Okay, so during our webinar on the topic ‘What and Why of Google Plus for Business‘, many post-worthy queries came from our attendees. One topic that attracted multiple queries was ‘Google Places for Business and Google Local’ – (Whether businesses should have a Places account or Google plus Local account, what are the differences, and what makes sense for which business etc.).
I have tried to answer the basic queries in this post; let’s first understand what are Google Places for Business and Google Plus Local.
1. What is Google Places for Business?
Google Places for Business allows you to control what information shows up for your business in Local Listings (local searches). You can specify information including Business Address, Contact number, hours of operation etc. Google generally pulls information (about your local business) from multiple sources to show in local listings; creating a Places account gives you control over what information is displayed.
This is how a Google Places listing would look like:
This is how the Google Places for Business Page would appear:
As you can see, there is a map, operating hours and an option to write reviews. Under the map, you can see the About and Photos tabs.
2. What is Google Plus Local Page?
Google Plus Local combines the functionalities of Google Places for Business and Google Plus, thereby allowing businesses to control how they appear in local listings, in addition to allowing them social sharing capabilities. All the features of Google Plus pages, like sharing content, interacting with followers etc. are available.
Here’s how a verified Local Page would look like:
There are a few things you would spot that makes both Google Places and Google Local Page different from one another:
a.) In Google Local, you have Posts and Videos tab in addition to Photos and About Tabs that are present in Google Places as well.
b.) There is a Follow button in case of Google Local, unlike Google Places. This allows people to follow the business on Google Plus.
c.) The Post tab indicates that the business can interact socially with its followers, and others in its circle by posting updates etc. Note that it is not possible for a business to post updates through a Places account.
d.) You can see a ‘Verified’ sign next to the business logo (profile picture). That’s because it is a verified business. In case of Places account, the ‘Verified’ sign doesn’t appear even for verified businesses.
3. How to Create a Google Plus Local Page?
We have written a step-by-step tutorial for creating a Google Local page. Read it here.
4. While creating a Google Plus Page, can a business owner go back and change the category to Local Business?
When you create a Google Plus Business page, Google gives you multiple options (for business category) to choose from: Local, Product etc. If your aim is to appear as a Business in the local listings, you must choose Google Plus Local in the first step itself. If you choose any other option, and later realize that you wish to appear in the Local Listings as well, there would be no going back. The only option available to you then would be to delete the existing page and create a new local one. I don’t think anyone would want to do that, so you must take care of that as you create the account.
This is how the step looks like, and you have to choose ‘Local Business or Place’ option:
5. What should I create: A Google Places Account, Google Plus Local Page or Google Plus Page
Google Places: It has a pretty neat interface (much neater than Google Plus). If you are a business catering to a local audience (aiming to appear in Local Listings), and Posting as a Business is not very important to you, then you can go for this. If your business is verified, Google would eventually upgrade your account to a Google Plus Local account.
Google Plus Local: If you want to appear in Local Listings (address is important for your business), and you want to post socially as a business and engage with your followers, Google Plus Local is what you want.
Now, if you already have a local listing (Google Places), and you create and verify your Local Business (from Google Plus Local page), the listings get merged with the Page, thus enabling the functionalities of both Places and Local.
Google is also auto-upgrading some verified Google Places accounts to Google Local Pages; if it doesn’t happen for you automatically, and you have a verified business, you might see the upgrade option in your dashboard.
Google Plus: If your business address and locations are not very important to you, and social interaction is your main aim, Google Plus Page (other than Local) is the way to go.
6. Google hasn’t upgraded my Google Places for Business Dashboard to Local Page. Can I do it myself?
If Google doesn’t do it for you, you have an option to make the merge yourself. However, before doing that you have to make sure that your Places for Business account fits the following criteria:
a) You have verified the local business.
b) Your Places for Business email address must have a Google Plus profile.
c) Your Page must be in a Category eligible for Google Plus
If you fulfill these criteria, your dashboard would have a call to upgrade to G+ Local Page. If you see it, click on the button and you are set. If you don’t, wait while Google does it for all the older profiles.
7. How do I verify my Local Business?
There are two ways to verify your local business:
1) By Phone
2) By Postcard
While creating a Local Page, you would be prompted to Verify your Business. This is how the step looks like.
8. How does it help me to have the Business verified?
If a business is verified, only then does it appear in local listings. Also, people can write Reviews only for verified businesses.
9. How do I identify if a business is locally verified?
Generally, in case of a Local page, you would see a verification mark near the Business name. However, in case of a verified business’s Places account, that hasn’t been upgraded (or merged) to Pages yet, you would not see the verification mark. Also, the option to write reviews is there only for verified businesses.
These were a few of the basic queries about Google Places for Business and Google Local that came our way. If you would like to add something, or have some queries of your own, please feel free to post them here.