Google+ Local Pages started off as Google Places way back in April 2010. In November 2011, Google launched Google+ Pages and things started to get really confusing. Many businesses ended up with two or possibly three pages to represent them.
It gets even more confusing when you take into account that there are multiple different types of Google+ listings.
Google+ Personal Pages: These are individual pages that represent you, the human being. These are in your real name and attached to your Gmail or Google account. These are used to manage other pages and for Authorship on any blog posts you might have. If you haven’t already got one, it should be the first thing that you set up.
Google+ Local Unverified Listings: These are listings that have been generated by Google from the old Google Places data on Google Maps and then re-created to fit the design of Google+. They have whatever information Google was able to scrape from the Internet, such as website, hours, address and phone number – though often this information can be incorrect and out of date. Google+ users are able to leave reviews on these pages and they can show up in Google searches for your brand. There is no ability for businesses to post content on these pages and users cannot follow them. There will also be no verified checkmark next to the name of the business. If you haven’t set up a Google+ page for your brand, make sure you check first to see if an unverified listing already exists and use the claims process to claim and verify it.
Google+ Local Verified Listings: Verified listings have all the features of an unverified listing, but are controlled by a verified representative of the business. Verified listings show a checkbox next to the name confirming this. In addition to the standard content there are also social options allowing businesses to interact with Google+ users and deliver useful and interesting content via posts (such as sharing posts from your website's blog or newsfeed) and videos via YouTube. Verified listings also give businesses the opportunity to reply to customer reviews. Users are able to follow the page as well as +1 individual posts.
If your page does not already exist you will need to create it, the most important thing to do is choose the “Local Business or Place” option, as there is no option to change your category after it is created – you only have the option to delete. You do not want to have to repeat all your hard work creating content, attracting followers and generating reviews just because you got it wrong at the start!
Google+ Business Page: These pages are designed for a brand or product without a physical location. There is no map function available, along with reviews, hours or verification. You should never choose this option unless you have no physical location. Luckily – you are now able to merge data from both a Google+ Local Verified page and a Google+ Business Page.
As you can see, Google never really did that good of a job rolling out Google+ in the first place. Their clunky and unclear system resulted in multiple pages for the same business, often with different administrators for them. A Google+ Local page could get automatically generated by maps, while someone might create a business page for a local business. Their web developer might try to be helpful and create another business page to link it to the website. This would hurt search visibility and confuse customers.
There is now a solution to this mess. It’s not perfect, but it get’s the job done. Technically speaking, it doesn’t actually merge the pages, rather it transfers the data from the Verified Google+ Local page to the Google+ Brand Page, then changes the status of the Google+ Brand Page to a Google+ Verified Local Page with all the bells and whistles (are you scratching your head yet?).
All of your existing reviews, local verification pin, map information and address information are then applied to the page – custom URL, cover photo, followers, circles and posts belonging to the Local are unfortunately not transferred. All of the existing posts, custom URL, followers and circles belonging to the brand page stay the same – while some features such as story, tagline and links disappear.
The actual process is reasonably straightforward:
You might lose some followers and content in the process, but your Google+ will now be set up correctly which should drastically improve your rankings and placement for local searches.
Google+ is a powerful tool for increasing the number of visitors and potential leads generated by your business. While it’s possible to manage it yourself, more often than not it causes confusion for small business owners and ends up neglected.
Don’t let incorrectly set up Google+ pages hurt your local search presence and rankings. Give us a call instead and discuss with us how we can tune up your social media presence the right way, turning both your social media and website into a lead generation machine.