Moving to a New Business Address? Don’t Forget to Tell Google

We all know that moving can be a big pain in the backside.  Boxes, sticky tape, labels…  And then you just have to unpack everything the other end.  But we live in a world where Royal Mail redirects, We Have Moved postcards and answer phone messages are just the tip of the iceberg.  And that is only magnified if you’re a business.

When you consider how people may use the internet to locate your business, it’s important that you do everything you can to ensure that search engines log your new details correctly.  BOTTLE is in the middle of an exciting move, with the office relocating… Relocating means changing address, which means I’m doing this right now.

Getting your business address consistent

One of the central tenets of local search engine optimization is to ensure that your business’s Name, Address, and Phone number, NAP for short, is consistent everywhere it’s mentioned around the web (and offline, too – there’s no point getting everything online correct if your business cards have the wrong details). Your NAP is basically your digital thumbprint – Google’s unique identifier for an individual business.

So when you move locations, you create an inconsistency in your NAP.   Your address is change, and if you change your telephone number then that too clashes with what Google already knows.  Sadly, you can’t just send search engines a “We Have Moved” postcard. In worst case you end up with visitors turning up at the wrong address, but even if your communication to visitors is top-notch inconsistencies in your NAP can lead to lower search engine rankings for keyword searches.  Google hates duplicate content.  And the same goes for duplicate listings.

The first thing I did was to run an Accuracy Report on GetListed for old and new NAP information. I wanted to see which search engines had indexed which location(s), and in what manner.  That way you know if you need to alter anything.  GetListed is primarily a US tool, however there is a UK function in Beta that can provide some insights…

Social networks

Once you know how your business address is being logged by search engines (if you are able to pull results from GetListed) the next thing is to make sure they are all being fed the same information.  Where your business address is listed online, and you have the option to change it, do so.  So on your website and on social networks.  Pay particular attention to Google+, and local business pages on Google.  Whilst the information does have a tendency to switch back (because Google is trying to associate it with your old NAP), it’s important to know where you need to make changes.

To a lesser extent don’t forget to check out Facebook and Foursquare (as well as other location services) – every little helps…

Setting your Google Maps address

Search Google

Do a Google search for your old NAP and on Google maps click the down arrow to “Report a problem” – and on the following screen note the correct information and tell Google why you are requesting the change.

Also pay particular attention to any external sites that return your old business address – some listings sites will allow you to edit the details manually, others you will have to contact the site owner to request the change.

One last step is to visit Google MapMaker. Think of MapMaker as a Wikipedia for locations. Google users from all of the world can add, edit, delete, and consolidate business information using this tool. For the most part, each edit is reviewed by other Google users before it goes live to the public.   And most people don’t know about MapMaker.  But as it’s a Google property, Google loves it.  And MapMaker seems to process changes sometimes quicker than edits to Google Maps – so edit away!

Now all you can do is kick back and wait.  It can take a good while for these changes to filter through to all search engines.  So keep a note of all the changes you make, and the results that you get and note when there are changes.  There will be… it might just take a few months to get there!

I’ll admit, this isn’t something I’ve done before, so I’m basing this on logic… What other things should be considered to help solidify your business address move in Google’s eyes?

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Disappointing: Facebook Pages Manager for Android

If you happen to be both a social media nut and an Android user then, like me, you will have been probably been waiting with bated breath for Facebook to get a wriggle on and release a version of their Page Manager app that will work with your phone.  As with the majority of mobile applications, Apple came first, but for us Andriod users we’ve had to put up with the slightly clunky functions of the original mobile app for updating Facebook pages.

But then, after 8 months of waiting, I heard on the grape vine that Facebook had started a soft roll-out in Canada, Austraila, New Zealand, and then a few days later suddenly the Facebook Page Manager application was available for download on the Play Store.  As a social media professional updating Facebook pages is just part of my daily workload, so anything that is designed to make it easier gets me very excited…

But eight months between releasing the iOS and the Android versions seems, well, a little OTT.  Even if Facebook and Google don’t always see eye-to-eye, what with the popularity of Android devices, it seems daft on Facebook’s part to have spent so long leaving those users like me feeling so unloved.  I mean, it’s not as if the app was ever designed to do something overly complicated, so I have to wonder what the reason is behind all the dragging of heels.

So, was it it worth the wait?

Erm.

Lack of setting options

Well.  No.  I find it pretty useless actually.  The app allows page managers to update a Facebook page – great, but I could already do that on the native app – respond to comments – again, native app allows me to do this too – and receive notifications whenever a page is updated.  So this last point is great in theory, having a notification to your mobile phone of a social interaction on a brand’s page should mean that you can ensure proactive monitoring and swift response, but in reality it’s just plain annoying.  I have over 20 Facebook pages linked up to my Facebook account, so having that function on for a few minutes sent my phone into a strange seizure with updates coming left, right and centre.  It was chaos.

I checked the settings to see if I could tone down some of the notifications on a brand-by-brand basis, but to no avail.  All the application allows you to do is to turn on the pushed notifications or to turn them all off until 8am the following morning.  No permanent off setting, nor options to change the push notifications by brand, just a broad-brush approach.  That seems really naive on Facebook’s part.  As any Facebook page manager knows different pages have different requirements and I resent having to treat any page with a one-size-fits-all approach.

One-tap Insight data

One thing the app does do well is offer page managers both page and post-level Insights with one tap – which is handy if you’re away from a computer and want to do some simple reporting, or perhaps show a client quickly how a particular post is performing.  The app also makes it easier for page manager to delete or hide posts than with the native app – which again is useful if you’re out of the office and you have an urgent need to delete something.  However, in my experience it is only in exceptional circumstances that a post should be deleted… so whilst this function is useful I can’t see it as something that I would use on a regular basis.

Facebook Page Manager App

Insight data is available in a single tap

Photo upload

The one thing that I did like though was that I can now remotely upload images to the Page’s Wall through the Android App – you can either take a photo on the spot, search through photos already on your device or straight from an image search.  To do this, all you need to do is click the plus sign to the left of your reply, then select “image search.”  Very straight forward.

According to Google Play Store most users seem to love the Page Manager app, but all in all the app has left me a bit cold.  For something I was so looking forward to I’m a bit disappointed.  Sure, I can see it’ll have its uses, but It’s just the shame that, after 8 months of waiting, one of the first things I did after downloading the Facebook Page Manager Android App was log out.

What are your experiences of the Pages Manager app?

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Google+: Are we riding the wave?

Google+ is everywhere.

Everyone wanted to be on it.  We grovelled for invitations, longingly staring at our inboxes with the impatience of children on Christmas Eve.  We read article after article, preparing ourselves for the new tools, familiarising our tongues with new terms and limbering up our profile writing skills.

So now that Google+ has hit 10 million users are we actually using it?  Apparently not.  According to Experian Hitwise the average user spends only 5 minutes using the new social network.

But why?  Google+ seems to have everything you could want from a social network.  You can divide your connection into private communication circles (a bit like Facebook groups), you can follow people you have never met in real life (like Twitter), you can video chat (like on Skype – and now Facebook), and businesses have be promised special company pages (once again like Facebook).  It even seems to encroach a bit on Flickr’s territory with a smattering of photo sharing, and just last week Google announced its release of some Foursquare-like badges earned from searching.

From the outside Google+ and its related tie-ups seem to be the full package.  With so much technology and integration it’s been purpose built to link up your offline experiences with your online life.

But I suspect that this is actually the problem…  How are you actually meant to use Google+?  Is it a professional platform or a personal one?

Technically if you use circles correctly if can be both, but I suspect Google may be trying to spread itself too thinly.  It’s not that the tools aren’t up to scratch – in fact, aside from an early bug or two they seem pretty stable – instead it’s that users just aren’t sure exactly how to approach the network.

I’ve seen many people flock to the site, scramble around create a few Circles, post the “Wow, isn’t Google+ really cool” first update, and then go quiet, slipping into the shadows of the social network watching and waiting to see how other people use it.

Some people thought that Google Wave was going to be huge, until is crashed spectacularly onto the shores of the social web and vanished… The positive for Google+ is that is seems to have found a foothold with it’s integration, but it needs its users to actually use its functions for it to really succeed and make a lasting impression.  And for that, only time will tell…

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What’s to like about Google’s +1?

You’ve heard of ‘Check-ins,’ ‘Likes,’ and ‘Re-Tweets’ now Google wants us to embrace their new social recommendation tool the ‘+1.’

Now, aside from the silly name (“I plus-oned that website” sounds down-right daft), I have a few issues with Google’s answer to the Facebook ‘Like’ button.

Currently +1 requires you to have a public Google profile, (you can try out +1 by activating the service on Google’s search experiments page), so only once you’re up and running will you see a +1 button next to every search result.  Essentially, if you like a result, click +1 and you’re done.  All of your recommendations will show up under your public profile so you can share with everyone in your Google Social Circle (that’s your Google Talk buddies, your Gmail contacts and anyone else you’ve linked with your Google profile) what you think is worth looking at.

However, here the current version of Google +1 comes a bit unstuck…

How can you know you want to recommend a page without visiting it in the first place?  Once you’ve followed a Google listing, you’re directed away from Google (and subsequently away from the +1 tool).  This means that at the moment Google is relying on users remembering to backtrack and retrospectively recommend the page…

Apparently there are plans to eventually allow web developers to embed the +1 button on their own pages, but with no date for this set it seems like, for the moment at least, Google are working with a bit of a clunky system which isn’t going to make it very popular amongst early adopters.

Secondly, it’s simply not clear as to who is actually in your Google Social Circle… unlike Twitter, Facebook etc there is simple list of friends that you’re linked to – and, in a set-up similar to that of LinkedIn, you are linked to not just your direct contacts, but also the people who are linked to them… meaning that your Social Circle could be huge.  So you never really know who you’re recommending things to!

At the moment Google +1 simply has a long way to go before it rivals the Facebook “Like” button, currently it seems to be positioned in a no-mans land – projecting recommendations willy-nilly across the internet, but not fully embracing the impulsive “I like that!” sharing culture that seems to be shaping the way we engage with the internet.  Google +1 either needs to be streamlined, or to expand (I can’t decide which)… oh, and it also needs a new name.

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