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What's The Skinny On Google Places and Google Local?

Google Local Is The New Search Engine Optimization
Google Local Is The New Search Engine Optimization
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

If you’re a small business marketing to a local geographic area, you need both to effectively promote your business. Local search results show up at the top of each search page, above the “organic” or non-local results, and you have a good chance of getting first page ranking for your keywords if both your Google Places listing and Google+ Local page have been properly prepared and merged.

Google rolled out Google Places first (it used to be called Google Maps) and added Google+ later. Since both include some of the same information about your business, and need to be combined, or merged, for best results, keeping everything straight can get really confusing. We’ll try to keep things as simple as possible, and give you the information you need to get set up correctly.

Start With Google Places

Your Google Places listing is where you enter the information about your business that Google will show searchers. This includes details such as your business name and description, address and phone, hours of operation, and images. All listings must be verified by Google either by phone or mail.

Add Google Local

Google+ Local is where social sharing comes into play. You add customers and other business connections to your “circles” who can then view your blog updates and reviews, as well as the general business information from your Places listing.

Sounds Like a Lot of Work. Is This Really Important?

It’s absolutely vital to your business for two important reasons:

  1. One, you need to maintain control of your business name and reputation, or brand. You want to be sure that the vital information about your business and products is correct and up to date. You also want to be able to respond to customer questions and concerns.
  2. Two, you want to gain as much exposure for your business as you can. Google is placing more emphasis on the social aspects when it comes to deciding where your business will rank in the search results. In Google’s mind, the more your business is liked and followed, the more likely you are to have a reputable business that is providing an important and relevant product that deserves better search rankings.

Merging Places With Local

Once your Google+ Local Business page has been verified by Google, you will end up with a combined page known as a Google+ Local page. This contains your business profile from your Google Places account as well as the social information from your Google+ Business page.

Important Tips to Remember

  1. Be sure to use the exact same information when setting up your pages and profiles. If you enter “Acme Plumbing” at “125 Main St” on one, and “Acme Plumbing Company” at 125 Main Street” for another, you going to have problems.
  2. Use the same email address for submitting all page and profile information.
  3. Set up your Google Places listing first and your Google+ Local Business page second.