Google’s integration of Google Places and Google+ has been a lengthy process. It looks like Google is ready to take the next step in the integration process by announcing that they will be rolling out a new dashboard for Google+ Local in the “Coming Weeks”. Google is offering client early entry into the new dashboard by submitting you email address to Google. Click Here to get the process started for your business!
The design of the new dashboard will look much different than the current Google Places look. Aesthetically, the dashboard will look much more like the current Google+ layout. Very clean looking and white in color. Functionally, it will make it easier for Business Owners to manage most of their Google Products in one place including Google Place Business Listing, Google+ Page, Google AdWords and Google Offers. This means you will finally be able to add posts and photos to your Google+ page while logged into Google Places! The different products are broken into different widgets along the left side navigation. The fact that Google is using a widget functionality leads us to believe that more widgets for more Google services will make their way into the navigation in the future.
One of the bigger changes being made to the Google Places Listing is the Categories section. You will now be able to enter up to 10 categories relating to your company, however, there is a catch. Google will no longer allow custom categories to be entered. You will have to find the category the closest fits your business. This is something most SEO’s will be displeased with because you will no longer be able to enter the services that you provide as a category. For example, an old category you may have had would be “Low Sodium Deli Meats”. This will no longer fly and you will have to use something generic like “Food Distributor”.
Lastly, Google claims that updates will be published much faster than before. “Most edits made via the upgraded user interface now appear on Google Maps and our suite of other services within 48 hours. As before, we may continue to moderate changes to ensure the highest quality local experience.” Currently, it can take weeks for updates to be published, especially with photos. This sounds very promising that they are promising quicker update times, but I’ll believe it when I see it!
Overall, Google is definitely headed in the right direction with this latest integration. Most business owners aren’t experts on computers, the internet or Google. They need to spend the vast majority of their time focusing on daily business operations. By getting all of their Google products located in one spot, under one login, it will make their lives much easier. It remains to be seen how this will affect the SEO world moving forward. I see the Category changes being an issue down the road, but if updates are published quicker and there is only one place to login for all products, this will save SEO’s from some headaches.