How to Google your Business – The Great British Hangout


google your businessThis is the recorded YouTube video and full transcript from a Hangout On Air covering Google My Business and what it all means to small business owners and brands. Here are the full cast and credits, followed by the video and transcript:

 

Hosted by: The Great British Hangout
Host: Kath Dawson of Strategy Digital, a digital marketing agency based in Bristol
Host: Peter Lunn from Cracking Media, a digital marketing services company in Bournemouth
Guests: Donna Beckett from Beckett & Co Solicitors and myself

 

Kath:               Good evening. Welcome to The Great British Hangout. Our topic tonight is how to Google your business. Google Maps, Google Places, Google Local, brand pages, local pages and now Google My Business. It’s very confusing which pages you need for your business. Tonight, we’re going to clarify it all. What we’d like to do tonight is get some outcomes for you guys who are watching. What we’re hoping to achieve is that you’re going to be very clear about what is the best setup for your business. We want you to be confident about what you need to do to sort it out or we want you to be reassured that you have it right because you might have it right.

Before I introduce our guests, I’d like to check in with Peter who’s my glamorous assistant this evening and he’s going to be doing the comment wrangling. Peter, how’s it going?

Peter:              Good, Kath. Thank you very much. Yeah, we’ve all been sitting here trying to keep cool I think. It’s been a very hot day. As guests we have you around the world. In fact it might be worth saying where you are in the world. If you’re in the comment stream, just tell us where you in the world. Tell us the temperatures and the weather where you are today so we got a weather check as well, so extra value from The Great British Hangout tonight.

Kath:               Well it’s super hot with me I have to tell you and getting hotter by the second. Okay. What I’d like to do is introduce our guests for tonight. We have with us Nick Rink. Nick is a local search expert. He’s also our technical lead for tonight. He runs Smart Local Marketing which does what it says on the tin. He’s based out of Wimbledon. Nick has a lot of ties apparently and he responds to the name Rinkle. Nick, would you like to say hi.

Nick:                That nickname … I always thought was private. I didn’t realize it was set to public on my profile. I’ll have to change that.

Kath:               Sorry.

Nick:                That’s all right. Yeah, I’m based here in Wimbledon, South West London and basically living down here and working with Smart Local for about, what is it now, four and a half, five years. I’m primarily dealing in that space that is, well what was Google Places and is now morphing into Google My Business, and helping a variety of businesses both locally and up in North West a little bit which is where I’m from originally as well. Great to be invited on the show, I’m really looking forward to it.

Kath:               Excellent, it’s fantastic to have you. Thank you for joining us. Our second guest is Donna Beckett. Donna is a lawyer first and a confessed social media addict second. Donna is going to be representing the business owner perspective in this discussion. She’s based in Chorley in Lancashire, another northern last and has been running Beckett and Co Solicitors for 13 years. Many of you will know Donna from the UK Connect Community where members are fondly referred to as the #BritPack. Donna, do you want to say hi?

Donna:            Hello, hello. Yes, thanks very much Kath and Peter for inviting me to join you tonight. I will just say to everybody this is my very first live Hangout On Air. I can’t believe that Kath actually convinced me to do this but she did, well done. Yes, I’m here as a business owner. I am a social media addict. Anybody who knows me will know that I’m a particular advocate of Google+. I think it’s absolutely brilliant as a platform and I am on a mission to get the UK Plussing. Hopefully our Hangout tonight will encourage some people who perhaps are a little bit unsure about using the platform to jump in and join us.

Kath:               Excellent. That’s what we’re all about. That’s also what The Great British Hangout is about so thank you for that. Come on guys, let’s get involved. Okay. What we’re going to do with our veritable feast of accents that we’ve got going on here. I hope you can keep up with us. We’re going to get cracking. We’re going to hand over to Nick. He’s going to tell us more about what Google My Business is and what it means for local business. Nick, over to you.

Nick:                Right, thanks Kath. Yes as you said I mean it’s great to see some familiar names and faces from all around Google+. Keep those questions coming in. It’s great to get some additional questions coming. There’s already been some on the comment stream, so it’s nice to have those as well. Right, here we are now at Google My Business which has been quite a journey for lots of us. Google started their local listings back in about 2004 which then became the Local Business Centre, which then became Google Places, and then a couple of years ago Google+ local came about.

Google My Business as it is now so it’s been coming for a while and basically what it’s done is it’s given businesses a portal through which they can much more effectively and simply control their data, get access to some good insights, would be access to AdWords Express in there and connect to a whole variety of additional Google products, YouTube for instance and things like that. What’s relatively new about this whole thing is the social aspect of these local pages. I’ll just leave that aside for one minute and just talk about what’s really important and that’s effectively the data.

There’s lots of cosmetic changes to Google My Business, that’s effective to what it is. What it hasn’t changed is what Google knows about your business. You still have to tell them that to a certain degree. The data that is in Google My Business gets fed in to lots of additional Google products so it goes into Google search, goes into Google Maps, it affects Google mobile. As we get more into Google wearables like things like Glass and smart watches that are coming in the future all of this data is going to feed into that as well. It’s going to become even more important than it already is.

Now, Google’s primary objective with this is to try and make sure that every single place that they have on Maps is accurate. Their whole thing with Google Maps is that you can go from point A to point B but not get lost whether you’re walking, whether you’re taking public transport, whether you’re driving, whether you’re taking a plane. You go into Google Maps and you can plot from Brighton to New York and it will give you all the flights on, it’s amazing. All about stuff is what it’s about. In order to get that information, they go to a variety of sources that they trust where they can either access or buy that information.

Here in the UK, you got places like Company’s House, the Royal Mail are sort of the biggie ones. You’ve also got other data companies, a couple of the important ones would be The Local Data Company and another one is Factual. The Local Data Company is British, Factual is based in the States. These guys sell data not just to Google but elsewhere as well. Google then looks to all that available data for each business and they cluster it all together and they compare it for accuracy and then use that along with the variety of other factors in the local search results. With me so far?

Kath:               Yeah.

Nick:                I’m just checking. The issue is if you have any inaccurate data about your business out there on the web, it causes confusion and that potentially has a knock on effect to how visible your local listing is in local search. If for instance you’ve moved location or you’ve changed phone numbers or you’ve re-branded so you got a different business name. All of that needs to be carefully managed so that you can make sure that the data Google is looking at, not just what you provided through Google My Business, but elsewhere around the web is all up to date and consistent. If you get all about sorted then you can really start moving into the social aspects of what’s relatively new for these, specifically the local pages at least anyway, and really start to kick on and connect and engage with other individuals and other businesses, and grow your business that way. Which kind of brings us back to the start I think which is initially determining what kind of page is best for your business. I think that kind of brings us back to that sort of point.

Kath:               Okay. Let me just ask you a question. With Places and the data that Google has, a lot of companies will have pages already created that they haven’t created. It is correct so basically you need to work out whether you’ve got a page already.

Nick:                Yeah.

Kath:               Do you have to claim that page or work with that or just start from scratch and create a new page?

Nick:                If there’s a Page that’s already out there for you then that would have been created through the data that Google have about you and your business or it may have been created by through some of the other Google products. For instance you can, there’s a product called MapMaker where it’s a crowdsourcing platform effects so that you can go in there and create anything for map so you can create places. For new businesses that are literally brand new, that’s one way to go but the best way to figure out whether you actually have the page already when you logged into Google, you go to the pages in the navigation down the left-hand side and just go into that create page which well then take you to a screen where you can search for your business. It shows up then claim it because if you start from scratch, you run the risk of actually having duplicates and that can be a almighty pain that sorts out. The system as is now makes that less likely to happen because through Google My Business, the way that it sort of flows is you actually have to search for your business initially anyway. You can’t just go in and set it up.

Kath:               Okay. If there’s a Place’s page that’s being created awhile ago and you’re not aware of it. The best place to go and look for that is go to Google+, go under the local tab on the left-hand and then search in there the name of your business and see what comes up.

Nick:                Yeah, I mean there are a variety ways of doing it but that’s always a good spot to start. I mean you can always go to Google Maps and do a search on there and access your Google+ page through that way and then claim it that way as well. There’s a variety different ways to go. I mean Google Maps is a good way to go just have a look and then have another look on Google+ as well just to make sure.

Kath:               Okay. There’s a little button I think on there. It says, is this page yours? Do you want to claim this page and then you click on that and you follow the instructions and then you can own that page.

Nick:                Exactly. Yeah.

Kath:               You can only own that page if you actually own the website that’s associated with the company names so you can’t go around planning other people’s pages.

Nick:                You can’t verify them.

Kath:               But you could claim them?

Nick:                You can claim the account and verify them.

Kath:               Right.

Nick:                Which means there’s no way that should be taking ownership of it.

Kath:               Okay. Just so people understand what does verification mean and how did you know if you page is verified or not.

Nick:                Verification, that’s basically … You go through the claiming process. You say, this page is yours and it basically takes, you just follow the instructions and you get verified. Most of the time these days, it’s verification through PIN which arrives haphazardly via postcard and usually takes about two to three weeks to show up. There are a few issues running around at the moment. Then once that postcard shows up, it basically ends with your pin number, that page is yours. What you’ll then see next to your business name on your page is a little verified check.

Kath:               Right, okay. Basically people are looking to find their page if it’s out there and claim it and verify it and then it’s under their control. How do they then access that page after that?

Nick:                After that they can access their page again through the left-hand navigation menu actually on Google+. There’s a little tab that says Pages. If you click on that, it will take you to all of the pages that you own or manage. As a business owner, you always want to make sure that you own the page. If you have marketing person or an SEO person who is claiming the page on your behalf. The postcard will still be sent to you as the postcard gets sent out to the actual business address. Whoever actually goes initiates the process is the page owner. Does that make sense?

Kath:               Yeah.

Nick:                Okay. Then gets verified. Once it’s been verified the business owner, you want to make sure if it’s a marketing person or SEO person, like myself, that we then transfer, we then make you a page manager and then transfer ownership with that page to you because it is important for the business owner to be the page owner. What can happen and what has happened in the past is that the marketing people or maybe somebody else at the business has claimed that page with a particular e-mail address. They then left the business. There will be no e-mail address and no access to change anything and it’s very difficult to get control back.

Kath:               Yeah, that’s our experience a lot actually, a lot of ex-employees have control and nobody really knows.

Nick:                Yeah.

Kath:               Sorry. Do you think that Google My Business then helps to bring all of these pages together under control and visibility and it just makes it all easier to manage?

Nick:                I think that’s exactly what it does. It does make the whole process a lot easier to manage that the platform itself is easier to understand. There should be less confusion and you can actually have multiple page managers of individual pages. You have one page owner but you can have multiple page managers which in certain businesses that make a lot of sense. You can have various different people doing various different things on the page.

Kath:               Okay. You have one owner but you can have up to 50 managers on a page.

Nick:                Yeah.

Kath:               A business can have multiple pages as well can’t they? They have brand pages and local pages. Why would you have different pages or would you not?

Nick:                If there is a local page for you then that’s generally the way to go, that’s what I would always recommend. I don’t really see if you have a local page, having a brand page as well, there’s not really too much benefit you kind of doubling up. The only time where that could make sense would be if you’re a franchise business or you’ve got business with multiple locations where you may also want to have a specific brand page as well. That would be the case there I think. Having an address, again, it gives you a certain amount of real estate when someone is going a brand search for you. If you have a local page showing up, if shows your location, it shows a variety of other things which is pretty useful.

Kath:               Okay. Super. What I’d like to do is bring Donna in and see what Donna, what’s your experience of Google Local pages. Do you have a local page?

Donna:            We do have a local page and it was setup by accident as a local page because I set my page up back in 2012. I can’t for the life of may remember what I did or what I didn’t do to set that page up but it turns out that it is a local page. Probably last year I got a little bit confused because there’s always been this confusion about pages whether we have a brand page or a local page. What is the page that we’ve got and I actually set up a brand page. I ended up a brand page. I realized that I didn’t need it. There’s my result, thanks Nick. I realize that I didn’t really need my brand page.

I now find that I have some duplicate pages and I think this is a problem that I came across when chatting to people about Google+ that people end up with the pages that Google themselves have created from Google Places and people themselves have setup Google local pages. They setup brand pages and there’s a lot of confusion as to what people should do when they have those multiple pages. I myself if I go into my page’s manager, I have about four different pages popping up. Two of them now are now sort of default pages that stand from my Google Places listings and then the others that just sort of there.

I did attempt to delete one of my pages, my default brand page and Google gave me a message saying “if you delete this account, everything will be gone” and I went into a major panic and said no. I just didn’t have the confidence to press that button because I imagine my profile and everything else disappearing. I kind of got a page there. The downside for me is because pages do show up in search and they do show up in Google+ searches. People do occasionally add my sort of dormant page to their circles and that can be a bit of an issue and you can find that people end up with more than one page and they end up with followings on both pages.

Obviously we can merge the pages to a degree now but we still got that issue I think with lots of people having default pages. Nick, no doubt he can tell us that if we press that delete button, will the world come to an end?

Nick:                I haven’t had the guts to do it.

Kath:               I have.

Donna:            Go ahead, go.

Kath:               Go ahead Nick. You tell us what your opinion is.

Nick:                No, seriously. I’ve actually, luckily not been in that situation. I’ve spoken to people who have and pressing that button is extremely nervy. So if you’ve been through it Kath, how was it?

Kath:               Okay. I’m going to tell you about it because I exactly don’t know what your explaining is what we did and I came to that page three times and I thought no, I can’t do it and I was so terrified. I said hang on. I keep coming back to this page. I’m sure I’m looking at the right page and it’s got all of them at the same company name and I thought how do I know that this is absolutely the right page. There are subtle differences between the instructions that it gives you. There’s subtle differences between each of the different ones and so you know that you are actually deleting the right page and when you do click delete, the different page is gone.

Do it, it doesn’t delete anything else. She’s says it’s fine, if it does … If the name is the same, it’s hard. It’s easier if there’s some slight difference in the title and maybe I don’t know changing the title on the page then following it through might give you a bit more confidence but we did have some being picked up in directories and kind of old addresses. We have these pages that were just local pages and not doing anything. That was when I looked in my Google+ My Business has all these pages and I said wow, where did these come from, I don’t want these anymore.

I did that, I got rid of number of pages were defunct and then I have a local page that was setup ages ago and I had a brand page that I had setup and actually by husband did setup the local page. He was the owner and I was the manger and so I have to switch the ownership over to me. There’s a two week gap, like a two week cooling off period. The ownership is then automatically switched over after two weeks. When all of the pages that you want to control and link together are under the same ownership, you can go to settings and there’s an option close to the bottom that says something like which Google+ page do you want this to be associated with?

I went to the local page and I looked at settings and I looked at that option and I said I want this to be associated with the Strategy Digital brand page. Then what happened was the other page kind of still stays there. It’s like a redirect but everything is pulled together. Effectively your local page inherits all your followers and you get a kind of local appearing page. You get a map, you get reviews, get all the benefits of a local page pulled in with your brand page. I think that seems like the right thing to do because then I have one page that has all the local stuff and also the social elements of it as well. So I hope I’ve done the right thing.

Nick:                Yes.

Kath:               I don’t know if I can then pick it but hopefully maybe I’ve done the right thing.

Nick:                Yeah, that’s the way to go. I mean that you basically go to local page into the settings and scroll away down to the bottom. If you have another page then that option that you mention will appear, if you don’t then it won’t. Would that make sense?

Kath:               Yeah. You got to pick the owner don’t you?

Nick:                Yeah, you do.

Kath:               Yeah.

Nick:                It’s not strictly a merge. It’s all that content comes over and then your original brand page just sort of stays over as a backup. It will still probably show in your pages menu when you go and log in.

Kath:               Yeah.

Nick:                Yeah.

Kath:               It does, it shows it’s listed as backup of Strategy Digital but it looks exactly the same.

Nick:                Yeah.

Kath:               It’s got all the same content and stuff. Donna, what do you think? Are you going to merge?

Donna:            Again, my issue with merging is that my local page has 1,500 plus followers and my brand page has about 10 or I don’t know, just a few dozen. I sort of looked at, at the merging option. All the examples that I see, it seems to be that the brand page stays there and inherits the local functions and local features of the local page but not necessarily the followers. That was my understanding. I may be completely wrong on that so that would be my only concern that if I sort of emerge the wrong way. There’s lot of people out there fortunately, they’ve got quite low follower numbers on both of their pages and probably I would definitely yeah, go for it at this stage.

I feel like I have something to lose with my current page. How many said that? I don’t really see because I do feel the benefits of having a local page. I don’t really feel that I’m missing out on features that I would have otherwise if it was merged with a brand page. I mean, is there anything in particular that I’m missing out on just having a local page?

Kath:               Nick, what do you think?

Nick:                I wouldn’t say so. I mean for bricks and mortar business, if you’re specifically trying to build and attract more business from your local community then it’s absolutely essential to have a local page because that’s effectively what local search is all geared for. Even if you’re looking nationally, there’s nothing you can’t do with the local page that you can do with a brand page, well very little at least. Some of the layout on the about tab is a little bit different but you have the ability to get reviews from clients and from other businesses which you don’t necessarily have with a straight up brand page.

Those reviews again add that sort of social value to those pages and hopefully help when people come along to your page and when they do a good job. Then you get a searcher who actually picks up the phone and become a potential client. There are lots of benefits to it. I mean socially you can do exactly the same with either of them so there’s no real difference concerned with that effect.

Donna:            I’m just noticing in the comments. Lee has just mentioned about vanity URLs, I mean that’s another issue isn’t it? A lot of people have claimed a vanity URL for their existing page and perhaps wouldn’t want to start merging with a different page that doesn’t have the vanity URL.

Nick:                I think that’s a really good point that lee’s brought up. I mean there’s other ways to get around the merging. I mean if you got a brand page that maybe it doesn’t have that many followers. You can just put one post on there saying, we’re not here anymore, we’ve gone over here. At least people will then go over that and follow you. The vanity URL issue is something that just seems to be just sort of out there at the moment. I’m not entirely sure what direction Google is going in on that. You’ll probably notice if you’ve got a .com website and you get a very nice clean vanity URL. Maybe got .co. UK, you can end up looking something else, it can end up looking a little messy.

Kath:               You also can’t change it.

Nick:                Right. Exactly.

Kath:               We send out where we brand it which is a real shine.

Nick:                With what they’ve done recently in terms of opening up the ability for individuals not having to use their actual name and they can use any name then that might suggest that some point in the future, they’ll open vanity URL’s and become a little bit more flexible with those too what I hope.

Kath:               That’s what I’m hoping for. All right. Let me bring in Peter who’s comment wrangling has been keeping an eye on what’s going on out there. What’s happening? Have we got anybody watching?

Peter:              Yeah. There are plenty of comments going on. It’s a little bit hectic. Actually I was thinking what questions do I bring up. I mean it’s interesting that Amelia Hoskins just said this, “She said Google told me that as much as possible on a local page, for search results” which I think is an important point because what Google is saying now I think is by the end of this year over 50% of searches would be on a mobile device. As far as local search goes or as far as search on mobile or a tablet, it’s much more localized, much more to figure out about. That’s would be important I guess, Nick.

Nick:                Yeah, absolutely. I mean if you’re trying to attract people. Again, if you do a restaurant or a bar or anything where you’re really trying to attract much specifically local people are walking in traffic. If you don’t have a local page, it’s going to be much hard to show up in the local search results. When you come to mobile even more important, if you’re invisible online, you’re in danger of becoming invisible offline. Not just with mobile, there are devices in the future. You’re wearing watches and all kinds of other things that the actual screen size that we can look at and the amount of data that Google can put on there is going to be tighter and tighter. Local pages, for local search is definitely the way to go. You can still target nationally with it so it’s not an issue with that.

Peter:              I think it’s actually what I’m just bringing up Donna’s, I can find it again. I think I lost it actually. Let me just see if I can find it just quickly.

Kath:               With Donna’s page, Donna’s label listing and what that actually looks like in search.

Peter:              Yeah. Can you see that now?

Nick:                There you go.

Kath:               Yes, yeah.

Peter:              I mean if you look at that in terms of the Knowledge Graph over on the right-hand side, it just shows a real value of putting … I know Donna you said it sort of just happened almost by accident but it shows the real value of that effort into that happening because you got your address, your phone number. You’ve got a number of the people that actually follow you on Google+ is a big signal to come over to Google+. You’re opening and your closing times, you pin in your map and so if someone search for Beckett & Co Solicitors in Chorley then what a perfectly at first, I mean new people think about having Yell.com pages or Hibu as it’s called now.

What a better way to have a really top branded free page on Google search, on first basically with search and it’s a really good and worthwhile thing to do.

Nick:                That knowledge graph actually also shows, a lot of the times it will show photos if you got those on your page like you just half the Google business view which is the sort of 360 virtual tour. That will show up live within that local knowledge graph as well. You can do a brand search and someone can click on that virtual tour and go straight into your business and have a good look around. For some businesses that’s really useful.

Kath:               Yeah. It’s quite exciting. We had that done today, filmed today. Hopefully it will all go smoothly in all the pair on our local page and you could actually be able to walk into our office, all the way through our offices and see basically the workings, blurred faces I believe.

Peter:              Vivek, he had a question. He just want to come back to that and he basically asked. If you are a franchisee, how to handle these pages? Nick.

Nick:                I guess that would depend on the franchise itself and how they manage things. Businesses with multiple locations, it can be tricky at the moment. A lot of these things are controlled back at a brand head office where they actually bulk verify all of their listings and at the moment there’s no way to then go in and individually, at the moment individually allocate managers to those pages and then run to them social. You tend to see a lot of pages certainly in the food, restaurant industry where they’ll just look like effectively an old Google Place’s page. There’s nothing going on, there are no real images but there would be a little check box by the name.

You know that it’s being verified and effectively those pages are all owned by that particular brand and at the moment like I said there’s no way to individually have page managers. That’s something that we understand Google are looking at and working on, it should be rolling out soon. For those businesses eventually any business that’s got multiple locations. I mean for bulk listings management, I think you need more than 10 or more pages. That’s effectively what’s coming. I’d keep an eye out for that because that would be happening really soon. The trick for those large organizations that now you have one brand page then you may have any one or two people managing it.

If you got 25 or 30 or even 50 locations, all of a sudden you’ve still got maybe two overall page owners but all of the sudden you’ve got fifty page managers out there and making sure that they all know what they should be doing. That’s going to be a bit of a change I think in something that I’m sure a lot of bigger brands and organizations have been looking at taking into account.

Donna:            I think that that opportunity is important. I’m very keen on stressing to people the importance of setting their social media profiles generally using their business e-mails and keeping that control and having the ownership where it needs to be. I supposed this is where social media policies become very important within businesses. Particularly when you’ve got a situation like this, just looking here in the comments and we’ve got an estate agent, Hodders Estate Agents. They trade in multiple locations and potentially have all of those pages.

I think there’s a temptation to handle a lot of pages because you want to show up in local search from the various areas that you’re trading in. Obviously one of the things you have to be aware is there’s not much waiting having pages if there’s nothing going on with those pages. You have page that needs to be some upkeep and a policy to make sure that there is some kind of consistency across the brand is really important.

Nick:                Yeah. You’ll have a local page regardless. It’s then a business decision as to whether you want to then take that page social and actually have it managed and then engage with potential clients, existing clients, other businesses and basically have fun with it too on Google+. That’s for individual businesses. For businesses where you’ve got maybe two or three locations, it’s going to be a lot easier to do. It’s going to be a lot easier decision to make then you got 50 or 60 or even more. Yeah, I mean you definitely want to have a local page for each location.

You will show up in search because there are lots of other factors beyond just beyond just the social aspects of it because you’ve got all of thesedirectories and citations out there, that will have you. It is then the answer to the individual owners as to how social they want to make it.

Donna:            Okay. Can I just ask a question? We’re talking about local pages here and obviously with the new my business setup. When you go into my business to create a new page, now, you’re given three options. You kind of given the shop front option for a static sort of bricks and mortar area and then you give an area option. How do the pages that cover an area rather than a specific address, how were they different and how does they sort of search function different for that type of page?

Nick:                Effectively they’re the same. The only difference is in the background, the service area businesses is a slightly different setup in the background. That effectively enables you to hide your address. If we look at say the shop front, that’s really the businesses that either want folks showing up at the door or for those businesses that see clients out their premises on a regular basis. The service area businesses, it really encompasses all the home based businesses. It enables you to have a listing and then hide your address and then set your service area. You say, I’m working from this particular house and I operate within a 25 mile radius of this house.

That’s what it’ll do. Again, in terms of the social aspects of the page and lots of other additional stuff that you can turn, you can still get reviews on the service area business page. You still have all the same social aspects of it. It’s really more down certainly Google’s guidelines too. If you’re in a business and you don’t see clients at that particular premise or you don’t see clients that have that location then their guidelines that will suggest, they tell you that you must hide your address in the service area.

Donna:            Sorry Kath.

Kath:               Go on.

Donna:            I’m just going to ask because obviously in terms of my business, we’re based in Chorley. We have a bricks and mortar address which shows on maps as we just seen but we actually, I mean we ask the clients on a nationwide basis so we’re not limited to clients. I mean obviously we prefer shall we say to service clients in our local area because I think it enables us to get a better service and a face to face service. Even in our local area, I consider our local areas to be the whole of Lancashire. We offer free home visits in the whole of Lancashire. We would want to target clients in that area. In terms of, by having a local page that sort of limits our address to Chorley, are we limiting ourselves? Should we have a service area of page instead to cover a wider area?

Nick:                No because the local search doesn’t really work like that. It’s all about proximity to where that particular search is coming from. Google knows where the search is coming from whether you tell it or not, whether you overtly tell it or not. You can do a search for solicitor in Chorley or someone in Chorley could just do a search or a solicitor and you’ll show up either way. If I was in Blackpool for instance and I did a search for solicitor in Blackpool then it’s unlikely that your local page will show up because Google will assume that if someone is in Blackpool, they’re looking for local businesses.

There are different ways to access different clients in other locations and that again is … It’s SEO ways to do it and there’s ways to do it around your website but this again is where the social media aspect comes into it. There’s no limit to who you can target because you can go out and find people wherever they are. On Google+ if you’re targeting clients in a particular location, you can create a circle for them and start putting out content specifically for them and draw them in that way. There’s a variety of different things you can do.

Kath:               Yeah. It’s a really good question though because the whole principle of local is that it is tied to your address and so therefore you have to have a physical trading address or premises address in order to have a local page.

Nick:                Yeah.

Kath:               You can’t just decide to create a local page somewhere else and they’re very strict to that nowadays.

Nick:                They are and it actually has to be a physical address. You can’t use PO Boxes. What they do occasionally is they may call you or one of their call centers may pick up the phone and give you a call and say who’s this. If you’re in PO Box and someone says is this Joe Bloggs & Sons or whatever? They say no, it’s not then they’ll suspend your listing and that would be that. You do have to be accurate with your information. I can post it in the screen again but I’ve posted it earlier today, I linked it to the Google Places or what was right now the Google My Business quality guidelines that effectively tell you all of the things that you need to do in terms of how your business should be listed, the data that you’re supposed to put in there and what sort of business models were ineligible for Google+ business page or local page, sorry.

Kath:               Okay. Brilliant. Peter, how are you in the comments?

Peter:              Yeah. Kath, there’s quite a lot coming through. There’s a question here from Vivek which he did post earlier. We still got the last one to come back to it because we’re talking about sort of localities and some pages. Vivek is asking privacy issues for solopreneurs working from home. Obviously if you’re running a business from home, you may have an issue with having a Google+ on Google My Business local page. What’s the take on that?

Nick:                If you’re working from home and you’re not seeing clients on your home then you need to set yourself up with a service area business and hide your address. Google still knows where you are but it doesn’t show it to the public.

Kath:               Okay.

Peter:              Okay. That’s great advice. Thank you.

Nick:                That’s something that you can do on Google that many other sort of citation sites, the sites like Yale and Yale, you can’t necessarily do that. There’s nothing advances for Google there.

Kath:               Yeah. It’s been transparent and authentic but still managing to protect your privacy.

Nick:                Yeah.

Kath:               Okay. Is there anything else on the comments? Any points that you think we might not have covered?

Peter:              Well, Lee Rickler was just commenting also in response to Vivek. If you run a business, you have no privacy issues. If you run a business you need to be transparent on your headquarter registered address. If anything it’s a legality.

Nick:                People can always find your address. If you’re a registered business then your address will be out there somewhere. That data is out there, is a question that we Google, through Google My Business. You have the ability to hide your address but people can do searches for you on companies house if you’re an [elicit 00:45:16] company. You can go to places like 192.com and effectively pay to get one, to get access to the [actual 00:45:23] role. Your rights are certain does not mean, it can be difficult.

The issue more is how many people are really going to go digging around trying to find out where your business is. If, or most of the major places such as your own website, Google+, some of the other social media places that the main place is where the people look for you as a business. You’re not showing your address there then if they go looking around then there’s probably bigger issues of thought.

Kath:               This might be one for Donna, I don’t know if this is they’ve got area of legal expertise but I think my understanding if you setup a business, or a small business you can have a registered address with your accountants. Your accountants could be across the country so actually wouldn’t need to give you around custom home address if you’re working from home. You might be giving your accountant’s address as … Am I right?

Donna:            That’s right, I mean certainly there … I mean you’re right it’s not my area of law but basically there are rules that say that if you’re certainly for limited companies you do have to state a lot of information. Basically all of the information about your business and including a registered office address on any promotional items on websites, on letterheads, that kind of thing. Yeah, the easy way around is to have your registered address with either an accountant or as I said a total it doesn’t have to be your home address. A registered office address quite often different to an address where somebody actually physically works or even possibly sees clients.

I know somebody who works from home, sees clients at home, but his registered office address is his accountant’s office in the next town, so it is possible to do that.

Kath:               What does that mean for local listing then? Do you have to put your registered address in or where you [crosstalk 00:47:31]?

Nick:                It’s your place of business, so it’s where you actually work rather than what you’re registered office, what your registered address is.

Donna:           Yeah.

Kath:               Ah. Would Google buy data that tells you that your registered address is somewhere else and create another local page for you?

Nick:                No, very unlikely. It wouldn’t do that, it yeah.

Kath:               Okay, Peter anything else?

Peter:              Yeah there’s a question also, I’m going to come back to you is just worth touch show and just until clearing up. Kaella Preston, if I got your name right there Kaella. Could a low follow number, where this is referring to the knowledge graph that we showed where actually shows how many followers you’ve got on Google+. Could a low follower number as a beginning page be somewhat detrimental in the search then with the knowledge graph?

Just to see where you set it up. I would say that’s just a small part of the knowledge graph. I think its Google way of it, obviously encouraging people to build up the Google+ brand page, certainly the fact that they’ve added to Google My Business as a side bar. My feeling would be that I don’t think it’s good main criteria. In fact you got a really solid good knowledge graph, and also as encouragement path to you to actually do a bit more work on your brand page.

Donna:            Yeah, I’ve been asked that same question at workshops. The fact that the follow account shows has sort of been a concern to some people because they almost … If you have a lot of followers it adds to your credibility, it’s that social proof that we’re all after. If you’re starting out and you’ve only got a few followers then people do get a little bit concerned that that could be detrimental. As you said Peter, I think that the key there is to try and boost those numbers and to work on your page. I mean we all talk about the fact that social media isn’t just about numbers but I think it’s naïve to think that social proof doesn’t come in to play at times.

I think that to put some math into a page and to try and get a reasonable following isn’t a bad idea particularly as all accounts do show up on these results pages.

Peter:              Yeah, and I think that’s the case. I think as you say follower account doesn’t really count in transaction engagement. Followers can mean nothing. The fact is it is a follow to thing. We like to have big numbers always. Now if you look at cameras it’s about the 400 times zoom which actually is pulling us and meeting us but it’s about big numbers that people are sort of a bit as it were [guided 00:50:18] by numbers. I think it, you said and I think, I mean Nick would you say it’s Google’s way of actually encouraging people to go on Google+ particular the fact they put Google+ as a side path to go one business?

Nick:                Yeah. I’m not sure why they show you the accounts and I know, I mean it can certainly be an issue. I don’t think it’s necessary an issue in the local knowledge graph there. It’s like many things, there might be businesses they will come as “Well I need followers or else I’m not going to look credible.” They’ll go out and they may use tactics, they’re all about getting numbers rather than getting quality. It’s the quality of the followers that you really want to focus on and as they start to grow the importance of those followers is to knock on the fact that they have potentially with the more personalized search results that we’re all starting, that we all get.

The fact that if you as a local business page are engaging and connecting with other people locally then people that they’re connected, that you may not be connected to will see your content as well. It just all helps to bring everything back in. That’s the main thing. I’d say for the moment, I mean Google+ is now familiar, just turned three years old but for a lot of people it’s still very new. I wouldn’t get hang up on follow account too much. Just like every other social network it’s about quality not quantity.

Kath:               Okay, we’re getting toward the hour. I don’t want to run over but I would like to kind of talk a little bit about the social aspects of what you do on this local pages. Maybe if I can come back to Donna in particular because I thought it was really interesting that you’ve got all these followers on your local page, you’ve also got brand page, you’ve got very strong personal profile on Google+. How do you balance your time with your brand page, with your local page? What’s most important? What kinds of things do you do without local page?

Donna:            Yeah, good question. I’ll be honest. I’ll hold my hand up and say that mainly I neglect my local page. I think we’ve had it in the comments tonight. The big question is on Google+, is it better to engage in as a profile as yourself or as a page. Most people find it easier to engage as themselves, well I certainly do. I approach my social media in the same way as I approach in real life networking. I think of it in terms of if I went to a networking meeting I would walk in as Donna Beckett. I wouldn’t walk in as Beckett & Co Solicitors. I would engage as myself. I would be myself. I wouldn’t just talk about business. I would talk about other things. I would be a person. That is what I intend to do on Google+.

The downside is that obviously even for someone like me, a complete Google+ addict, who spends a lot of time on there. It is hard to find time to engage yourself and to find reasonable content on your brand page and to engage as your brand. I know that there’s a [inaudible 00:53:36] the things you should really be engaging as your brand, so that people get to know your brand and engage with your brand. I can completely understand that point of view. I just personally find it quite hard to do that, so I try to bring my page into my profile. Quite often I will post something on my business page, on my brand page, and then possibly re-share it with some added commentary or an additional question or some extra information to my profile.

I personally find that I get far more engagement when I’m posting as me, as Donna Beckett rather that as Beckett & Co Solicitors. Yeah, I do accept that could be because solicitors are not the most exciting people in the world. Our content isn’t quite as exciting and full as other businesses content may be. I mean there are some businesses out there and their content is very visual and its fun and it’s exciting. Obviously for those types of businesses, the sensible things to do would be to post as their page and engage as their page. Yeah, I find it hard to give my brand page, well it’s a local page, but my business page the love that it should really be getting from me.

Kath:               You’re getting a lot of followers on it anyway. Actually well done. We’ve covered some absolutely fantastic topics. I think I fail a lot more intelligent when it comes to local search, I’ve learned a lot of things. I’d like to just [whis 00:55:15] through the panel and get some final thoughts anything you like to say about the topic or about your own businesses or anything you’re up to that you just like to tell us about. Let’s start with Nick.

Nick:                Yeah, what am I up to? Thank you, yes. If it’s really just, I mean 100% not … I mean most of my focus now is inside on Google+. I think out as a network it’s the closest thing that I come to, to actual real life networking for so many businesses it really can’t be so successful. I’m really looking to do more of this and carry on, basically spreading the word. I think Google My Business has opened things up and made things a lot easier for businesses to access it. That doesn’t take away from a lot of the basics that need to be done but it’s an exciting time to be in this space and to try and figure out where they may be going next.

I’m watching how others consumers, strange are and also their Chobits. It’s an exciting time so yeah, I’m basically splitting time now between doing a lot of the local SCI stuff and really plowing or put some really exciting stuff on Google+. I’m looking forward, I’ll go through the comment stream afterwards and if there are any unanswered questions I’ll follow up, I’ll try and get those done, and spread out some links to some decent comment, content as to where it’s necessary. This is Peter, first live Hangout has been a lot of fun.

Peter:              How long you did not spend on the comment track, comment stream because looking at the comment stream there’s a lot of stuff and we’ve only covered just a scrape the surface. Thank you so much.

Nick:                It might take a while, yeah.

Kath:               Brilliant. Donna, any final thoughts?

Donna:            Yeah, I mean Nick’s just made a really valid point there. You just mentioned the way that search is going to be developing and I think that social search is something that’s definitely going to be developing. I think the search engine search is a dropping and people are using their social media platforms are search engines in themselves. I’m certainly going to continue my efforts on Google+. I just want to give a quick shout out to the UK Connect community, woo! I would definitely going to keep on questioning the brick part on Google+. My big business insights that I now get through my business are telling me that 80% of our new followers are from the UK, which is really, really encouraging.

We’re going to keep pushing that, we’re going to be looking at doing some member spotlight hangouts. Yeah, spreading the word as to say. I’m on a mission to get the UK plussing and I’m going to continue with that.

Kath:               Brilliant, thank you. It’s been an absolute pleasure to have you all on the Great British Hangout, fantastic. Peter.

Peter:              Yeah, I’m with Donna completely and I think can any network, you think of any offline network lives in [inaudible 00:58:40] by having people to go along spend that work. If people don’t turn up, the network dies. Google+ is really getting to thrive in the UK and the more businesses, the more people get on Google+ and use it for their business. The more Google+ in the UK will thrive and in Europe and in other countries as well. Let you know let’s keep peer packing, let’s keep Euro packing or New Zealand and Australia packing and let’s spread the Google+ sort of vibe across. Because I think getting ready is going to be important going forward.

Just want to say just something persuade briefly just to give encouragement to Amelia Hoskins. She said, “Well I wish I had started at brand but the G+ experts told us to use our Personal Profile. I could be wrong?” I think Amelia, carry on what you’re doing and you’re doing great. I think that more, I was told as give and test meet you, the more you can actually be you and represent your brand really well, the more successful you can be. Just carry on doing what you’re doing when doing well. It’s been great, thank you. Nick and Donna, and Kath too for doing a great job with sitting in the hot seat as it will.

Kath:               Brilliant, it is quite steamy being now. I’m a little bit red. We may need a finish line.

Peter:              Actually we do give a shout out to Donna and Nick because it’s actually they are one today with their experience on Hangout. We should have brought a back to screen, dunk you in it the star because it’s their first Hangout so I think they’ve done brilliantly.

Donna:            Thank you.

Kath:               Absolutely.

Nick:                [Inaudible 01:00:17]

Kath:               Just blue box in here, it’s white box in there. Anyway, I actually just want to reinforce that as well because when Peter approached me to collaborate on the Great British Hangouts it was kind of join new forces, just like “Come on, let’s see. Can we do this together?” Because we both came and I would never done this without him so collaborating if you’re a little bit weary of getting on to Hangout. Do running Hangout is a great idea and jumping on the Hangout like being a guest and getting some experience is fantastic. I’m absolutely delighted that both Nick and Donna responded so well to our strong army to get them on here.

Bently almost sending them cameras, we didn’t, we won’t send you a camera but we will keep you.

Nick:                Almost.

Kath:               Yeah, almost yeah.

Peter:              You had it.

Kath:               I’ve got it, yeah.

Peter:              We won’t tell you but we are telling when we are to hire some people if our link cases to get on houses but that’s just buyer-buyer.

Kath:               Brilliant, okay. Well we’re two minutes over but I am going to press the button and call us to a close and thank everybody for coming along to watch and taking part and anybody who watches after the fact. We will be responding to the comments and hopefully helping anybody who has any issues with their local pages. Embrace Google+ it’s brilliant, it’s only going to get better. Thank you very much for watching and good-bye from the latest slice of the Great British Hangout. Bye.

Peter:              That’s good, bye. Bye.

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Nick Rink

Managing Director at Smart Local
Nick runs Smart Local from its base in Wimbledon and writes about local search, social media, the mobile web and other online marketing issues affecting small businesses.

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