Syncing Your Google Plus and +Local Pages: Plusses and Minuses

MIHMORANDUM NO. 1577 | September 17th, 2012Reader Comments (51)

I’m not necessarily saying anyone should do this right now, as the implications of syncing / switching over completely to a Google +Local page are still unclear.  But, since I have virtually stopped taking on new clients for my consulting business in order to focus the vast majority of my time on GetListed, I decided to experiment with the new verification process for David Mihm Web Design / Local SEO.  So, for those of you still on the fence, perhaps the following before-and-after walkthrough will help you decide whether it’s right for your business to sync yet.

Please note, as Mike Blumenthal pointed out in his version of this post:

- If you do not have a +Business page then you can’t start this process until you create one.
- If you have a +Business Page which doesn’t have a page category of Local, it cannot be upgraded.

Cliffs Notes on the Process

  1. If you haven’t already, create a Google Plus Page for your business at plus.google.com, and choose “Local Business” as the type of page.
  2. If you haven’t already, create / verify a more traditional +Local Page at google.com/placesforbusiness.
    (note that 1 and 2 can be done in any order; make sure they’re both done in the same Google account)
  3. Visit your Google Plus Page signed into your Plus account.
  4. Mouse over “Unverified.”
  5. Go through the Verification prompts.
  6. Wait for the postcard to arrive.
  7. Re-visit your Plus page.
  8. Mouse over “In Progress” and click the Enter Pin button.
  9. Enter the PIN that is included in your postcard.

The Initial Verification

I had already set up a generic Plus page for my business (which, stupidly, I forgot to take a screenshot of in advance).  But here’s an idea of what that page looked like prior to the upgrade from my friend and former client Brent Jorgensen of Creekside Environmental.  Mousing over the “Unverified” link brings up a verification prompt:

Going through the verification process is pretty straightforward.  Hopefully you’ve got your NAP squared away and there’s only one correct Place for your business already.  Just click “Yes, continue to verify.”

Note that postcard verification is the only option.  So for whatever reason, if this is going to be a problem for you, do not try to start this sync process.  However, the postcard looks exactly as Google promises and the color arrows are a major improvement over Google’s previously-generic-white-easily-mistaken-for-junk-mail-postcard.

+Local Page Before

More importantly, here’s what my +Local Page looked like before the sync.  Note the little “four-corner” icon next to my business name that already denoted this as a “page” and the large “Manage This Page” button on the right-hand sidebar. After snorting some salt and taking a shot (That is what you’re supposed to do for good luck, right?), I went back to my Plus Page and verified.

Verification

Here’s what my Plus page looked like prior to/during the verification process:

I clicked on the big blue “Enter PIN” button and got the following screens:

+Local Page After

It actually didn’t take “a few days,” more like a few minutes, before I got this result:

Note that the default “tab” showed my latest stream rather than the more traditional “About” section.  (This seems to have since changed.) Also the default photos came from my previous Plus page rather than my +Local page.

In the new synced page, all management seems to be done via the Plus interface, as opposed to Places for Business. The “Introduction” line shows up as “From the Owner” on the public version of the page where the former Place Page Description used to be.  It all seems pretty intuitive, and as Mike demonstrated with his poster-child client Barbara Oliver Jewelry, that field is now far more useful than the old 200-character limit.

Even incorrectly-placed pushpin can be moved directly from this interface (although unlike Introduction edits, they do NOT update in real-time).  Just this week, videos can now be added as well.  And, as an aside, I received a very professional call from Google approximately one month later to verify that the crazy hours of operation that I specified were actually correct.

Importantly, there is no business-owner category management from this interface.  This must be done via the public “Edit Business Details” link and as a public user, you’re only going to have two options for categories instead of five. (The blue “Business owner Edit this page” button at the top of the screen still points to the Places for Business dashboard, strangely, even with a synced listing.)

The Net-Net-Net

Having gone through the process, the benefits of the extended descriptions and links you can add to a sync’ed +Local page, and the early-adopter ability to promote ONE single Plus presence for your business seem pretty substantial.  If you satisfy the following criteria, I’d recommend syncing at your earliest convenience:

  1. You are a single-location business.
  2. You have the ability to postcard verify.
  3. Your Place Page is in the same Google Account as your Plus Page (hat-tip Mike Blumenthal)
  4. Your Place Page categories are well-established in the +Local cluster already.

51 Responses to “Syncing Your Google Plus and +Local Pages: Plusses and Minuses”

  1. Mike Blumenthal says at

    Several notes.

    1)It appears that some users, instead of receiving a postcard, receive an email instead.

    2)The Dashboard can still influence the listing. Google recommends against using it as it might cause the old 2 owners of the listing issues if the emails are different. But for whatever reason even after a business has gone through the claiming process the inputs from the dashboard are still active. BE CAUTIOUS and only use if the email address is the same as the one that claimed the Plus Page (for local).

  2. Linda Buquet says at

    Great overview David – Thanks!

    2 additional situations that should maybe be added to your criteria at the bottom.

    You should NOT try to verify/merge if you currently are having data issues with your Place page. Get the data issues corrected 1st on the Place page.

    You should NOT try to verify if you are a service area business (even if address not hidden) as the service area feature is not available yet. Only storefront or customer facing offices are eligible at this time.

    These are both per Google: https://productforums.google.com/forum/#!category-topic/business/nqzouJ3KkU8

  3. Mike Stewart says at

    David,

    We just got a call over the weekend from a Google Quality verification team regarding our listing. Would you recommend waiting any amount of time before merging?

  4. David Mihm says at

    @Mike thanks for Tip #2. I am adding that to my Net-Net-Net

    @Linda a) I’ve never bought that the service area feature of Places ever worked the way Google intended it to do so. b) Did Google explicitly say service area businesses who go through this process would be banned or penalized? No. If you’re a service area business who meets the above criteria, I would go ahead and try it if you think the advantages of the longer description, other social links, etc. are worth it. The fact is there was plenty of advantage to being a first-mover with many Place Page features before Google caught up with its Places guidelines. Just because the guidelines have not been created for +Local yet does not mean businesses should hold back. There may be business Plus pages that don’t have the option to sync, but if it’s there and you want to try it, I’d say go for it.

    @Mike I would see if any changes were registered in MapMaker history as a result of the Quality Verification. If they’ve registered, then I’d go ahead and start the process. If they’ve not registered, I’d wait ~30 days (you’ll see why in a blog post Mike B. has coming out this week).

  5. Mike Blumenthal says at

    The real issue around service involves a hidden address. The verification process screws up. Google has explicitly noted that they should not attempt to verify.

  6. David Mihm says at

    Not surprised on the hidden address thing. Given how lat-long specific everything else in Google’s mapping infrastructure is…

  7. Josef Severson says at

    Thanks for the post David! Informative content. The before/after pictures I found to be especially valuable.

    Isn’t step two of the cliff notes is unnecessary? I believe you do not have to create/verify a listing in Google Places to verify a listing on Google+. If you’re setting up a listing for the first time or if you have an unverified Google Places listing- you can go ahead and side step Google Places entirely and create a +business page and follow the verification instructions from there on. Unless there is a benefit to verifying in Google Places and then verifying in Google+?

  8. David Mihm says at

    Josef, thanks for stopping by. Importantly, you are not able to add more than two categories to a normal Google Plus page. Given how important categories have historically been to ranking, I do not think it wise to verify a Plus page without an accompanying Place Page in the cluster first.

  9. Josef Severson says at

    Thanks for clearing that up. I suppose a a listing would need to be verified to have the categories have weight? Sounds like some double mail pin # fun.

  10. Kristi Hines says at

    Thanks for the overview! I’ve been asked by several people about whether they should go ahead and do this or not. Now I can give them this guide as a reference.

  11. Jorge Cordova says at

    I see that you mention that both listings should be in the same account. In the industry that I specialize in, there are always problems with multiple accounts belonging to the same Local Listings and so on. I’m hoping that once we create a Google Business page and then merge it, this will cut down the amount of potential duplicate listing creation, multiple information channels funneling into one listing, etc. I have been hesitant on moving with the merge but I think it is time to try for a couple of my “trouble” accounts. Thanks for the overview.

  12. Rebekah says at

    Thanks, David. VERY helpful.

  13. Cesar M. says at

    Great article. very very helpful
    thanks
    Cesar m.
    Montes Electric, Inc.
    Charlotte, NC

  14. Trina says at

    Super article.

    @Mike B
    Yes, email verifications are being sent directly from Google stating they have expedited the verification process and that if you receive the postcard to toss it out. I have received 12 of these email verifications so far. Hoping the rest will be auto verified by Google because clients always throw those postcards out thinking they’re junk mail.

  15. Dean says at

    Don’t have the option to begin stage one of verification for +local pages here in the UK yet, although I am not too worried about that as I am still dealing with data issues.

  16. Nick says at

    Very insightful article David, thanks. I encountered the verification issue with Google Plus Local for the first time today. If a Google Places page has recently been verified do we also have to get the G+ Local page verified as well? This means that my clients may have to receive 2 PIN postcards from Google depending on what stage of set up they are at? Should we even bother setting up new Google Places pages via the old dashboard?
    Confused
    Nick

  17. Christopher West says at

    Love your in depth articles – I have some issues where a clients Google and Places account is actually Different to their G+ account – makes it hard to sync up… although cant figure out why they have two accounts in the first place.

  18. Ian says at

    Hi David, I created a +business page when they first come out. I’ve verified via the pin when that was available, but now the page that I setup isn’t showing in the places results, it’s a different one. And the one I verified isn’t showing as verified.

    What a mess Google has created.

  19. Casey Meraz says at

    Great post David. It was very intuitive. Have you seen an increase/ decrease in local rankings based on migrating vs. migrating? Is there a direct or noticeable benefit to doing it now?

  20. Vince says at

    David et al,

    Question about RANKING. I have not seen this covered yet anywhere if it has, please direct me. My question is whether there is any ranking benefit, detriment or no change when you complete the syncing process. I’ve been hesitant to sync clients that are ranking #1 for the Google+ Local (places) page. Seems the only direction they can do is down so I’ve held off even on ones that match your recommended criteria. Am I being overly cautious? Have you or anyone else seen any ranking benefit to syncing, or lost ranking? Or any change when it comes to the geographical ranking (meaning they ranked for an outlier city prior to syncing then they lost ranking in the outlier). My understanding is while Plus only using 2 categories, the 5 from places are still being factored in. Perhaps at some point google will toss the places categories and only use the 2 from plus as part of their ranking algorithm?

  21. sam says at

    Do you still get access to the dashboard analytics (impressions and actions) after the switch ?

    Do the reviews carry over the new Local+ page ?

  22. Andrew Forster says at

    In our experiences, some clients have actually dropped positions after doing the merge. Their organic SERP’s can rank higher than the local listings depending on the search phrase.

    For single location businesses, I think there’s no reason not to, however for multiple location businesses, I think we’ll wait until there is a better system in place. For example, in Google+ Manager mode, there is no way to identify which business listing is which, other than the avatar picture. Makes it a little confusing, just my two cents :P

  23. Boruch Fishman says at

    As a side perk to verifying Google+ pages, I have found that clients on long term pending with Google Places will rank right away on Google Places when their Google + page is verified. I am talking about legit businesses that somehow got shoved under the rug through a Google glitch and received an email from Google telling them that Google was trying to enter their listing back into the rankings but hasn’t yet come up with a fix. The current rankings of these companies seem very dependent on the categories assigned to them on their Google + page. For example, one company with the assigned category “bed bug treatment team” (wasn’t my idea) comes up first on Google Places for that search.

  24. Guy Manningham says at

    Finally sucked it up and joined to ban wagon. Google pretty much forces companies to go along with whatever they’re doing or fall to the side.

  25. 4ftPhotography says at

    i really need help with my google page! please?

  26. Luke Westberg says at

    My client’s place page was ranking first or second for target keywords. I verified a new google+page and the place page is no more. What’s better is that he’s nowhere to be found in the local results anymore. Will it take a few weeks before google will stop punishing us for taking an interest in their product?

  27. melanie kovero says at

    Thankyou. Great instruction. Since doing this reviews plaed there by y customllyers are not appearing. Several customers gleefully told me they had reccommended us on google. But no reviews show. Any suggestion how to fix this?

  28. John says at

    I merged pages too early for two clients, and now have boatloads of issues with one of them.

    Now Google only allows you to verify the address with a phone call, and I’ve run into huge trouble due to a P.O. Box mailing address. My client’s address is a warehouse where they can not receive mail, however, they have a P.O. Box at a post office within 100 yards of their location. To further complicate the issue is that the location and the post office have different P.O. boxes despite their close proximity.

    I have submitted a form to the Google+ business support team and not heard back.

    How are other businesses successfully working around the P.O. Box issue?

  29. Jessa says at

    I own a marketing company and have verified half of my businesses so far merging their two listings… it was a very very bad move to merge. We are now having review issues, MAJOR placement problems we don’t show anymore this includes 5 businesses and more due to the merge.

    I am very disappointed in Google lately with implementing a Yelp like algorithm and the places pages having major issues for a while now I am starting to really get disheartened.

  30. Aaron Dwyer says at

    I’m going to give this a try. I’ve just created my Google Plus page, which is what I thought I was doing by having Google Local page, and having a Google Plus profile. Seems I missed having a specific business page. I had noticed my competitors had longer descriptions in their places results, so here’s hoping this works. I can’t wait to verify so that I can have longer descriptions and better photo / video options.
    Aaron

  31. Sheri says at

    Verifying was the worst decision for us. We’ve lost ranking on Local, have lost 4 reviews and merged with another similarly named business. I wish I had read some of the comments here first and thought twice!

  32. Nadina Bozova says at

    Hello,

    What do I do if I receive a pin, but Google says it’s incorrect?

    Thank you!

  33. Hannah says at

    If I’m not mistaken, it looks like you may have verified your page here, but not completed a full merge. I say this because with Google’s prime example, the Meatball shop, they have reviews as well. Your page (in the screenshots) doesn’t look like it has reviews or the option to review. Am I correct?

  34. Kevin says at

    I created a Google+ Business page. I would like to add my second location ( I have offices in two states). I cannot find any option for that. It appears to only allow you to edit the one existing location. Should I create a whole separate Google+Business page for the second office? Also, should I delete my Google places listings? Why can’t they just leave things alone! Please help!

  35. Kate Huebler says at

    @Kevin, I would suggest don’t delete your google places listings. Once you verify them it will merge, just leave them in the backend.

    For your second location, you have to make a second Google+ business page for the different place. Hope that helps.

  36. Kate Huebler says at

    @ Nina. Ya, it sucks and has happened to me. You have to request a new postcard. You can try calling in to their help line, but they will tell you the same thing (because I called about the same issue). http://support.google.com/places/bin/static.py?hl=en&ts=1399021&page=ts.cs

  37. Kate Huebler says at

    Whoops, misread your name. That was for Nadina.

  38. David Mihm says at

    Hi Lynn,
    You might check out this post from Mike Blumenthal which details the process for phone support at Google Places.

  39. Geoff Jackson says at

    Google seem to have made an already complicated process, even more complicated with the syncing with Google+. There are links on Google+ that still link to parts of Google Places, and vice versa. We’ve come across a number of businesses that can’t even get their head around Google+, let alone the whole migration from Google Places to Google Local and the syncing between Google Local and their +Business page. That being said though, it’s good to see such an improvement to the Local support now.

    Have any of you (David, Mike or Linda) noticed any difference in local rankings (7 pack / maps) since the syncing of your Local and +Business pages on Google+?

    Thanks.

  40. Corey Barnett says at

    Sorry, just wondering… How are you on Google + Local. Wouldn’t David Mihm Web Design be a service business?

  41. C.J says at

    Hi there,

    I have a question to ask: after I get the post card verification from Google, can I edit my business address on Google plus business page? I don’t want to change my business address, but only want to omit the house number. e.g if my verified address is: Apartment 5, Long Road, London. Can I edit it on the Google plus business page to an address like this: Long Road, London. ? THank you.

  42. Nima says at

    Hi
    Thank you for all your inputs. After merging the two I am unable to delete the pictures that I had on my google places. Google plus does not even give me the option of deleting it!
    I went ahead and deleted those pictures form my google places but it still shows up on my google plus. Any ideas how to correct this problem?
    Thanks

  43. Brittany says at

    Thanks for this guide David. Very useful!

  44. Digital Key Design says at

    Thanks for the info. I’m in the process of syncing a few accounts Places pages to their Google+ and will help make the process a little easy.

  45. Steve MacDonald says at

    Great post! It is extremely exciting to have an all-new social network on the scene that can provide competition, stimulate innovation and make the world of social networking a better place for all of us .

  46. Mike says at

    My site has been ranking steadily for some time near the top but since I created the Google+ local page (still waiting for the ridiculous postcard to verify) I am continuously moving further and further into no man’s land and I am not too happy about it. Personally, if there was a way to go back and undo, I’d do it… and I recommend to anyone that has good rank not to mess with it …

  47. Glen Wilson says at

    I have noticed since this laborious process was setup by Google, many of clients have had their postcards go missing. It really is a convoluted system. I hope Google make this a little more easier.

  48. Andy Kuiper says at

    This is STILL a hassle here in Canada – ack! :-)

  49. Yvette Betancourt says at

    I have requested postcard w/PIN # 5 times over the last year and never received it. Very frustrated. Not sure how to proceed. I need to claim our listing.

  50. Philippe Jacquet says at

    The process is really confusing. I’m not happy seeing frequent changes made by Google. Unless you have someone to monitor your online presence all this is a huge waste of time. I’m not seeing Google as business friendly anymore, for sure not for small business.

    Article itself is great though.

  51. Ama says at

    Hi,
    thank you, but I seem not to find answer to my problem; I have created a Google +Page for business with Gmail account (which can’t be done without a Google +profile page). Now, I’ve created a Google +Local page, feed in the required data (awaiting verification as I’ve not yet received the postcard) but noticed that Google has automatically created another page for my business.
    The Google +Page now linked to the Google +Local is the automatically generated one but not the one I’ve created and have been using for long now.
    Is there anyway of merging these two Google +Pages?
    I cannot wait to hear from you,
    Thank you.

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