Community

Share your automotive expertise

2 Write a Blog Post

Filed in: Marketing, Internet/BDC

What Dealers Need to Know About the New Google Places Dashboard

By Cobalt on Apr 25, 2013


Mary Kelly Gaebel Cobalt Reputation Management Specialist
by Mary Kelly Gaebel, Reputation Management Specialist

Google+ Local
This month, Google announced that the upgraded interface that will replace the Google Places Dashboard is now available for new users. This long-awaited update brings a new look and feel to Google Places for Business and is designed to make it easier to edit your business listing and track the status of those edits--- something that has been long overdue and eagerly anticipated.

As an automotive reputation management specialist, I work closely with my clients to monitor, manage and edit their listings, drive traffic to them, and keep them updated with fresh content.

I can tell you that I’ve seen it all; from merged listings, to deleted listings, to reviews disappearing and more! It's been a labyrinth of pain, frustration, escalations, hours spent in the Google forums, and hair pulling. So you can imagine that my initial reaction to the new update was one of relief and excitement.

The updated dashboard will be rolled out for existing businesses in phases. In the meantime, Google encourages current Google Places Business users to...

"Sit tight and continue to use Google Places for Business to update and edit your listing. The update currently affects new users only. Please do not make new accounts/pages for listings that already exist. Please know that the update will be gradually rolling out to existing Google Places for Business users like you in the coming weeks." - Google

While we wait, I've done some research on this topic and here are my takeaways. Overall, the change will be a good thing. However, be warned. It's not perfect. Not just yet. You still may find yourself in the Google product forums suffering through the occasional hair pull. Let's look at the not-so-good news first.

The Less Than Ideal News

No Custom Categories


Categories are a factor in Google's determination of the relevance of a business listing. With the new updates there is no longer the option to have custom categories--- instead Google will provide a fixed list of choices.

No More Enhanced Data

Often customers want to know if a business has a parking lot, carries multiple brands, has special accommodations, etc. The feature that once allowed us to add this information will no longer be available. However, it will help that a longer description field is now provided and can include some of this information that used to be found under "Additional Details." Google Enhanced Data

No More Videos... Kind of


Video uploading will only be available if your business has a Google+ Local page in ADDITION to a Google+ profile. If you want videos, start getting familiar with Google+.

Photo Publishing Still Delayed


There was hope that the new and improved dashboard would allow for photos to be uploaded much quicker. But it looks like it will still be weeks until your newly added photos will be published.

No Improvement to Hours Listings


It's been requested over and over to allow for split and seasonal hours, but this enhancement did not address this concern.

Now the GOOD News

Better Integration with Google Products


Several of the new features in the dashboard make it clear that Google intends to continue fighting for a larger chunk of the social medium, hoping to compete with the likes of Facebook, all while keeping Google products relevant and top of mind. That's good news for business owners as the new dashboard will offer a one button Google+ page set-up AND manager widget, a Google Adwords Express widget, and a Google offers widget--- all together in the same place!

Google Dashboard Integration

"The upgraded interface is simpler and more intuitive, so the process of updating your business information is quick and easy." - Google

Edits will go live faster


Most edits made via the upgraded user interface now appear within 48 hours! (with the exception of photos)

Status Updates for Edits Now Available


The updated dashboard will now notify you when edits need to be approved and/or are pending. I can't tell you how excited I am about this feature. It means I can now rest assured that my edits are not getting lost in the Google abyss and I can now communicate to my clients about more accurate timelines for when edits will be published.

Throughout the dashboard you will find several visual cues in various places that alert you to the status of your edits. If you've ever waited 6-8 weeks to simply update say, a business category, and wondered if Google ever really got the changes, now you'll have proof that you're not crazy--- you did make the edits and Google did receive them.

Google Notifications

A New Widget to Help You Optimize Your Listing


In the new dashboard, you'll get an "at a glance" view of how much more you need to add to your listing to have a fully optimized business profile. Having a complete online business profile is not only customer friendly, but SEO friendly as well.

google4_listing_optimization

Drag & Drop Functionality


While it will still take time for photos to upload, there is more ease now to adding photos.

Google Drag and Drop Functionality

No More 200 Character Limit


The 200 character limit in the description field has been removed and you can now add rich text. There is also the ability to add links to your description.

Google Character Limit

10 Categories


Even though the option of custom categories has been removed, businesses will be allowed to select up to 10 categories with this new upgrade, as opposed to 5 in the old dashboard.

More Contact Options


Notice that chat, AIM and the option to add more contact info have been added.

Google Contact Info

Multi Business Management Interface


This is big. A business can no longer be claimed into multiple accounts. Once a second business has been entered, the user is shown a multi business management tool. This is amazing, as it appears you’ll be able to not only manage your business listings, but the Google+ pages for those businesses as well--- all in one place and with one log-in!

Google Multi Business Management

Have you ever experienced the "respond to review" feature missing from your listing, disappearing right when there's a negative review that needs a business comment stat? Often times the respond feature is removed when businesses have multiple log-ins and it's not clear to Google as to who the owner of the account is. The person who last logged in becomes the owner of the listing and is the only one who can respond to reviews, regardless of whether you also have access to the listing. This simple change will alleviate a big frustration. It also means no more multiple log-in screens and passwords to edit and manage all of your Google properties--- a big time saver.

For help & more information, visit the Google Forum to get your questions asked and answered! Also be sure to always check what Mike Blumenthal, local search and all things Google expert, is up to. Much appreciation to Mike for most of the images of this new roll out. For a complete visual walkthrough, check out Blumenthal’s visual guide blog post.


The Street Smart Guide to Automotive Reputation Management


This insight-packed eBook includes more do's and don'ts on the most popular review sites, the top myths in automotive reputation management, and compelling data on the proven impact of reviews in the car-buying process.
Download eBook

About the Author

Mary Kelly Gaebel Cobalt Reputation Management Specialist Mary Kelly Gaebel is a Reputation Management Specialist at Cobalt, proactively monitoring and managing dealerships' online reputations while working with dealers to increase dealership awareness and branding via social media outlets. She has a B.A. in Communications from the University of Washington. Feel free to reach out to Mary Kelly directly at mgaebel@cobalt.com.

Comments

Thank you for an informative and timely post!

Apr 26, 2013

The key to this update is it is for "new users" only at the moment. Those of us with long ago verified Places listings and G+ Local business pages will have to wait awhile before we see it in our dashboard.

Apr 26, 2013

Comments 1 - 2 of 2

You must be logged in to comment

Login Create an account

Add your comments:

   

Cobalt's Recent Posts

Related Posts

  • Creating an Effective Email Marketing Strategy for a World of Mobile Users

    Mobile phones are a fact of life, and are growing fast. A 2014 Pew Research Center study found that smartphone use among US adults grew from 35% to 56% from May 2011 to May 2013. With growth that fast, dealers need to think mobile – it is definitely the future of our business! Read post

    By Cobalt on December 17, 2014

  • Announcing: Dealer Engage Sonar

    Dealer Engage is excited to announce the launch of Sonar, a powerful lead tracking tool which provides complete behaviour and activity tracking to enable businesses to create highly effective targeted campaigns. Read post

  • 15 Candles On Our Cake

    Digital marketing company IMN (iMakeNews Inc.) celebrates its 15-year anniversary as a turnkey email newsletter and marketing service that helps automotive retailers create and distribute newsletters affordably, efficiently, and effectively. Read post

  • Inventory Photos – VDP Photo Ideas

    It’s common knowledge that a bulk of the selling on a dealer’s website occurs on a vehicle display page (VDP). Inventory photos of the actual vehicle are an aspect of a VDP that many dealers fail to give enough credit. Many times, this is the main selling point of the entire VDP! The first thing a dealer should do is look for stock photos in their website VDPs. These should be replaced with photos of the actual vehicle being sold as soon as possible. One does not need an expensive camera to take great inventory photos. Most modern cameras (including phone cameras) should suffice – provided the photos are all taken at uniform aspect ratios and in decent lighting. The best VDPs have 10 or more photos of the vehicle. The main photo should show the best angle of the automobile, and could be a profile shot or a 3/4 shot of the driver’s side. For dealers that are unsure of what other kinds of inventory photos to take, some options for exterior shots might include straight on, lowe...Read post

  • More Traffic or Better Converting Websites? Why Choose?

    In our blog post about the two ways dealers can increase leads, I talked about the differences between driving more traffic as a strategy versus improving your websites ability to generate leads from the traffic it's already getting. This is on our blog and obviously I'm going to lean towards our own expertise when posting to my website, but here I'd like to point out the obvious: you don't have to choose one or the other. Why can't we have both? When I was a sales manager, I would hear about how this advertising campaign brought in weaker traffic or that campaign brought in too little traffic. We were always searching for the goose that would lay the golden egg - better foot traffic and more of it! Now that everything has gone digital, the old complaints are manifesting in the form of lead generation. Driving more shoppers to your website can help you generate more leads and improving the way that website converts them can do the same. Let's look at the math to see which is bett...Read post

  • Don’t Be So Serious!

    A little over a month ago, a couple of employees at a car dealership in Illinois published a music video on YouTube titled “Keys In A Box,” which parodied a sketch from Saturday Night Live. These two individuals proceeded to have a great time and showcased their dealership in a creative and fun way. Their reward? Over 67,000 views in just one month, as well as compliments from Jalopnik, Edmunds and AdWeek. I wouldn’t be surprised if this helps place the dealership top-of-mind when a local customer is ready to buy their next vehicle.       Having fun with your branding and being creative with any videos can help you stay top-of-mind with your customer base. Think of the Volkswagen commercial that debuted a few Super Bowls ago – the one where the little kid dressed as Darth Vader and ran around trying to use the “Force.” It was a huge hit and created a lot of media interest and created quite a firestorm on social media.   But why do videos like these stay in our m...Read post

  • Pop Quiz - Are you a Jay Prichett dealership or a Phil Dunphy dealership?

    ABC's Modern Family takes on a controversial subject: How painful (really) is the dealership experience. This popular show should have dealers everywhere thinking about their own consumer experience. If you missed it, here's a short recap as well as questions you should be asking yourself to make sure you are not a "Jay" dealer.Read post

  • Software vs Strategy and the Power of Insanity in the Face of Oblivion

    From a business perspective, there's really only one choice for marketing vendors. Software sells. It's easier to sell to businesses, particularly in the automotive industry. It's easier to sell a software company to a larger entity. Software is scalable. Strategy is too confining. Strategy relies too much on people. It isn't scalable in most circumstances. Unlike software, the more that dealers start using a particular strategy, the less effective it becomes. Anyone wanting to build a successful digital marketing company in the automotive industry should definitely choose building software over building strategies. To build a company that's based upon strategies is absolutely insane. I like being insane. It's good for the digestion. Car dealers have the potential luxury of being able to take software and build strategies around them. Vendors can as well, but it's much riskier to do so. There are several companies who were built around the concept of supplying like-gated contests ...Read post