Not only do the names sound similar, but since the differences between Google Places and Google+ can sometimes negligible in the eyes of the uninitiated, it’s no wonder many small business owners are left confused. In reality, Google Plus and Google Places are very different when it comes to the distinct advantages they bring, making both essential marketing tools for every small business owner.
There is probably nothing more convoluted, more confusing, more temperamental than Google Places. Loss of reviews, suspended listings, deleted listed, merged listings with another account. You name it, it happens with Google Places.
What is Google Places for Small Businesses?
In a nutshell, Google Places is simply made up of every bit of information about your business that is already out there. If you already have any online presence, Google Places has received this information from search engine queries and indexing and likely already has your business listed. Once you verify your business on Google Places, you then have more control over the information about your company that is out there.
Think of Google Places more of a review portal with minimal social element.
For example, filling in your exact location, hours of operation, precise contact information as well as uploading images and providing an SEO-rich description will give your business a more comprehensive and informative online presence. Not only does this help boost your rankings in the search engine result pages (SERPs), but it also helps garner leads and turn them into conversions.
What Are Google+ Business Pages?
If Google Places forms the backbone and structure of your small business’s online presence, then Google+ helps you add the face. Google+ for Businesses is the social aspect of the operation, giving you a way to stay connected with your clients, customers and leads. You can add all of your connections and customers into your circles, creating a solid in-road of interaction and information sharing.
Having your customers and clients in your circles will allow them to see updates from your business, including blog posts, reviews and feedback from other customers and websites as well as any information you share in your updates (similar to posting on Facebook or Tweeting). You can also add general business information and photos to help round out your social image, giving your customers and leads a better sense of who you are and what your brand message is.
Additionally, most in the SEO Community believe that an active Google+ account can help you rank higher in the SERPs, especially when your customers and connections have added you to their circles.
Similarities—Google Places and Google+ Local Business Pages
So aside from the benefits and implications of Google Plus and Google Places, what are the logistical similarities?
- The general information about your business including the name, location, hours, images, description and general content are the same.
- Customers can comment and review your business while leads can peruse these reviews.
- Both can be manipulated by anyone who verifies their business, giving you—or your social media and online marketing professional—direct control over updates and changes.
Other than that, the differences rest solely in the purposes the two pages serve. In fact, the pages even look similar. So why do you need both?
The Importance of Managing Your Google+ and Google Places Pages
The real reason you need to manage both of your pages is quite simple: they exist. In today’s competitive local and small business landscape, you can’t afford to let your competitors have the edge nor can you miss out on any opportunity that will put you ahead in the game. Google Plus and Google Places allow you to take control of your brand message, your Internet presence and your online reputation.
The Newer Google + Local Pages
Even more confusing is that a new Google Places account that is set up will automatically (in the vast majority of cases) will be set up as a Google+ Page and a Google Places page merged together in one, called a Google + Local page.
These pages can be extremely powerful, especially if you are leveraging your happy customers and turning them into salespeople for you by having them leave reviews.
If you don’t do any other form of online marketing this year, get yourself on Google Places and Google + , or Google + Local, doing so will allow you to get in front of local clients searching for your service.