There have been many on-going changes that Google has been throwing at us in the past two months. Not only has the search algorithm had some major updates; many of the Google products are seeing some alterations as well. It has become more important than ever that businesses use Google products to promote, advertise, and interact with customers.

Google Plus and Google Places are two of the main products that need to be utilized to please Google but most people don’t know the difference between the two or even know that both exist. If you don’t do your research or know anything about how Google works, you probably wouldn’t be able to tell if you were on a Google Plus page for a business or a Places page.

I get all kinds of questions about these products and the first thing I always ask is; “Are you talking about Google Places or Google Plus?” and I have not heard a single person know what I am talking about. I guess that’s why people hire us to stay on top of these things.

Here is the low down on what each page looks like, how to set them up properly, and the purpose in having both verified for your business.

Google Places:

Called Google Local on the front end when you are in your Google Plus profile. These are the listings that show up in maps searches as well as the local results in regular blended search results. (Blended search is a term that refers to a search results page that includes local listings, web sites and videos. Sometimes you will see some news in it as well.) This is how Google classifies your business. The phone number and address in the listing must be the same across the web. (website, other listings, etc.) When you use Google’s products it makes it easier for it to see whom you are and what it is that you offer as long as everything is clean.

If you can, you should keep all of your Google products under one Gmail account. I’m talking about analytics, web master tools, places and the business plus page.

When you set up or claim your Google local listing you want to fill out the basics first and then have it verified. Google will send you a card in the mail with a pin number to verify what you have entered. After you have verified the listing, which should take a week or two, fill out the rest of the information. Thankfully, Google has made this process a lot simpler than it was in the past.

Google Plus:

If you have a Gmail account, you have a Google Plus page. This is Google’s way of making us use the Plus social platform. No one likes it, or uses it, but you don’t want to ignore it. Using Google Plus for your business will help in your ranking. First you want to setup the basic elements that show on your personal Plus page. Name, picture and cover image and basic initial info they ask you for is fine. This page can be used for Authorship Markup for your website as well but that’s a story for another day.

Next you want to create a page for you business. This page is almost a mirror of your Local page. When you go to create the page you will click on the drop down menu that you would use to log out of your account. There you will see the option to add a page. When you input the information, you should be able to link the Places page to the Plus page for the business. Once you have created the page, enter as much information as you can and add a profile picture and a cover image. This page will also need to be verified by a pin number that is mailed to you.

The purpose of this page is to show Google that as a business you are open and willing to communicate with your customers. Interaction has become a big part of SEO. You don’t need to post here very often, maybe a few times a week. Just make sure you have a presence.

Hopefully your head hasn’t completely spun off after reading this. Google certainly does not like to make things easy for us. If you have a business, do not ignore either of these Google products and don’t get comfortable because they are very likely to change them. Happy Local Search Optimizing folks!

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