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MIHMORANDUM
No. 1577
September 17th, 2012


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

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.