Google recently announced some noteworthy changes to the Google Places dashboard. Overall, the reviews have been mixed, but there are some changes that will make it easier for SMBs to manage their Places account.
Here’s what you need to know:
- The new ‘Places for Business’ dashboard is designed to make things easier and more clear for SMBs. With the new dashboard, it will be easier to use and promote within Google’s local products.
- This new roll out is coming in stages. The new dashboard is considered a v1.0 evolution and users should expect to see more announcements about additional features.
- As this is a roll out, don’t expect that you will have access to the new dashboard immediately. The new dashboard is only available to new listings, those newly created or newly verified. If you’ve already claimed your listing, you are going to have to wait until the roll out reaches you.
- The new dashboard is cleaner, faster and easier to use. This is good. Changes made in the new dashboard feed directly into Google’s updated ‘knowledge graph.” This new structure makes it easier to manage data and Google will put more emphasis on the data submitted here.
- On the downside, the verification process remains the same. A PIN is still required to take control of your listing. However, if you need to dispute a listing, there is a new, clearer appeals process. Also, Google is now preventing listings from being claimed by multiple accounts. This should eliminate some problems with ownership and administration.
- The new dashboard features tips and advice on how to complete individual fields. With fewer fields to complete and clear instructions on how to fill out the fields, it should be easier for SMBs to manage their listings.
- All core updates to your profile should go live within 48 hours. Photos will take a bit longer. Google is working on a fix for this delay. If you want to add video to your profile, you will need a Google+ profile.
- With the new dashboard, Google has acknowledged SABs (service area businesses) for the first time. SABs can now get a Google+ Local page and hide their address.
- Users will see a significant change in the categories portion of their profile. No longer will you be able to create a custom category (although custom categories for older listings will remain). Now you will be prompted to select up to 10 categories to list in. Google even provides examples of how to complete these fields for maximum effect.
- Please note, Google has advised SMBs to not merge their old Google Local Listing with the Google+ Local page. This process is fraught with problems Google is trying to solve. So just sit tight and wait for Google to figure this out.