Google+ Local made a mess of Google Places.
In the good old days, smart businesses signed up to manage their already existant Google Places pages, adding information on hours, products, and photos to the search results that turned up in Google Maps. Customers could find out all they needed to know about a business, plus reviews, on a Google Maps search result, which brought up those Google Places. Business owners also maintained their Google+ Business Page alongside their Facebook Page. One was map-based, the other two were social media properties.
Then Google created Google+ Local, through their Google+ social networking system, and phased out Google Places. And for a while, business owners had the conundrum of having a Google+ Business Page and a Google+ Local Page with no way to connect them together and have control over the entire package.
You can now connect the two, and you should.
How To Merge The Two
If you have manager access to your Google+ Page, you will be able to connect the two. It’s not difficult, but it isn’t exactly intuitive, either. There will be some time to wait and be patient, and even paper mail, to complete the full process.
1 – Make Things Public
At the top of your Google+ Business Page, click on the “Unverified” icon next to your business name. If you haven’t made necessary information public yet, Google will let you know what you need to change. This will include things like hours and location.
2 – Start Verification
Once everything is made public, click on the “Unverified” icon again. You will be directed to verify a business from a list Google provides you.
3 – Accept The Terms
Google will ask you to agree to a set of terms, and request a postcard with a PIN. They also give you an option to change information on your listing in the “Modify your profile” link below the postcard sample. Be sure your address is correct.
4 – Use The Postcard
A postcard from Google will arrive in about a week. It will instruct you to go to www.google.com/local/verify, where you can enter the PIN number.
5 – Wait For Verification
While you are waiting for Google to verify your listing, the unverified logo will not be visible to visitors. You will be able to see that it is in progress. If you feel that it is taking to long, you can request another PIN by clicking on the “In Progress” link.
Once you are verified, you’ll be able to see a checkmark near your business name on your Google+ Business Page.
A Couple Of Gotchas
There are a few things to keep in mind when merging the two pages:
- You have to have a Google+ Business Page before you can start the process of getting control of the new Google+ Local Page that has replaced the Google Places page you may have had control over prior to this.
- When you do connect the two pages as described above, you may find, unfortunately, that your Google+ Local Page may have ads from your competitors.
- And, finally, as of now you can’t complete the above procedure unless you’re listed as a local business (and not with a business with a “service area”).
If you have a business that fits the criteria (local, public address, etc.), you should merge your pages despite the “gotchas.” Having control over what appears when a customer uses her smartphone to search your business in Google Maps is better than leaving it up to Google. With your Google+ Business Page merged with Google+ Local, you can share the posts you have been sharing on Google+, share photos and information with your customers, and make use of some of the great Google+ features like hangouts and events.