Navigating the complicated Google+ landscape can be a confusing ordeal for businesses – particularly local businesses. The Google+ label encompasses a number of different products that are related, but not as connected as one might think.
Google created Google+ to be a social network along the lines of Facebook – for sharing information like posts, images and videos. Initially, Google+ was only available for individuals – not businesses. Just as Facebook had done, Google then created Business Pages, so companies and brands could represent themselves on Google+. To this extent, Google and Facebook business presences are similarly managed – an individual creates an account, and can create or become a manager of a Page that represents a business. The individual can then use that Page in a similar manner that they would use an actual profile – such as creating posts and sharing images, that are shared as if from the business itself, not publicly tied to the individual.
The Google+ confusion comes in with the addition of Local information. Google migrated their Google Places listings into new listings called “Google+ Local” pages. Google+ Local pages are for physical business locations – they have addresses, phone numbers, and display maps of the business location. They also allow the Page manager to post business information, posts, photos and videos – the same things that can be posted on Google+ Business pages. Herein lies the confusion. It’s a very good idea for a business to have a Google+ page as a part of their social media strategy. If the business also has physical locations, it’s also important to have Google+ Local Pages for those locations, to have a good presence in local search results, providing accurate, detailed contact information. However, there’s actually no way to link together a Google+ Business page and a Google+ Local page. This leaves a local business owner in the difficult position of figuring out how to manage their Google+ presence for their business. If you create a Google+ Business page, you will not be able to show in local search results or display contact information. If you create a Google+ Local page, you will have to create a separate page for each individual location and duplicate all information shared if it’s applicable to the company overall and not just one specific location.
The best practices: If you have a business that is nationally focused or online only, create a Google+ Business Page and not a Google+ Local Page. If you have a local business with just one location, create a Google+ Local Page and not a Google+ Business Page. If you have a location-based business with multiple locations, create Google+ Local Pages for each individual location, and consider also creating a Google+ Business Page for overall company social interactions.