Google+ Local for Business Updates: Return of Categories and Fake Reviews

Posted by on Feb 7, 2013 in Algo Changes, Google Maps, Google+

The Return of Categories… Maybe

During this week, I have had the opportunity to verify four locations via the Google+ Local system. If you are not familiar with the new verification process for Google+ Pages, let me give you a quick run down. Similar to the way the system worked before in Google Places, you complete a listing (in this case a +Page designated during the setup as a “local business”), click the verify this business button and wait for a Google PIN post card to arrive at the location specified in the Google+ Page listing. Once the PIN arrives, you visit your management screen or navigate to www.google.com/local/verify/ and enter the PIN.

What seems to have changed recently is the return of categories. Categories were available throughout the original Places and Local systems until Google+. In the screenshot below, you’ll see the screen that popped up on 2 out of the 4 listings I verified.

Google Testing Screen Shot 2013-01-29 at 11.37.27 AM

Is this a test of a new set of options available after verification? Possibly, or just an A/B test of possible changes. The categories haven’t shown up on the front-end (public side) of these listings so it is unclear what Google is doing with Google+ Local and categories.

This is just another change that small businesses will have to make the most of. It could be a good thing seeing that there aren’t a lot of useful categories when setting up a Google+ Page for a business that doesn’t fit the few options currently in the setup. Still frustrating though…

Speaking of local businesses — have you heard the news?

Reviews and You.

Without getting into too much technical talk, Google has made it clear; they want authentic data reviewers and their reviews. In the past businesses have tried to meet clients where they were, meaning in the office and collecting paper reviews then posting by proxy these authentic reviews for clients that were technology declined or unwilling to digitize their review. Enter the post in the Google forum and review algorithm change outlined in the statement below:

For SEOs:

If a business accepts paper comment cards it might be tempting to collect them and “digitize” them by posting the reviews on Google+ Local. We ask that all reviews come from first hand experience and do not allow posting reviews on behalf of others.

- Care of “Dasha“, Google Employee.

Additional Resources:

  • http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2241393/Google-Warns-SEO-Businesses-to-Avoid-Fake-Reviews
  • http://support.google.com/plus/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=2622994&topic=2624941&ctx=topic

The Wrapper

*In my 3-6 Mafia voice* Google is making it hard for everyone. From reviews to the verification, there seems to be a new change every five seconds (not literal). As interesting and entertaining as it maybe to have business owners dancing on hot coals, SEOs pulling their hair out, and users giving all types of data, these types of hurdles make it harder for everyone to reach the goal that is at the core of the search giant; the answer to a question. Reviews offer insight into the experience of others that, most likely used, the Google megaplex to answer their query. To complicate the process of exemplifying good businesses makes no sense because it creates a lack of confidence in the system that starts at users and continues through businesses all the way to Google’s bottom-line in the end.

There are a number of solutions they could implement versus complicating the review process. One simply being requiring a secondary email or phone number. Payday loan places don’t make it this hard to get cash in hand, why is Google requiring blood for a review?!

Mike Ramsey has a great infographic that makes a lot of sense of the non-sense.

http://niftymarketing.com/why-small-businesses-hate-google-plus-local/

A. Chris TurnerAbout the Author: Chris Turner is also known as ChocolateSEO. CSEO is Chris' Nashville search marketing and consulting service offering a variety of services to help you, your company and any website maximize web-based marketing opportunities. He is the father of three girls, one boy (finally) and husband to the wonderful Savannah. Join the author's circle: Chris Turner on Google+.