Why You Must Merge Your Google+ Local And Google+ Page Now

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…If you have a “Local Business or Place”.

If you’re a local business, you want to be found and do business within a 3 to 5 mile (4 to 8 km) radius of your street address.

43% of Google search queries are local. 74% of these local searches are conducted on mobile devices. (reviewtrackers.com )

Google Places

What is a Google+ Local Page

Your Google+ Local Page is the merger of your Google Places listing ( now called Google+ Local) and your Google+ Business Page.
It extends your Places information to include directions, reviews, photos, videos and other Google+ Page features.

Ten months ago, Google dumped Places and replaced it with Google+ Local.
All of the data was migrated to the new Google+ Local which appears on your Google+ page.

Your Places listing will still show up in Google searches, but without merging it with your Google+ Page, you’re missing out on pumped up SEO and customer engagement.
You’re using a horse to pull your Rolls-Royce.

Google Local

Why Should You Merge?

Google+ Local was designed to be integrated with Google+ Pages so not having them merged means you’re missing out on:

1. Improved search results. Google+ Locale sites are grouped at top of SERP’s

Google places

2. Expanded visuals with Posts, About, Photos and Videos tabs added

3. Direct interaction with customers by sharing links, posts and videos

4. Word of mouth  recommendations with Zagat Reviews. Using a 30 point scale, Zagat  provides a more nuanced rating system that considers four categories i.e. food, decor, service and cost in it’s overall average.

Google Places Reviews from your friends video)

5. Freeing your time by assigning multiple managers to your Google+ Local Page who can manage your Business Location data from there.

6. Being able to have multiple Pages for multiple branches or departments (Hospital, department store). (Some provisions exist like having separate phone numbers etc.. See: Google+ Local Quality Guideline Update Allows for Multiple Departments )

7. “Friend” recommendations showing up in searches.

Any searches made in Google Search, on Google+ Local, or in Google Maps will feature results from that user’s Google+ Circle connections.

Google+ Local Search Favours Friends.

Example: When I search for Cafés in Montreal while logged into my Google account, sites that contain reviews from my friends (circles) will appear higher in the rankings than others.

 

So Why Ain’t You Merging?

I spent the better part of a day researching the local scene. I wasn’t able to find a single local business that has merged it’s Places listing with a Google+ Business Page.

Three posible reasons for that:

1. They haven’t registered their Google Local Listing yet.

2. Google+ is off their radar and they haven’t created a Google+ account

3. They tried, but didn’t fall into the right business category.

With regards to #1 and #2, persuasive Google+ articles can be found here on Steamfeed and at my blog, NewRayCom.

 

local business

As for the 3rd, you can only merge your listing with your Google+ Page if your category is “Local Business or Place”.


If you’re a ‘product or brand’,  ‘company, institution or organization’ ; ‘arts, entertainment, or sports’; or ‘other’, your listing will still appear on a Google+ page but won’t be verified, meaning you won’t have the the social networking enhancements.

Note: Your business classification relates to how you set up your Google+ Business Page and not to your Google+ Local Listing set up.

 

Your To-Do List.

1. Claim your Google Places listing now.

2. Create, verify and optimize your Google+ Business Page.

If you already have a Google Places listing, you also have a Google+ Local page.

-  fill in all relevant information such as Name, address, Phone number, hours –  Add links to other places on the web where you can be found.

-  Add photos and videos

-  grow your circles (easier now that you can circle anyone)

-  Share content

3. Monitor and encourage reviews.

72% of consumers surveyed said that they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. 52% said that positive online reviews make them more likely to use a local business.

 

Google Places Merge Google Local and Google Plus Business Page Video

How many local businesses have made the “merge” in your area?

If you’d like to learn more about Google plus, subscribe to my Weekly Google+ Tips Newsletter. This also gets you an invitation to my Wednesday G+ Lunch Hangout.

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Ray Hiltz
Ray Hiltz is a Social Media Strategist with management roots in restaurant, hotel and performing arts. He's a believer in the power of collaborative communication and "humanized" digital networking. Ray writes about social media, social business and Google Plus on his blog: NewRayCom.com. His clients include hotels, restaurants, consulting firms, entrepreneurs, writers and freelancers. Ray is a popular speaker on Social Media, Social Business and Google+.
Ray Hiltz
Ray Hiltz
Ray Hiltz
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  1. What if your places is under one account and the page is under another? I set up my Google place like my Facebook page, under my personal G+ when it was first available. But my Google Places was under the company Google account. Thanks! Been wondering about this for some time now.

    • You'd have to set up your G+ Business Page under the same account that you had set up your Places listing originally.

      As I mentioned, it's not the most intuitive process and due to their priority on making sure the business is verified and a "Local Business or PLace", they don't leave a lot of wriggle room.
      Thanks for dropping by. :-)

    • There are actually options to transfer ownership of your places page to another account. I'm not sure of the exact process, but if you do a web search I am sure you will find it. If I remember correctly, you will first have to set your other account as a manager on the places page and then after a couple of weeks you can make the other account the owner.

  2. Not sure how many local have merged or not, but many local business didn't even know about Places and perhaps the situation is similar where they are just unaware of G+ Local. Great info in the post, by the way. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and expertise.

    • Thanks, Gary.
      I think you're right. While writing this, I checked for stats re. how many smb's had: 1. Listed on Places and 2. made the merge to G+ Local Page.

      Not surprisingly, I found that the majority haven't listed their business on Places and couldn't find a local business near where I live.

      I think local businesses think Facebook when they think social media and the people advising them haven't made the connection between Google search re maps listing and Google+.

  3. I have been trying to do this for months. But Google in its infinite wisdom has decided that the only way to verify the address is to send a post card. While this may work for the individual business, I have 5 and none are set up to receive mail. It is like that so they all get mail at the central office. This extra verify process is impossible in my situation. And it's not like I have not already verified my places of business before under Google Local, with the same email address. I even get a link to manage this place when I got to the google plus page. This makes no sense and is probably why people have not "merged". Google is making it impossible for people like me.

    • Thank for the feedback, Matt.
      I can only assume that they use the postcard method to ensure you have a "Local Business or Place" which normally means you have a mailing address.

      Even if you had verified your Places listing before, to merge with Google+ Page, you have to verify it again (part of setting up G+ Page process).

  4. Great article and shared with a consulting client just this afternoon! I walked into her store this AM telling her she (her clothing store) was not on Google maps. The homework was for her to get on Google local and on the way back I saw your post pop up. I sent her a link in an email. Great timing! :)

  5. This would make sense if this was the method employed to begin with. However, the old verification process used postcards or an automated phone call to the locations published phone number. I was able to do all my locations in a week that way. Like many things that they do, I do not understand the reasoning.

  6. thanks for staying on top of the latest happenings with The Google! very useful info, Ray. I'm sharing with a client.

  7. Thanks for this brilliant post Ray – it is extremely useful. An issue that I come up against frequently is the fact that some of my clients have multiple locations (Google+ local listings) for example a chain of five separate stores across a geographical location but they don't want to create five separate Google+ business pages. What would be ideal is one Google+ page that could link to multiple Google+ local listings. I would be very interested to hear how others handle this situation.

    • Thank, Imogen.
      The ability to have a page for multiple locations of the same business is new and I'm not sure if it's fully rolled out yet.
      I don't have clients in that situation.
      Of course you're about to add links to other locations on your Page, but Google wants to emphasize the "local" in Local Pages which is why they make us jump through hoops to verify our address.

      While there's only one Page per location, can't see why they couldn't feed posts etc to that Page if they didn't want to manage their own.

      Thanks for dropping by. :-)

  8. Hi guys,

    Linda Buquet here. I'm a Google Top Contributor and help Google deal with issues like this at their forum every day.

    Just wanted to make folks aware that Google says DO NOT MERGE YET and experts like Mike Blumenthal and I have been saying that all along. It's too buggy and BETA.

    Just one example: There have been major 500 errors for folks that have merged where they they get locked out of their G+ page. This has been going on since August. Months now with NO fix yet. And that's just one of many problems. And since it's uncharted territory it can be time consuming to deal with the issues because sometimes Google does not even have answers for some of the problems that are cropping up.

    Plus many types of businesses do not qualify to merge yet even if you decide to risk it and want to try. You can't merge if you are a service area business OR a multi-location business OR if there are data issues on you Google+ Local page.

    2 IMPORTANT ISSUEs for those that have already merged. If you have a service area business with address hidden (which is needs to be or Google will delete your listing) and if you already merged even though you weren't supposed to – Google now says you must delete your G+ Business page and go back to a plain G+ Local Page.

    Also if you've already merged it's important you don't edit anything in the old Places dashboard.

    There are multiple articles about all these issues at the Google forum and the Local Search Forum if anyone needs more in-depth info. Just wanted to drop by because most folks don't know that even though there IS an option to merge now – Google even says wait until some new options come out and things get more stable.

    • Appreciate your feedback, Linda.

      I haven't been able to find any official word from Google that advises we don't merge, but I have heard and read many reports of confusion and "bugginess".

      I'm sharing a link that you had shared in a recent post to a Google Product Forum from last August: http://goo.gl/wCtkV

      I believe that if you're a "Local Business/Places" business, single location the process is fairly straight forward and the advantages to manage and network with clients a good thing.

      If, as you say you have "data" issues with your Places listing, multiple locations or fall outside the "storefront" category, things could get messy.

      Again, appreciate your input.

  9. Hi Ray, there is part of that info you linked to that says WAIT. But it's written so vaguely that I missed it too, until Joel from Google said WAIT at LocalU.

    I emailed Joel and Jade from Google after I saw that quote from LocalU and they pointed out, that all along they said WAIT, in the link you shared.

    That link from Google you shared, in the 2nd bullet under Should I verify says:

    "Verified owner in the Google Places for Business: continue to manage your information from the Google Places for Business dashboard and please wait for further instructions. We are working on a smooth upgrade process for everyone."

    Here is the quote from Mike Blumenthal quoting Joel from Google saying wait don't merge. Along with my discussion from Jade that pointed out that part of the link you shared saying wait. http://localsearchforum.catalystemarketing.com/go

    I know it's so hard to follow and know what to do, because Google has made this whole thing so confusing and we are in this weird transition where many things are just sort of half baked.

    Now as you said "the advantages to manage and network with clients a good thing" and it's perfectly fine to create a G+ Biz page in the local category and start posting and building circles. (Does not need to even be in the same account – you can still merge when the time comes – but merging could be a little more automatic IF in same account). BUT I would just wait and leave the 2 pages separate for not and not try to merge just yet.

    • Linda,
      Why do you think Google is being so obscure about this.
      The only reference to them insinuating not to merge is that sentence in a forum form August.
      Meanwhile, many businesses have and are using the merged G+ Local Page.

      I've tried to find some official word without luck.

      If they feel that it's dangerous to merge then why don't they pull the option until they get that "smooth" upgrade process?

      Thanks for taking the time to provide this info., Linda.
      Appreciated.

  10. Linda and Ray,

    What happened to the videos in Google places? I know they're in the dashboard, but they're no where to be found on mobile devices or desktop browser when in Google+places

  11. Ray obscure is Google's middle name. ;-)

    Manny videos were disabled in Places several months ago. No one knows for sure why. But I suspect the code broke and they didn't want to fix because engineers were working on getting + integration done which is taking forever.

  12. This was a great article. I have never really been 100% positve on how to approach my Google + accoung and Google Places. I am now going to begin to optimize it and hope to see some traffc and conversions!

    • Thanks, Kyle.
      As you can tell from the comment stream and in particular, Linda's contribution, Google+ Local is a work in progress. But it's well worth hangin' in there. :-)

  13. naturistsholiday says:

    Great article Ray, what if the Google+ business page is not verified yet. I can manage it but haven't received the verification code yet. In that case would it be possible for me to merge them? Any advice!

    • If you've already your Google+ Local listing it will show up on your Page and you can manage your listing from there.
      The only thing that you can't do it the "social" part and share videos etc..
      Once you get verified (assuming you're a "Local Business or Place" category", you will be merged automatically.
      Hope this helps.

      • Cool beans. You just answered my question too. I just noticed this morning that the other wedding shooters in my area all had links to G+ pages. Did some searching as to why, and found your article. While I already had a "Places/Local" page, I didn't have a G+ business. Thanks for the article, now all I have to do is wait for the code in the mail.

  14. Jack Butler says:

    Hi Ray,
    We have set a bunch of our clients up as a "Company" as we thought this was the correct thing to do. Now, it seems in order for their Plus and Local accounts to merge they need to be under the category of Local Business or Places.
    Do you know of a way that you change an existing "Company" categorized page to make it "Local Business or Places" so that we can merge ours together?

    Thanks in advance.

  15. Hi Jack, I have the same problem. I have a company page and a local/place. I wanted to merge them, however, as Ray suggests, this is not possible.

    This poses a question. Is it indeed right to merge a company and a local/place? I.e. We're a national company offering hosting across the UK. If we became a "local business", would that mean that our results were only being shown to local people, and not nationally?

  16. I tried to merge my G+ accounts today, this is my experience, if it helps anyone

    If your person + account has the same name as your brand page, it can be done, you can copy and merge circles, but not posts.

    It did [for me] get a bit tricky with the log out log back in thing,, my problem was that I had not logged back into the destination account, in other words; log into the base account, do the work, log out, log into the destination account, complete the action.

    Ok, now the name thing.

    Maybe you have a profile [personal account} as john@gmail .com and by a stroke of luck your profile is called John. If you have your BRAND at the same email and has the same name, bingo, go for it.
    But, if like me your brand is held at brand@gmail [makes it easier to mange] then it is likely to show on your page as BRAND…. sorry, can't be done.

    That's how it worked for me, after I had jumped thru all Google's hoops, 3 times, I reached the end only to find a red notice" Accounts must have the same name.

    Oh, no option to log in with G+!!!

  17. Hi There, I just came across your post in trying to fix an error I just created myself today….my fingers are crossed that you may know the answer or have some advice! I started a 2nd gmail for our business and not even thinking got rolling along and joined google+ ONLY it didn't occur to me until I logged into our other gmail account that I JUST DID SOMETHING that affects the google places that I had originally set up as I noticed a dashboard saying the "We currently do not support the location" for the active listing on google. Uggggghhhh what did I just do?! Please help! I read above that you are to merge using the same account. I didn't even think about it! Foolish move here…i know they are sending me a pin for verification on this new gmail account now which i'm assuming is for business verification. Will our current google place listing be erased along with all reviews and SEO and ranking? Any advice here? I would greatly appreciate it as my eyes are welling up as I type this!

  18. I couldn't see the same categories with Google + as Google Places – in fact Google+ appears to be very restrictive in that area – couldn't even find a vaguely suitable category. I'm concerned that the lack of an appropriate category will hit the success of the website. Your thoughts on this would be welcome.

    Also, the postcard that turned up for verification had incorrectly formatted the address of the business for some odd reason. Can I correct the address without another lengthy period of verification via postcard?

  19. Ray,
    This is the first useful info I have read on this subject – Thank you for the info!

    I don't know if other people are experiencing the same level of frustration that I am, but I seem to have several problems with my G+ Listing & Business Page. I would LOVE to merge the two, but I can't figure that out.

    Among the more frustrating issues is that fact that my Business Page has reviews published at the bottom of the ABOUT page, but when clicking on the REVIEWS tab, it says "No reviews published yet." It says there are 3 reviews when viewing the listing in the Maps results, but still, nothing under the REVIEWS tab.

    The other issue driving me crazy is simply merging the two pages, (G+ Listing + Business Page) one of which has all my history – posts, videos, etc. and the other has my reviews. I don't want delete either page, but it obviously doesn't help much to have my info split between two pages.

    What should I do?

    Chris

  20. Thank you! Never knew you could do it – will start doing it immediately for all my listings.
    My recent post Staying Alive In A Tough Economy

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