Many Google+ Local pages can now be merged with Google+ business pages. Google started rolling this out in early August, and an employee of Google wrote in the forums that the result will be that “Your business’ presence across Google Search, Google Maps, and Google+ will be unified.”
For the uninitiated, Google+ Local pages work a lot like Yelp!, where users can log in to review and rate businesses. Google+ Pages work more like Facebook pages, where the business itself would post updates and had access to a social network of fans.
When you merge your business page with your Google+ Local page, what the business posts is under the “Posts” tab and the “About” tab features the reviews the business has received. Essentially, it is bringing the social aspect of your business page with the review and rating system of the local pages. Check out The Meatball Shop for an example of a merged account.
How to Merge Google+ Business and Local Pages
If you went through the process of verifying your Google+ business page, you still need to verify the Local page. To start this process, go to your Google+ Local page and click on the “Manage this page” button in the right-hand column. Google will then send you a postcard in the mail (the snail variety) with a PIN to verify you are the actual owner of the listed business. After that hurdle is jumped, you will receive instructions to merge your pages.
There are currently some formatting issues when the merge occurs, including the “From the owner” section and the removal of owner responses (though you can repost those responses if you like). Some errors can occur during verification as well, but these issues are being addressed.
Who Can’t Merge Pages
Not every business page will be able to merge with the Local page. Your business page must be under the “local business/place” category to do so. However, if you only have a Google+ Local page, you cannot at this time access the social features — that will come later. You also cannot have a merged Local page if you are a business with a hidden/private address. Only one address can be associated with each Local page, and it is unclear if including multiple locations will be a future feature.
Google+ and SEO
Google+ may not be your own personal choice for social networking, but it should be near the top of your list for your business (right after Facebook and Twitter). Boasting about 400 million users with about 100 million active users monthly, it’s difficult to tell what the future holds for this networking site.
According to a recent survey by SEO software provider SEOmoz, only about 55% of international online marketers cited Google Plus as one of the top five most-used social media networks. With only about one-quarter of the total users being active on a monthly basis, it’s not surprising. However, Google+ does have SEO weight, and that is why many businesses keep their Google+ page updated.
How much SEO weight? It’s tough to say. Some consider the SEO-hype around Google+ to be just that — hype. That may be true, but Google is a major player in terms of email and other services so I wouldn’t discount their social network yet. If you currently post regularly on your Facebook business page, it is simple to create a Google+ page and just post the same content in both places. That way the content meets your level of quality and you won’t be struggling to maintain another social media account with separate content