As you might already know, last year in May of 2012, Google replaced all their active Place Pages & upgraded into new designs to match their Google+ interface. It was a sudden update for everyone and it was seemingly haphazard & sudden update that it left all the business owners in total shock, because no had any clue what had happened.
The whole system was in choas since most of the people were surprised with every step of the way some over reviews disappearing in their new Google+ Local profiles, to lost listings, drop in ranking, and loss of traffic plus more.
Its been a year now and things have started to settle down. Reviews for many have started coming back, major listings are no longer lost or mostly they’ve been replaced, we are starting to be able to see the bigger picture and Google has opened up several means of communication to provide support like they never did before.
Recently on April 2nd, Google made an announcement that the next step in their plan is to complete the integration of the Google Places for Business into the new Google+ Interface, main importantly the dashboard and business management tools. They already started rolling out the newly updated system for all the newly verified profiles who create their new +Local pages.
Chances are you’re an estalished business who has a verified business profile on Google, then you will have to wait until Google fixes most of the bugs out before your Google+ Local profile gets shifted over to the new Dashboard. Its because Google already warned that this version 1 doesn’t have all the issues resolved which were addressed previously.
Once this new interface comes around to you (Bug Free) then the Business Dashboard will match the design on your current local listing & you will have some new functionalities to work on as well.
This new upgrade in the dashboard has been specifically been designed to simplify the management and promotion of any business. Yes, ofcourse by promotion it means promotions through Google Adwords Express feature which is rolled out which you test out easily.
Apart from all this, there are so many other great bonuses that are included into the new Dashboard which is including:
- Your Google Places changes are much faster, for example any changes that you make in your business information will go live in under 48 hours now.
- This new system feeds directly into Google’s newly updated “knowledge graph” data structure which make things even more easier to manage and add more trust by Google
- This interface is much more friendly, along with a lot of useful tips & insights included already into the dashboard which helps educate noob-ish business owners to get started easily and helps make the right decisions for their business
- Most of the Service Area businesses now get a Google+ Local Listing & this page even hide their address!
Though, there are a lot of drawbacks currently in this new system, Google plans to address most of them in their coming updates:
- Now, you cannot add Custom Categories even though now you can choose up to 10 different categories for your business
- Their is no improvement in their verification system
- Any business owners need a personal Google+ Account in order to add videos or manage their social streams on Google+ Local page
- No additional analytical insights have been made available to go with the new system
Even though with all these updates. Google is still advises that you do NOT merge any of your existing Google Local Listing with new Google+ Local Page yet. They already made it clear that still their are lots of errors & the process will take some time. Till then, its best to wait it out. One of the Google+ Representative with whom I had a recent conversation told me that its said that when the system is finally ready Google will ask all the businesses to upgrade their listings with little to no work on their part.
Mike Blumenthal has written a blog post about the new Google Places Dashboard providing several screenshots, you can check out his blog for more.