Google Places and Google+ Local: The Beginner's GuideTuesday, August 20, 2013
There is a lot of confusion surrounding Google Places and Google+ Local, so I’m going to try to provide some clarification, in the simplest terms possible.
First, some background info:
As I mentioned in my previous post, Google+ is more than just a social network—it is Google’s social layer, integrating into all features of Google. One of the features that was most impacted by Google+ was Google Places.
Google Places was a business directory. Business representatives could submit their business listing by providing a valid company name, phone number and address. Nonprofit organizations could also submit a listing. Once a business/organization had been added to the Google Places directory, it would show up in search results and on Google Maps.
Google Places still exists…kind of.
The transition from Google Places to Google+ Business Pages
In May 2013, Google made the decision to convert all existing “Google Places listings” into “Google+ Business Pages.” The reasons for this were pretty clear—to incorporate the social elements of Google+ into the business directory.
The confusing part is that Google Places isn’t totally gone. Although your business listing is now considered a Google+ Business Page, you still manage the page from the Google Places dashboard.
So what is Google+ Local?
In the simplest of terms, the relationship between Google Places, Google+ Business Pages and Google+ Local is this:
- Google Places is your dashboard for creating and managing your Google+ Business Page.
- Google+ Local is the end-user’s tool for finding Business Pages and reading/writing reviews.
It appears that Google’s eventual plan is to brand the entire local search platform as Google+ Local. That sure will make things simpler.
6 Huge Benefits Of Creating A Google+ Local Business Page
In just a moment, I’m going to give you the instructions on how to create your Google+ Local Business Page for your nonprofit organization. But first, I want to make sure you understand just how important it is.
1) Stand out in search results. When a Google+ Local Business Page shows up in search results, the listing looks a lot different from other results. Additional information (the red icon, your address, the link to your Google+ page) draws the eye.
2) Hop on the Carousel. Google recently introduced a horizontal black image carousel to the top of US Google search result pages. This takes “standing out” to a whole new level.
3) Put your organization on the map. Literally. By creating a Google+ Local Business Page, your organization can be found on Google Maps by both desktop and mobile users.
4) Receive reviews. People can write reviews about your organization on your Google+ Local Business Page and give you a star rating. Your listing in search results will include a link people can click to read your reviews.
5) Take advantage of the opportunity to address negative reviews. Turn a negative review into a positive situation. Respond promptly to the dissatisfied person and provide a solution to the problem. (Stay tuned for a future series on Online Reputation Management, where I will discuss more ways to ethically maintain a positive image on the Web!)
6) Provide accurate information about your organization. Many times, third party business directory sites will publish incorrect or out-of-date information about your organization. Google+ Business Pages allow you to claim your organization and provide the information yourself. Be sure to include the following: your correct, full organization name; your correct address and phone number; hours of operation; and category.
How To Create Your Google+ Business Page
First of all, for those of you who created a Google Places page back when those existed, all you need to do is log in to the Places dashboard and click to upgrade your page to a Google+ Business Page. (When you arrive on the Places dashboard, look for the image below.)
For those of you who are starting from scratch, follow the instructions below:
- Start by clicking here: http://www.google.com/business/placesforbusiness/. (Please note: In order to create a Google+ Business Page, you must first have your own personal Google+ account. Click here for instructions on creating your Google+ Profile.)
- Click Get started for free.
- Fill out the form to add a listing. Be sure to provide your full, official company name, your local phone number (not a toll free number), and the category that best describes your organization.
- After you click Submit, you will either continue on to create your page, or you will receive a notification that says, “This listing has already been verified.” Instructions will be provided on how to receive administrative rights to your organization’s listing.
Despite the scattered branding of Google+ Local, I think Google is going to pull through in the end with a cohesive, socially integrated local search engine that will be very useful to consumers and very valuable to organizations. But rather than waiting around for Google to get their act together, I strongly suggest you take advantage of Google+ Local now and get one step ahead of your competition.
If you have any difficulties setting up your Google+ Local page, we would be happy to help! Click here to email a member of the Accrisoft marketing team.