If you’ve recently found yourself confused over the recent Google local mess of names and platforms, you’re not alone. SEOs and SMBs alike are left scratching their heads as they attempt to make sense of what Google undoubtedly hoped was a smooth transition: The merging of their local platforms into a more streamlined business marketing tool. Did it work? Hardly. These are the current Google platforms that business owners may or may not have to contend with.
- Google Local (Formerly Google Places)
- Google+ Business Page (Not Merged/Verified)
- Merged Google+ Local Page or Verified Local Google+ Page (Or Verified Google+ Business Page)
No wonder everyone’s confused. At least we know where Google Places went to.
Thankfully, Linda Buquet, Community Leader at The Local Search Forum and Google Local Specialist, stepped forward to help us make sense of the entire Google Local conundrum. She even let us use a terrific graphic that beautifully explains the difference between the various Google local platforms. The detailed descriptions of each are below.
Google+ Local Page (Previous Place Page)
Up until May of last year, Google Places was where you wanted to promote your business on the Google network. In a push to make things more social, to attribute author and publisher content with the actual authors and publishers and to help implement the rating and review platform Zagat, Google made the transition from Google Places to Google+ Local.
Now, just like you could do with the previous Google Places page, you can leave reviews, which you can choose to make private or public using your Google+ profile and you have photos and an About section you can share with your audience.
There is no check mark nor is there a follow button. For these, you either have to have your Google+ Local account verified or you have to merge your Google+ profile with your Google+ Business Page.
Bear with me. We’ll help you make sense of all of it.
Google+ Business Page (Not Merged or Verified)
Google+ Business is designed to help businesses promote their products and services using the Google+ network. In August of last year, Google started allowing business owners to merge their Google+ Business pages with their Google+ listings. This makes your business profile more social and it allows you to connect more easily with customers.
The Business page offers a follow button, a verified check mark and four tabs: Posts, About, Photos and Videos.
The only thing missing is the review button. That’s because Google wants you to merge your accounts so that all of your reviews can be attributed to you and your Google+ profile.
How to Merge Your Google+ Local and Google+ Business Accounts
In your Google+ Local account, search for your other account and hover over the Unverified near the top of the page and click Verify Now. This will verify that you own the local business in question and that you have authorization to create and edit the business content listed.
The only way to merge your listings is via the postcard method. You will have to confirm your address before you request the postcard. You should expect it to arrive within a week or so.
When the postcard arrives, go to www.google.com/loca/verify and enter the PIN listed on the card. Click Submit and you should be golden.
NOTE: You must confirm that all of your business information is accurate before you attempt a merge. If there are any discrepancies between the two listings, you could face massive troubles that will only lead to massive headaches as you fight with Google to get them fixed. Consider yourself forewarned. Just check the listings once, twice and even three times to be sure.
Merged Google+ Local Page or Verified Local Google+ Page
When you finally merge your listings, you will have access to all of the above features: A follow button, a button to leave reviews, a verified check mark and four tabs: Posts, About, Photos and Video.
This is where Google wants you to be. The end goal is for all businesses and Google+ users to congregate on the same platform. The problem is that all of these platforms were introduced at different times and the similar names make them downright confusing for experts and novices alike.
To help you visualize the above pages, here’s that graphic. Thank you, Linda, for letting us use these images.
Hopefully that sheds some light on how the various pages are used. We also hope that Google streamlines their local platform soon so that we don’t have to do as much head scratching just to market our businesses at the local level.