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Clearing Up Google's Local Optimisation Mess

11th Google plus.As a self-professed Google-holic, I am a huge fan of all things blue, red, yellow and green. They provide individuals and business with a wide range of inter-connected tools that have the potential to make our lives easier, more efficient and more productive. However from time to time they have a tendency to do quite the opposite.

Google provide two pivotal tools that help businesses get found for location orientated search queries – Google Places for Business and Google+ Local.

These are vital marketing tools for any business that offer their services/products within a specific region or location.

Google Places for Business has been around for some time and offers businesses the chance to identify themselves to Google by providing key information such as location, website, contact details, opening hours etc.

Creating a verified Google Places account means they can appear in the seven business listings that often show on the first page of results for local search queries.

Being on Google+ gives businesses a whole host of benefits that help them engage with their customers and improve their organic rankings for personalised search engine results. However when Google added the ‘Local’ feature in 2012, some confusion arose as to what it is and how it links to search results.

Google+ Local allows users to search for businesses and services local to them within the platform. Users can create a Google+ Local page by choosing the “Local Business or Place” category during the set up.

It gives them all the features of a normal Google+ business page such as being able to post and share content but with the added features of a Google Places for Business account. It’s the ideal way to get the most out of the social functionality of Google+ while also getting found within local search results and Google maps.

However there is one small problem – Google created default Google+ Local pages for any business with a Google Places account in an attempt to merge the two. These pages do not have the same social features that other pages do but are searchable within the platform.

This has lead to many businesses being on Google+ and not knowing it. Also if they already had a business page, they had another default local page created from their Places account – confusing!

So here’s what to do if you’ve found yourself in this situation or you’re confused about Google+ Local or Places for business…

If you’re starting from scratch then you’re in luck! Just head straight to Google+ and create a page under the “Local Business or Place” category and verify it by post code of telephone. This means you’re ready to be found on Google+, local search engine results and Google Maps.

If you already have Places account, simply follow the above steps and Google will automatically link your Google Places account with your Google+ Local page on verification. You can then manage both from your Google+ dashboard.

If you already have a Google+ page created under a different category from “Local Business or Place” and a separate Places account then there’s some bad news….you can’t link the two together.

Because you can’t change a page category after it’s created you either have to delete your Google+ page and start again or manage 2 separate pages – your old page and your default local page.

Hopefully that clears up the confusion but if you’re in any doubt about this anything regarding local optimisation, contact our Digital Marketing Team for more information.

To find out more about Google and Google+ come along to our training sessions. Click here to find out more or call 08454561022

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