New Google UI feature: Plus Box

This will interest webmasters and local businesses. If someone searches for your business and we have good confidence that we know your business address, we’ll include an expandable “Plus Box” in your search result listing. If a user clicks to expand the Plus Box, they’ll see something like this:

Plus box example

I really like this feature because it’s useful but you don’t have to remember to go to a completely different place to look up local info. Instead, this feature integrates with our main web search to help the majority of our users without them doing anything extra.

What’s that? You have a local business and would like to get a Plus Box too? You can tell us your business address at Google’s Local Business Center .

Q: How much does it cost?
A: It’s free.

Q: How do you know my address/info is right?
A: I believe we can verify your info by phone or by postcard.

Q: What if I’ve got multiple store locations?
A: No problem. You can upload multiple listings, thanks to Google Base.

Q: What sort of info can I tell you about my business?
A: I’m so glad you asked! It looks like this:

Google Local Business Center

Q: What Google help documentation exists for the Plus Box?
A: I know of http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=52181
and http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=55093
and http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=52171 .

I like this feature. You can tell us store hours, what sort of payment you accept, phone number, etc. I think every local business would benefit from using this service. It’s free, and it makes it easier for searchers to find your business. If you’ve got a local business, feel free to sign up now.

Hat tips to Michael, Ionut, Philipp, and Barry.

P.S. Here’s a completely unrelated tip for small businesses. If your small business doesn’t have a website, you can still advertise on AdWords and Google will host a business page for you.

58 Responses to New Google UI feature: Plus Box (Leave a comment)

  1. Yea, I reported this twice after Michael posted his entry.

    http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/061120-085745
    http://www.seroundtable.com/archives/006773.html

    Have these been pushed in more to the results recently?

  2. Doh–meant to add that SE Roundtable link. Okay, I just added it; thanks for mentioning it, Barry.

    Yes, I believe that this feature is now on 100% instead of as an experiment before. If you have a local business but don’t see a Plus Box, it’s a good time to tell Google where you’re located.

  3. I’ve seen this around my searches the past 2 months maybe. It was a bit scary, that Google took a very competitive keyword and gave a website who’s url and business name matched the phrase

    It’s no longer active, but it was scary :(

  4. Matt – Regarding your “completely unrelated tip for small businesses” here’s a tip for the AdWords team: Take Starter Edition back to the drawing board. The hosted business pages are great in concept but poor in execution because they are tied to AdWords Starter Edition. Here’s the problem. If a new advertiser wants to buy ads on Google, they think Starter Edition is a good way to get their feet wet with search engine advertising. Trouble is, they’re really buying contextual advertising as well. That’s not good for a small business just learning the PPC ropes. Either make it clear to new advertisers that they’re buying contextual advertising or give them the choice to opt out. From this AdWords help page (adwords.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?answer=14809):

    “When you create a new keyword-targeted AdWords campaign, your ads are automatically ‘opted in’ to run on the entire Google Network. Starter Edition accounts must remain opted in. If you have a Standard Edition account, you can opt out of the Google Network at any time by editing your distribution preferences. Since selecting both search and content sites allows your ad the broadest possible exposure, we recommend you remain opted in. However, the choice is entirely yours.”

    Huh?! The “choice is entirely yours” except if you’re using hosted business pages which are using Starter Edition which forces you to remain opted into the content network, where the chance of click fraud (or at the very least junk clicks) is higher than on Google itself or the search network. With all the heat Google (and other search engines, to be fair) is taking concerning click fraud, this combining of search ads and content ads for new advertisers seems like a bad idea. Sure, it’s more revenue for Google in the short term and it’s more ad impressions for a small business w/o the work of creating 2 separate ad campaigns. But, these new advertisers, signing up for what they believe is search engine advertising, will start to see where their traffic is coming from and they’ll think they’re subject to click fraud. It’s usually not the case. It’s just that they’ve unwittingly purchased contextual advertising.

    Can you get someone to fix this? Doesn’t seem like a good idea for small businesses in the short term. I also think this’ll hurt Google in the long term. I’d suggest either dropping the content network from Starter Edition or giving those advertisers a way to opt out. At the very least, make it excruciatingly obvious that they’re buying contextual advertising and not pure search engine advertising.

    Thanks.

  5. Nikhil Jogia

    Arghhh…..why no Australia???

  6. Will this work for businesses outside the US? Eg the UK. Thanks.

  7. I’m not an ads person, but I’ll definitely pass the feedback on, Richard Ball. Thanks for the clear write-up of how it works.

  8. JB

    For those of us who only sell online but show a business/home postal address on the site.

    Any way of making sure we don’t get an automatic listing?

    Don’t realy want customers wasting a journey and expecting to be able to buy the products.
    Thanks.

  9. I first noticed this cool feature when I made a search for http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=tabasco&btnG=Google+Search (I like spicy food) I must say that this is really a great feature!

    I have 2 small questions about it….

    1: If I dont have a registered business, may I still be allowed to use this function anyway if I want people to be able to find me?

    2: When is this service coming to the scandinavian countries?

    Thanks!

    / Marcus W

  10. Matt,

    Does “good confidence that we know your business address” mean you’ll only do this who confirm their business address by phone or snailmail?

    I ask because I looked up some businesses I know you can pull out reliable information for in Google Maps but they don’t get plus boxes.

  11. JB, I think one of those help pages that I mentioned talked about, probably http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=52171 , indicates that you can sign up to correct your listing. On the business listing page where you manage your listing, I believe that there is a “Remove listing” link.

    Marcus, I’m not sure about Scandinavian countries. I think that you can still use this function if you have a business at a mailing address, because we can mail a postcard to verify that physical address.

    Michael Martinez, I think there’s a level of confidence above that of Maps, but still below opting in, possibly because we have other data sources? So I think the answer to your question is no.

  12. Limestone

    Thanks, Matt – I just listed my place of work (a retail shop in the UK).

    FWIW your colleagues are to be congratulated on a very good job in designing the input pages for adding a listing. Very smooth and easy to use.

  13. That’s great! I love it!

    I have lots of questions though. Let’s say that people use several completely different, but relevant queries to find your business?

    For example: A restaurant owned by a celebrity chef.
    Emeril Lagasse owns a restaurant called Delmonico Steakhouse at The Venetian in Las Vegas.

    I can think of several different queries that people might use to find this one restaurant. None of which might be the official “Business Name”.

    Would all relevant queries show the same result on the map? Or… Is the exact “Business Name” that is entered on the form shown above the only query that will trigger the map result?

  14. I am glad it is 100%, thanks for the update.

  15. Thanks for this excellent update on this up to now less well advertised feature. One thing worth mentioning is that this takes a while to set up.

    In my case I verified a site (the bed and breakfast my parents run) on the 5th November but am still waiting for “The next update…”

  16. This is excellent, especially considering that here in the UK, Yellow Pages charge for a similar service, not to mention when you list with Yell, they continuously pester you on the phone and nag you to renew every year by phone

  17. Hawaii SEO, I believe that the business listing is tied to the url, so if the url shows up, you’ll see the Plus Box.

  18. Hi Matt,

    I really like the sound of this feature, but as with so many other of Googles great features, it is not available for Australian businesses. Is there a reason that Google has restricted the access to this service. We have Google Maps in Australia, why then can’t we also have this service?

    Is it because Google doesn’t want to compete with http://www.whereis.com.au?

  19. Very cool, and works great in Opera. Or at least it would if Google didn’t (apparently) feed Opera a diffeent SERP :(

    I’m using Opera 9.x, and the same search at the same time from the same IP and location shows the Plus Box in IE7 and FF2.x but not in Opera 9.x. Pasting the code from the FF page into Opera’s page source allows Opera to display it (in working order) just fine. Displaying (or even masking) the UA as Moz or IE doesn’t help, which may mean Google is very clever at browser sniffing, or that there’s something else going on.

    I though Google and Opera were pals these days?

  20. Luminosity, we often start with the U.S., but I know that we want to ramp up to help businesses in as many countries as possible. I’m sure the team is reading this thread, so they’ll hear your feedback.

    Milly, if you were in Opera and changed the user-agent and we still didn’t show the Plus Box, that’s weird. I’m hoping a Plus Box person will see this and email me if they know what’s going on.

  21. Opera has the option either to spoof or mask the UA, and with the latter it’s sending (I sniffed) “Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 5.1; U; en; rv:1.7.5) Gecko/20041110″ to Google.

    Using that setting, and a bare, clean version of 9.01, I’m getting the same thing every time. I am in the UK, but it doesn’t mind that for FF or IE, and adding the gl=US parameter doesn’t help (in case that might matter).

    Hopefully a Plus Box person will also know why they don’t (apparently – can anyone else confirm?) serve Plus Box’s to Opera users even *without* UA spoofing, since it can handle it? Maybe they don’t want to overload all those Wii users …

  22. Nivaedhitha

    Mr. Matt,

    Is this applicable to India? Google’s Local Business Center. Getting listed on Google Maps?

    Kindly advise

  23. Matt:

    I comment on a lot of local issues in various forums. These are powerful marketing tools incorporated into serps for local queries.

    Out of curiousity, when a business closes how do you remove the listing from G maps?

    Dave

  24. Raffi

    How does this work if you have multiple retail locations? Does it show the plus box of the location nearest you based on Geolocation of your IP?

    We have about 42 B&M locations across the states and I’m just trying to plan out how to handle all these verifications.

    thanks!

  25. Woah, Thai food… my mouth is watering. I have not had good Thai since the Khaosan Road five years ago.

    Matt, wanna grab some Thai next conference?

  26. Matt – Thanks for the gracious response regarding contextual ads and hosted business pages. I’d have posted a comment on the Inside AdWords blog, if Google corporate blogs had comments turned on. ;-)

  27. Matt-

    When I search on my sites or your example (http://www.google.com/search?q=a+matter+of+thai&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:unofficial&client=firefox-a) I do not see the “Plus Box”. Is this just rolling out and soon to be every where or a function of something else?

    In the past I have seen an
    expanded “Plus Box” offered up on a local search but I have not seen this recently. Was this an experiment? Are there instances of such Expanded Plus Boxes still appearing when conditions warrant?

    Mike

  28. Milly, another Googler read your comments and proactively contacted me. They expect to fully support the Plus Box for Opera 8+ (and Safari) within a couple weeks. Thanks for bringing this to my/their attention, and many thanks to the Googlers for letting me know that this change is pending.

  29. Matt -

    Related to what Mike Blumenthal stated. I have seen the same thing with the already expanded map with extra details (including restaurant reviews). I have only seen this with this specific search. Is this new? Is this also connected with Google Business Center?

    Google: lurcat minneapolis
    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&safe=off&rls=com.microsoft:en-us:IE-SearchBox&sa=X&oi=spell&resnum=0&ct=result&cd=1&q=lurcat+minneapolis&spell=1

  30. Thanks Matt, and to the other Googlers.

  31. Matt, this is an excellent feature but one that frustrates Australians, because we can’t use it locally. Hopefully the Local/Maps team are reading your Blog and we’ll see it in Australia sooner rather than later.

  32. Matt-

    Today (12/21) I now see the plusbox in safari and firefox for the Mac.

    Mike

  33. Google’s local results are getting in the way of my bricks and mortar business. Not that mine is the most established or best in the area, but, the ones shown by Google Local Results are pretty awful….

    What’s that? You have a local business and would like to get a Plus Box too? You can tell us your business address at Google’s Local Business Center .

    See my responses.

    Q: How much does it cost?
    A: It’s free.
    Response: it still sucks, since people have to find it somehow.

    Q: How do you know my address/info is right?
    A: I believe we can verify your info by phone or by postcard.
    R: It doesn’t matter, if there are 30 businesses before yours. Buying links is still the way, and even that won’t ge you in local results.

    Q: What if I’ve got multiple store locations?
    A: No problem. You can upload multiple listings, thanks to Google Base.
    R: It doesn’t matter. None of them will show up when someone searches for cityname keyword.

    Q: What sort of info can I tell you about my business?
    A: I’m so glad you asked! It looks like this:
    R: But it better be the only business of its type in the area, otherwise Google will bury it behind other local businesses that are smaller yet closer to some theoretical point on a map which it considers your city.

    Please, Matt, talk to your superiors. Do away with google local until it’s better, because right now it’s awful. Someday you people smarter than me will come up with an algorithm that finds the best local restaurant, B&B or ad agency. For now, it’s awful. The business listed might actually be defunct.

  34. Hi Matt it’s an honor to ask you a question,

    Will there be a method to input Lat and Long ex: 38.726500, -75.128917
    if we know them? I’ve noticed most online maps (google included) can sometimes be off by a mile or more.

    Thanks,

    Mike Brown

  35. Hi Matt,
    One would expect that the results displayed in the One Box would be the top listings you see once you click through into Google Maps. However, this is rarely the case. Why the difference? Thanks.

  36. What if the name of the street is no longer the one that Google Map shows!? I register a business on Google Local Business Center and if I input the new name of the street (it has been the name of the street for 1 year..) Google maps get lost on the map and my business cannot be located.. Do you have an advice?? What can I do? Will you update your map data? The name of the street has been changed for more than 12 months..

  37. Matt,

    My company verified our listing via the pin number on the post card in mid November 2006 (Nov 11th), and we are listed in Google Maps and on Google Local now, but in natural search results we still do not have an expandable plus box under our listing. To make sure this was not a browser, or operating system error, I tried it on Safari & Mac Firefox, and IE 7 & Windows Firefox. Besides verifying our listing in the Google Local Business Center what else needs to be done to include the plus box in our natural search results? Please contact directly if you’d like the name of my company.

    Andrew

  38. The goal is to recognize local intent, then local results can be displayed to those searchers who want to see them. I think this is a great step towards integrating local results into the SERPs. After all, searchers want answers without having to go to different places to get them.

    In response to Brendan Reagan’s comments:
    The geographic skew that used to rank those businesses closest to the center of an area highest in the G-Maps results has most certainly been retired. Just look at the top three results on a map and you will see that is no longer true.

    There is now an algorithm ruling Google Maps.It appears to be somewhat based on how confident Google Maps is that the information they have about you is correct. It’s also likely that they match up info from your website to the Maps info as part of verifying its accuracy. Make certain you have up to date address and phone info on your website and that it matches what’s in your G-Maps listing.

    Also make sure your website is well-optimized for your best geographic keyword terms. How will Google Maps know you are a Mountain View California Chinese Take-out, for instance, if you don’t tell them?

    How can Google possibly rank restaurants according to which is best? People are already gaming the review features on local platforms. I guess the only way that is possible is if Matt goes out and eats at all of them!

    My company has a pretty extensive whitepaper on Local Search that you may find useful. Although it’s aimed at our niche, the lodging industry, it contains enough general information to be useful to any business that wants to be found when local searches are made. If anyone would like a gratis copy, email me: mbowling@blizzardinternet.com
    PS I promise I won’t give your email address to our sales department.or use it for other evil purposes.

  39. Hi Matt. I’ve seen these + map additions to other people’s results and it makes their listings tend to stand out.

    I’ve had my business registered for a few years now with Google, but yet I don’t see anywhere that I can utilize/employ this new functionality for my website. How does one re-verify or have this added? If there is a wait – how long will it be? Thanks!

  40. amy

    How can I remove bad reviews from my Google Local Business Map listing?

  41. We also have the Google Map listing, i think its useless, but maybe just for now.

  42. I have a problem with google local business that may be affecting my ability to get the plus box map added to my organic search listing.
    Google local business show 3 listings for my business. One of the 3 is an incorrect address. I followed procedure to remove the extra listings but shortly after they were removed. They appeared again. I am assuming this is because google local business is drawing the data from the phone company. This is a terrible situation when the actual business owner cannot overide this bogus phone company data. Not only does it confuse my potential customers, but I suspect that this is a factor in my listing not getting the plus box map. What to do Mr Cutts?

  43. After some research, I found that Google may be allergic to an entire 19 Highway!. In my continuing quest to aquire a Plus Box Maps listing I could not find a single business on U. S. Hwy 19 that had a plus box map. I tried many configuarations such as US 19, US-19, US Route 19, US Hwy 19, US Highway 19, etc. I tried restaurants, attorneys and several other business sectors all the way back to the 10th page. No one on US 19 has a plus map box. Is Google allergic to US 19?

  44. Hi all, sorry if I missed it but I still can’t find out how to add a plus box? I live in the UK, has it been released or is it just in the USA that it is available?

    I am registered in Google local but do not see the plus box.

    Regards

    Jeff

  45. What is the current status of the ‘plus box’?

    I am seeing it on some search results. But, I can’t find anything in the Help Center about them.

    Thanks

    MR

  46. I would like to hear some clearing of the air regarding Local Business Centers ranking system. Over that last year I have been watching several of my clients listings carefully. I have come to the conclusion that Google is giving special treatment or special access to certain companies. My specific observations are that data suppliers, like the phone companies, are getting higher rankings for thier submissions than individuals. These observations are very statistically consistent. I have also recieved a few phone calls from companies claiming to have a special arrangement with google. These companies go on to claim that they can get my business in the top 3 listings on local business or my money back. In another instance, one of my clients had a listing with a large popular medical related site. When this client cancelled her listing, she recieved an email telling her that her local business ads would be removed if she did not renew. Some of her local business ads did disapear but the primary concern is that the ad she had placed herself fell from the first page to the 3rd instantly. There is just simply too much here to be a coincidence. What is the real scoop here Matt?
    Thanx,
    Steve

  47. My plus box lists an incorrect address for my business and correcting it via the Business Center does not appear to work. This is infuriating because potential customers drive to this location expecting to see us and they find a UPS Store instead (where we used to have a mailbox)!

    How do I fix this once and for all???
    It’s driving me insane.

  48. My plus box lists an incorrect address for our business.

    Please let me know a tried and true method to correct this.

    Thank you kindly,

  49. Maybe if you get rules for re-inclusion I can enjoy having my law firm in those results?

  50. This is a very nice new feature especially for us smaller agencies who do most of their SEO and SEM work on a local level. I do have a question regarding my plus box because my company has moved locations during our history of using Google Local Business center. How can I make sure the most up to date information is listed in the plus box?

  51. Three things I hope someone can help answer…
    1. Even though my store address shows on the business map listing, my home address is tagged on the map. How can I fix this without having to wait for google’s 6 week verification process?
    2. How long does it take for the “+” feature to show up?
    3. How can I get an old listing with incorrect information off the Internet? My listing with “removal requested” comes up before my current listing in google maps!

  52. A very nice facility. HOWEVER, if you get a wrong address on your plus box it is VERY hard to get it changed. I first discovered the facility when I discovered that one of my sites had a plus box but it pointed to a company in the USA and not much to do with our web site. I have registered the the correct address to my web site and created items in the forums to discover how to get this changed. My understanding is that it needs someone from Google to change it. I did get some feedback by a Google employee saying that he had reported it. I have only been waiting four months to get it corrected.

    I have no idea when or how the wrong address got created but getting it corrected is almost impossible. Any help in getting it fixed will be appreciated.

  53. Hi Just a quick comment about local search. i cannot add our business because the country we do business in (Indonesia) is not listed in the drop down menu. However when seaching for Bali villa for example local search results appear so there must be a way….Where is the link to add Indonesian businesses to Google local search results???

  54. Duncan

    Matt.

    The Google Support links you have posted are not working any more, and I can’t find the relevant articles by searching Google support. Are you able to post updated links?

  55. Currently i can’t verify the my Google local listings through
    1. SMS, where it says some error has occurred
    2. through phone it says invalid pin
    3. waiting for my Postal verification, i dont whether that will at least give the right pin

    Is that Google has stopped the Google local listings? or it should be done through postal mails only.

  56. Dave

    Hi what happens if one of my competitors posts a bad review of my business is there any way to remove it? its not happened yet but it could be so easy to do and could wreck my business.

  57. @ Dave..
    Actually I have the same question. Many times it happens that our competitor posts bad review for our company and we are so helpless that we cant take any action against it.

  58. I suppose “plus box” is similar to “like box” ‘s facebook which can display fans. unfortunetely not. :)

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