Google+ is now testing Google Hangouts for Businesses

Google announced last night that they’re pushing Google Hangouts out to a small number of select Google My Business accounts as a test. More details here can be found on this Google Answers page here.

Our first reaction when we saw these notifications come in was; why would a Google My Business page need to use Google Hangouts?

The more we thought about it however the more potential use cases we were able to come up with for Google hangouts. Especially when it comes to communicating with customers or potential customers.

From what we have seen in the past few months from Google, they’ve been making a big push to communicate better with their users. Everything from emailing you with a Google Analytics report to sending you an email when someone leaves a review on Google Maps / Google My Business page.

With that in mind this new test would seem to be right in line with the direction Google has been going. Adding Google Hangouts would also be another step toward being able to better manage your reviews in Google Maps.

Imagine as a business owner being alerted about a positive review and being able to reach out as the business in private and offer thanks. Better yet being able to deal with negative reviews by speaking directly with the reviewer as the business.

Overall we like where Google’s heads at with this test. As for if anyone will use this feature? Only time will tell.

Google Has Been Stepping Up Their Communication

google wants to talk to you

It feels like someone finally stepped up and told Google they’re not a good communicator and guess what … they’re listening! Across the board we have seen multiple Google properties making a wide effort to communicate better. For example Google Webmaster Tools is now sending how to “Improve the search presence of [your website]” emails on sign-up of a new website through Webmaster Tools, Google My Business is now sending any review your business receives to your inbox, and as of today Google Analytics has sent millions of emails outlining how well your website did in October.

These communications seem to be happening across the board regardless of context. For example I have been getting many reviews from Google My Business that have no actual content or review, just a plane 3 star rating from a user who doesn’t even have a picture. We have also seen these Google Analytics alerts come in for accounts with just a few hundred visits and some with millions of visits, but not all account have gotten these emails.

This isn’t a complete surprise given Google put out an ad for a Marketing Automation expert about 3 months ago. Originally we had speculated that these ads were for looking for someone to handle marketing on the B2B side, helping to bring in more Adwords advertisers based on the fact that one of the ads that was shown was looking for a Marketo Marketing Automation specialist. However it appears they have been busy building their email campaigns around their free services.

Overall it looks like Google has got the message that not being able to call or get customer service on things like Google Analytics leaves the patrons of the service lacking the warm and fuzzies we get from a lot of other services that took the time to set up 1-800 numbers. Even if they do just route to a country we can’t find on a map and connect us to someone with an accent we have to strain to decipher.

The three main emails we have seen coming out in the past month for the services mentioned above are:

Google Webmaster Tools:
This email comes on the signup of a new Google Webmaster Tools account. It’s delivered to the messages section of Google Webmaster Tools as well as coming straight to your inbox. It outlines the things you should be doing to make sure your website shows up more. At least that’s what they say it’s about. Really it just is a reminder to set the location or your site, the non-www and www versions of the site and a few other basic Webmaster Tools items. Either way I suppose it’s a useful list.

google-webmaster-tools-email

Google Analytics:
This email seemed to have gone to a lot of Google Analytics accounts but not all and we couldn’t pin-point which accounts were targeted to get these emails. They basically provide a nice summary of how well your site did through the month of October via some nice Google Analytics data with some pretty charts and graphs. Below are some snapshots of one of the emails we received.

google-analytics-email-top

social media stats google analytics email

*Note: the screenshots above don’t reflect the whole email. It was quite long so I only grabbed some of the sections I liked.

Google My Business:
Finally Google has been sending more emails to users of Google My Business which we have wrote about in the past. You can find that post here: You Just Got a Review In Your Email?

All in all we like the new level of communication and extra effort from Google. At this rate maybe one day I will be able to call Google and ask them why my Google Analytics ecommerce reporting isn’t working correctly. At least we can dream right?

You Just Got a Review on Google Maps … In Your Email?

It was recently announced that Google is going to be giving Google My Business users the opportunity to respond to negative reviews through the Google My Business platform. Today was the first day we got a peek into how that functionality will work.

Google sent out millions of emails today informing business owners of reviews that were left on their Google Maps listings.

Google has been sending both positive and negative reviews in emails with a call to action prompting readers to click to read the review, call Google customer service, or view their help center.

The blue “Read Review” link requires you to be logged into the email address of the Google Listing where the review was left. The remaining two links included in the email take you to the Google help page. One of those links opens an email contact form on the page the other … tells you what Google My Business is?

Either way, while the content of the email is a little spares we feel it’s a step right direction for Google in providing business owners with more tools to address both positive and negative reviews through the Google My Business platform.

1 star Google Review Email

Google Update Last Night Has Left a Large Number of Google Maps Locations Unverified

The morning of 11/04/2014 we saw a large increase in Google My Business listings getting unverified. As much as 0.4% of Google My Business listings we’re effect.

As of yet we have not been able to identify any similarities between listings that have became unverified and those that were not affected. This seems to span new listings and ones that have been around for years. There also doesn’t seem to be any link between which listings were affected and spammy citations or any of the other usual suspects in a typical Google update.

The Google My Business pages that were unverified are displaying a warning saying “your page is disabled and won’t appear on Google.” The link accompanying the message leads here: https://support.google.com/business/contact/local_pages_disabled

Google warning message

The linked Google page doesn’t seem to offer any answer as to why this issues has been occurring other then the page may have not met Google’s quality guidelines or been “spammy.”

Based on our manual review of a number of these listings there doesn’t seem to be anything obviously spammy or low quality that would cause an issue like this. Google customer service also doesn’t seem to have an answer yet as to why this has happened, which leads us to believe that these listings have became unverified based on an error on Google’s part.

We expect these listings will be reverified within 3-4 weeks. In the mean time you might be able to speed up this process by contacting Google Customer service here: https://support.google.com/business/#topic=4539639

If you happen to have any insight into this issue please let us know at support@reportpro.net and happy optimizing.