The Google Service Formerly Known As Places: Clearing Up the Confusion


What the F are we supposed to call it again?

There has been a lot of change in the local landscape ever since Google rolled out Google+ in 2011. From Google Maps, to Google Places, to Google+ Local and Google+ Business Pages it seems near impossible to keep tabs on what exactly local SEO's and small businesses are dealing with when it comes to managing their local presence on Google. It all started with the conversion of roughly 80 million Google Places Pages into 80 million Google+ Local Pages and its all been downhill from there. Small business owners and local search geeks alike have spent days scratching their heads trying to make sense out of it all, but by the end of this post you should be able to look at the various listings in Google's local landscape and know exactly what it is you or your business is working with.

Google+ Local

The initial step to moving Google Places into the Google+ platform, Google+ Local listings are simply the local listings that were formerly Google Places. They are not tied to the social elements associated with Google+ and only feature the "About" and "Photos" tab on the listing along with the ability to "Write a Review." The Google+ Local listing is what is tied to a website in localized queries that include map pins.

Google+ Business Page

The Google+ Business Page is the social facing profile for a business. It is independent of the Google+ Local listing and features predominantly social elements on the page (Follow, Posts, About, Photos, Videos.) This is the page that appears in Google+ when you search for a business unless it has been merged or verified with a Google+ Local listing, which brings us to our next listing type.

Merged Google+ Local Page/Verified Local Google+ Page

When a local business goes through the process of merging a Google+ Local and Google+ Business Page, this is the end result. A merged listing will have all the local benefits of a Google+ Local Page paired with the social elements of a Google+ Business Page. While the merger comes with its headaches, this is probably the ideal listing state for a business who is fully utilizing their social media presence on Google+.

Still confused? That's ok. Sometimes it helps to see it. Thankfully long time Google local expert Linda Buquet allowed me to share with you a graphic that visually breaks down each listing type as they appear in the wild. This originally appeared in her local search community, but is the best visual representation of the differences in Google listings I have seen to date.

Google Local Page Types

The confusion will hopefully die down as Google takes additional strides to force the merger of Google+ Local and Google+ Business Pages, but hopefully this is enough to help you at least identify a Google+ Local listing, a Google+ Business Page, and a merged or verified Google+ Page in the wild.

About the Author: Mike Wilton

Mike Wilton took his love for internet marketing and made it into an obsession. His passion for search engine optimization and social media is only rivaled by his passion for music. Mike is a Southern California SEO specializing in SEO, Local Search Optimization, and Social Media Marketing.

Mike Wilton's Internet Marketing Blog

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