Back in August, Google started to allow businesses to merge their Google+ Business page with their Google+ Local listing. The names make it confusing, so think of it this way – you’re merging your Facebook business page with your Google Places map listing.
Now, whenever someone clicks over to get directions or read your reviews, you’re able to brand your page and share social updates – all in one place.
Unfortunately, there are tons of bugs in the system that can make merging your pages a huge pain in the you-know-what. It’s gotten so bad that most local SEO experts (and even a few Google employees) are telling businesses to hold off on merging. It’s definitely a Dr. Frankenstein situation – it’s almost like you’re trying to put two things together that don’t really belong (and you’re holding the result together with a few staples and duct tape).
IMPORTANT NOTE: You are only allowed to merge if you are a legitimate local business with a “real” business address where customers come to you. If you service customers at their location, or if you’re a “Service Area Business” with your address hidden, then you’re not allowed to merge. Yes, that stinks, but Google made the rules.
Even with all the bugs, merging IS possible – but it’s not for the faint of heart. You have to KNOW that there aren’t any problems with your current Google+ Local (Google Places) listing. If you’ve got problems already, the merge will only make things worse.
So – for those of you who want to forge ahead and try to merge, here’s a step-by-step walkthrough of how to do create a Google+ Business page and merge it with yoour Google+ Local listing:
(if you’ve already created your Google+ Business page and just want to see the actual merge steps, skip down to Step 6)
Log in to your Google account, then click the Google+ link on the far left of the black Google navigation bar. Once you’re in Google+, click the Pages icon on the bottom left. You’ll see this page – click the “Create new page” button.
Then you’ll see this screen. Click Local Business or Place – the top left option. THIS IS IMPORTANT – you can’t do a merge unless you choose this option.
Now you’ll enter your phone number. Make sure it’s a local number, not an 800 number – and it has to be the same number that’s on your Google+ Local (Google Places) listing.
Google will pop up a message that it has found a phone number that matches what you entered. Obviously, it should be your business listing from Google+ Local (Places). If your current listing doesn’t show up, something’s wrong and you should stop now. Again, if there are any data problems with your +Local (Places) listing, the merge will only make things worse.
After clicking your listing, you’ll be able to enter your business name (it’s important to put your ACTUAL business name – don’t try to stuff extra keywords). You’ll also be able to enter your website, which is obviously important to have listed. Click the check box to show that you agree with Google’s Pages Terms and click Continue.
Bam! You’ve created your Google+ Business page. Mouse over the Unverified link next to your business name and click Verify Now in the popup, or click the Verify now button on the lower right.
You’ll see this screen next, where Google alerts you to the fact that there’s already a listing for your business on Google search and maps. It’ll show your map pin and your address, taken from your Google+ Local (Google Places) listing. Click the blue Yes, let’s continue button.
Postcard verification is the only option for merges. You’ll have the option to enter your name for the address label, and it shows you a preview of what the card looks like. Click the blue Request postcard button.
Now you’ve just got to wait for your postcard, which should arrive in 7-10 days. Once you get it, mouse over the In Progress link and click the Enter PIN button in the popup, or click the blue Enter PIN button on the lower right. (If you don’t receive the card after 14 days, you can click the Request another PIN link in either location to ask for another card)
Boom! You’ve got a merged Google+ Page. You can upload a cover image and avatar to help brand your page – this will help your map listing stand out from other competitors. You won’t have the short character limit for your business description anymore – you can write a longer, more useful description in the Introduction section. You can even include links! You’ll also have your reviews listed under your About tab, and your social updates will be listed under the Posts tab.
Once you’ve merged your +Business page with your +Local listing, DO NOT USE YOUR PLACES DASHBOARD TO EDIT INFORMATION! You should ONLY make edits inside of Google+ – otherwise, wacky things could happen. Google has been very clear in these instructions, and it’s best to heed their advice when it’s one of the rare occasions that they’ll actually say something straight out.
Social interaction on your Google+ Local listing is one of the factors that determines how your listing will rank locally, so completing a merge and regularly posting engaging content could make a huge difference in how your business shows up in Google.
If you’re a car dealer and you’d like help with your search engine strategy, AutoRevo’s automotive Search Engine Optimization team can help boost your online visibility and get more visitors on your website. Call us today at 888-311-7386 to find out more about what we do and how it will benefit your dealership.