week to reconfirm that our old location is no longer valid. As of late last week, our old listing has disappeared from the search results – leaving only our new, valid location. While the reviews haven’t transferred over (yet?), this is a great start. My first wish has been granted. Thank you, Google.

2. Transferrable Reviews

Here’s another of the challenges that rears its ugly head when you relocate your business on Google+ Local. You get a new listing, sure; but what about all of those reviews you took so long to earn organically? They come along for the ride, right? Wrong. In fact, they stay right where they were. Suddenly, a brick and mortar business might be offering “absolutely amazing products” at a vacant location. That doesn’t seem right.

I know that this is a concern for a whole slew of business owners, and I think it’s something that Google’s local team should address sooner, rather than later. If I’m updating my location information via a verified account and then re-verifying the new location via that same account, where’s the risk in sending the reviews along with me?

3. Less Weird (More Personable) Support Calls

When local listing information is altered (or changes are recommended) via Google Map Maker or the Google+ Local page itself, one of Google’s practices seems to be to have someone call the business to independently verify the changes. I’m not in any way opposed to this; in fact, I think it’s a pretty good idea. With local, triangulation is a great thing.

Thus far, though, the experiences I’ve had speaking with these individuals have been incredibly odd. They’re trained to get answers to specific questions; I understand that. However, some things aren’t so cut-and-dried as the pre-defined business categories. It would be great to speak with someone who can deviate from the prompt and respond to legitimate questions related to your listings. This is my third wish.

Update (March 25, 2013): As I indicated in the first update, we did receive a call from a very personable Google representative not a week after this post went live. My third wish has been granted, too.

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What are your thoughts on the Google+ Local business relocation process? How do you think it could be improved? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

http://www.lunametrics.com/blog/2013/03/18/3-wishes-google-local-relocation/

One Response to “3 Wishes for the Google+ Local Relocation Genie”

1. I had conversations on the Google and your Business Forum when Closing some offices for a client, which led to changes in Places entry management:

a. When you stop doing business at a location you now Close it and it stays visible in Google Maps for a specific phone no or business name and location search. I pointed out that we have other web directory data which we cannot always change so there needs to be an entry for it to quietly merge with. So a big improvement. What you need to remember is that you made those old web directory entries, or someone else copied your data, and its up to you to go out and edit or delete them. Where they have reviews you want to keep editing is important and for keeping citations.

2. Reviews. Google think of ‘Places’ rather than a business entity. I have asked for features which can differentiate between:
a. Business at location folds.
b. New business starts at location.
c. New owners take over old business:
Vacant lot with special equipment
Buy business with good will

For a. if the old business owner did not Close the old Places entry you need to do that. Also if it was rented it is in the locations owners interest to Close the old Places entry and deal with its old Web Directory data. Part of setting up a new business with retail or a service desk should be due diligence checking out old internet data associated with the business, especially bad reviews. Now Google in its lack of real world savvy thinks the review are for the location so they tend to stick there. Especially if the store name and phone no stay the same.

For b. alone at a new build there should not be an issue.

For a. and b. then the reviews will stay at the location. If you have bought goodwill then I expect you will have checked out the old owners reviews as they can have a large impact on your on-going success and the value of the old business. If you have just done a stealth re-open of a folded business then you cannot complain about old bad reviews which are out there.

And there is d.
You moved to upsize, downsize OWHY.
Now if the reviews at the old location are for your particular service then you would like them to follow you, right. I have asked for a feature where you can have the new owner/landlord of the old location PIN verify you taking the old locations reviews with you. To stop new owners buying goodwill and then having the reviews lifted. At the moment if you move then if your business name and phone no do not change then as the reviews are in a separate database which is periodically re-indexed to the Google+ maps index cluster they can follow you, but its an algorithm thing.

3. Well ‘cheap as chips’ ring rounders from the sub-content with a poor grasp of English are not going to offer much of a service. Google do not seem to fussed about bad PR. I have been posting on the help forum for 3 years now, complaining in Spades, but their disregard for any sort of good PR is legendary.

Cheers. Andrew.