Major Update? Missing Links to Google+ Local Pages and New Review Windows


Linda Buquet

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I think I just discovered another major update or likely an additional aspect of the update that people started talking about yesterday.

This one is related, but BIGGER in some ways. GOOGLE+ LINKS ARE NOW MISSING on Most Listings!

Need to be sure you know about the Review Window update folks discovered yesterday
then the new bigger issue is in the screenshots below.

Review Window update - When you look at Google search and click reviews, instead of taking you the the G+ Local page Google displays them in an overlay window, so you stay right in Google search. Andrew Shotland 1st posted about it and we are discussing here. And Alex did a post asking Is Google Abandoning Local Listings?

NOTE: There is no way to get to the G+ Local page from this new review window. If you have not yet, click Google reviews from Google search and see what happens.

How fast forward to a part of this update no one else has noticed yet OR maybe it's just rolling out.

PhaseOutGPlusLinks.jpg

Yes the Google+ Local links are missing on the majority of listings now too. So consumers can't even get to the page from search on most listings.

In the screenshot above only 1 of 7 in the pack has a link to the G+ L page. In past you could have clicked reviews to get to the G+ L pages. Now the clicking reviews brings the overlay window, with NO WAY to get to the G+ L page.

PhaseOutGPlusLinks3.jpg

To prove the G+ L link showing or not has nothing to do with # of reviews, check above. Even listings with over 100 reviews have no G+ link and no way to nav to G+ listing. Only 2 of the listings with no reviews have the G+ link.

I've checked a lot of listings and ranking order or # of review does not seem to play a part in whether listings have links to the G+ L page or not.

Even if you click photos in the knowledge panel on the right you can't get to the G+ L page. "From the owner" takes you back to search NOT to the G+ L page. Closing the image overlay takes you back to search. Has it always worked this way? In past after you clicked images, from there you could get to the G+ page, right??? Now you can't.

So NO WAY to get to the G+ Local page on the majority of listings.

UPDATE 2:30 - It appears the only pages that show a G+ link are merged social pages.
See comments from Greg Gifford and my expanded observations starting post #2 below.


Mike posted about the review change yesterday and the fact the Google is no longer taking you to G+ L to view the reviews. Google Looks to Keep Local Users at Google.com With Two Interface Updates

I commented:

People have been asking if Google is abandoning Google Local listings. I don’t think it is, per se. I think the pages will still be out there. It’s just that there will be no reason for consumers and potential customers to ever go there if she’s serving up everything they need to see, right on the main search results pages (or on maps).

So it looks to me like local is still important. Managing and optimizing your data in the Places for business dashboard is still important. Getting reviews is still important.

What is changing is just the ways that Google is going to display that data to searchers.
Mike replied:
Google isn’t abandoning local listings. If anything they are doubling down on them and making sure that the content is read and that folks give more reviews. They are just using their (very powerful) home page to do it.

This trend has been going on for quite a while with the rollout the local knowledge panel, the carousel, the debranding of local.

The increase of local data with the main data set is elevating local to the most visible of all google platforms.
So while I admit these missing G+ Links could possibly be a temporary glitch or something, it looks to me that this is part of an update rolling out that will surface more of the business data in Google search and make the G+ L pages either hard to find or possibly obsolete.

But again you still need to maintain your data in the dashboard, still need to add images, still need to get reviews and optimize what you can = because she'll show your data in Google main search results or the new maps info cards even if the G+ L pages are no longer front and center.


Still processing... not sure how I feel about this right now. Off to do more research and see if anyone else has noticed and is talking about this yet.

Just for grins one more screenshot below.





 
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Linda -

I kinda pointed this out in my blog post yesterday, but realize now that I didn't explain it fully.

What's actually happening is this:

The G+ link ONLY appears if a business has a social tab on their G+ Local listing - so they either have to have a "merged" page, or they have to have a recently claimed page with the social tab turned on.

That G+ link in the new update just points to their social tab - so if they don't have a social tab, there's no G+ link...

You can click the map pin to pull up the location in Maps, and then click the map listing to get to the G+ Local page - but that's a pretty convoluted method.

I'm guessing that they've analyzed all the user behavior data, and most people are just wanting to see reviews, so they're featuring them on the SERP - and if people want directions, they can click the map pin... so they're making a huge assumption that if a business doesn't have any social presence, there's no reason for anyone to go to the actual G+ page...
 

Linda Buquet

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Sorry Greg have had a family medical emergency + the big webinar yesterday so have not had chance to check blogs and didn't see your post.

Heading over to read it now.
 

Linda Buquet

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OK just did a quick skim and to be honest, I would not have picked up on the social page aspect if you had not mentioned it here I would not have realized what you meant or the significance.

I just need to double check to confirm that the listings in my screenshot have merged G+ pages. If you are correct and I'm sure you are, then that puts a whole different spin on things.

Wish I had known before I penned that whole long post. I would have done it much differently.

Checking... BRB.
 

Linda Buquet

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From quick spot check it appears you are right.

G+ Link if you have a merged or upgraded to social G+ page. (Regardless if you have reviews or not.)

No G+ link if you only have a G+ L page with no social. (Regardless if you have reviews or not.)

But if you have no reviews and no social page, then you do get a link that still goes to G+ L page.
(As in the case of the 2 Chicago examples.)

I'm guessing that they've analyzed all the user behavior data, and most people are just wanting to see reviews, so they're featuring them on the SERP - and if people want directions, they can click the map pin... so they're making a huge assumption that if a business doesn't have any social presence, there's no reason for anyone to go to the actual G+ page...
I'm also wondering if a side benefit to Google or another reason for this change is... reducing business owner support and complaints.

When the G+ L page was front and center everyone noticed if Google changed NAP or added weird cats or there was a bug. If the G+ L page fades into the background and is seldom visible or checked, the majority of SMBs will not notice those changes.

The other issue could be that this could force more businesses to upgrade to G+ if they notice that's the only way to get their G+ link to show up in the SERPs.
 

Linda Buquet

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Talking to Mike at his blog... he made a great point.

Mike said: "I think a business might get more web visits if the G+ link is absence. Might be a benefit."

I replied: "Great point! Back when local started I'm sure some businesses complained that Google was intercepting a click that could lead to their website and took visitors off to another Google page instead. This does cut out that extra click to that extra page."
 

Phil Rozek

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What Greg found matches what I've found, too.

By the way, one reason I'm confident that Google+ Local pages aren't going anywhere - and I don't think anyone's mentioned this:

Customer support.

Why would Google have finally gotten around to providing a little support as recently as in January, if they were going to phase out or play down Google+ Local listings? Between phone support, the MapMaker troubleshooter, and the new Places dashboard, Google has gone relatively far in getting their act together. They're not just going to scrap that. That's why - as I wrote in my post - we're just waiting for the other shoe to fall.
 

Scott Rawlins

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I can understand Mike's theory about clicking onto site instead of Google+ Local page, but does this mean we should start creating/merging into Business pages now? I'm just wondering if giving the consumer another option to get info about a business is a good thing.
 

Phil Rozek

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I can understand Mike's theory about clicking onto site instead of Google+ Local page, but does this mean we should start creating/merging into Business pages now? I'm just wondering if giving the consumer another option to get info about a business is a good thing.
In general, I'd say yeah, upgrade your Google+ Local pages to the fully-social variety

I'd also add that during this period when many businesses' Google listings are temporarily out of the "conversion funnel," it's worth paying extra-close attention to your landing page(s). Making sure you've got all the basic business info above the fold, making it as clear as possible what you want visitors to do now that they're on your site, and ideally throwing CrazyEgg onto your pages - so that you can track click patterns and scroll patterns.
 

Linda Buquet

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Good points all.

I agree I don't think G+ L pages are going away - just somewhat hidden and minimized. She's just taking the dashboard data we enter and reviews, that we are used to primarily seeing on the G+ page and displaying the data in new places and new ways like the sidebar, carousel, new review window and map info cards.

So there is no need for her to send searches directly to the plain G+ L page any more. But I guess she's still showing the link to the merged G+ pages to stimulate engagement and social.
 
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So where does this land businesses without a physical address that might be willing to engage customers on Google+ if allowed? Are we still restricted from merging because Google can't keep the address hidden on a merged page?
 

Linda Buquet

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Hi Daniel,

Once your listing gets the new dash they say you'll be able to upgrade to G+.
 
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In the last several weeks I got the new Google+ Local dash, and I have myself setup as a SAB with the address hidden.

I'm just curious if SAB's can now go fully social yet and grab that extra link to their (merged) Google+ page on the SERPs or if Google is going to hamstring SAB's visibility in yet one more way with these new changes.
 

Linda Buquet

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Oh you have new dash? Does it give you the option to upgrade to G+? My understanding is once you have new dash and once you get that option, you can go ahead and do it. But Google does not recommend doing the manual merge. I would just wait until you get that option.
 

Dave

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I noticed this late yesterday and appreciate the tight analysis as to why it is showing for some and not for others. I certainly didn't look for the details.

I'm with Mike. I suspect there were very few visits to the g+ local pages.--but of course google would know and we wouldn't. .....and to the extent visitors were clicking on the g+local page now...they won't and will instead go to the site and/or the reviews

One item we've noted from buyers: They get to reviews. They may get to our g+local reviews, they may get to yelp reviews. They may get to reviews on other review sites: they may get to our review pages.

If they are in the buying mode and want to find out about a business they get to reviews.

But again: to those that have studied this thanks for the clarification as to which sites are showing g+local pages and which aren't.
 
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I have the option to create a Google+ page from the places for business dashboard. Clicking on that link took me to the local business page creation process inside Google+ and they are sending me a post card. The address is showing on the Google+ Page but I am hoping once the verification goes through that becomes hidden.

In the verification process, they showed a map of my address and asked me to verify the address to send the post card to. The map displayed the centroid point of my SAB coverage area so it looks like there may be some additional checks and balances working now for SABs. We'll see once the verification PIN goes through.
 

Linda Buquet

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Yes Daniel they've improved things for SABs on G+ which is why folks were supposed to wait. Now that you have the option you should be good. Just check to be sure SAB are correct and G+ and you address is still hidden after you verify.
 

rossicone

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From quick spot check it appears you are right.

G+ Link if you have a merged or upgraded to social G+ page. (Regardless if you have reviews or not.)
I didn't realize that you could have a social G+ page without merging? What are the differences between the two and how do you get a social page without merging? Would you suggest this to get the Google+ page link to display?

Thanks!!
 

Linda Buquet

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I didn't realize that you could have a social G+ page without merging? What are the differences between the two and how do you get a social page without merging? Would you suggest this to get the Google+ page link to display?
There are 3 scenarios for the G+ social page.

You totally all along could have just a G+ Business page in the local category that has all the social features and is separate. But that page won't rank in the SERPS.

Manual merge or manually verify the G+ social page - merges it with the Place page so it ranks in search. (Google says hold off and do not do this right now! Wait for new dashboard)

New Places dashboard auto update to social with the G+ widget. This is what Google is saying you should wait for. If you have old dash still just hang tight and don't try to manually merge.
 

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