Anyone who does search engine marketing for local businesses will tell you that Google+ has gone through growing pains as it absorbs the features previously found in Google Places for Business. Most of the old dashboards have now been switched over to Google+, but this presented many business owners and marketers with a new dilemma: they now had a Google+ Business page that they had put a lot of effort into building a following and posting content on, but they also had a brand-new Google+ Local page.
The Business page was where all of their content and followers were, but the Local page was where their verified address and reviews were. The Local page was also where many people searching from Google Maps or on mobile would land, yet it had none of the content that the business had created to show the value of their services.
Those who could contact Google about the issue were told that there was nothing that could be done. As a business, you had to decide whether it was worth duplicating your efforts to build a following on both pages, or whether you should essentially abandon one of the pages and direct visitors to your “real” page.
However, Google has now given us a solution. You can now connect your Google+ Business page to your Google+ Maps listing, thereby merging your Google+ Local page with it.
Before you begin, you need to have a Google+ Business Page and a verified Local page. You can follow these steps to create and verify your Local page if you do not already have one. You will also need to be the Owner of both the Business page and Local page.
Before you actually merge the two pages, make sure you understand the changes that will take place. According to Google:
The page that’s newly connected to Maps will:
- Display the name and verification badge from the former local page.
- Display the business information (hours, phone number, etc.) and reviews from the former local page.
- No longer display prior owner responses to local reviews. Your existing reviews may take a few hours to show up after connecting the page.
- Retain your page's followers, posts, and managers.
- Retain the custom URL (if you’ve set one up).
- Possibly remove ad campaigns associated with the page.
The former Local page will:
- No longer display on Google Maps
- No longer display local business information or reviews
- Be renamed to "Backup of <page name>"
- Still be visible on Google+
- Retain followers, posts, and managers from the former local page
- Retain the custom URL from the former local page (if you’ve set one up)
- No longer display AdWords Express campaigns associated with the page
Once you are ready to merge your pages, follow these directions:
- Log in to Google+, open the drop-down navigation ribbon on the left-hand side, and select Pages. Find your Local page, which will have a “Verified Local Business” shield, and click Manage this page.
- Click Dashboard in the upper left-hand corner to open the drop-down menu, and then click Settings.
- Scroll down to the “Profile” section, near the bottom. There is a line that says: “This page is connected to Google Maps.” There is a button beneath that line that says Connect to a different page. Click it. (Note: if you are the Manager but not the Owner of your Local page, you will not see this button.)
- A dialogue box pops up that says [your location] is currently linked to [your local page]. There is a drop-down menu to select which page you want it to be linked to. Select your business page. (Note: if you are the Manager but not the Owner of your Business page, it will not show up in the drop-down list.)
- Click Next. You will see the list of changes (included above) that will occur on your pages.
That’s it! You will still have the two pages in your dashboard, but the “Backup of [business name]“ page can now be deleted.
Here is what the SEO.com Business page looks like after merging it with our Local page. Notice that it includes all of our followers, contact information, reviews, and links to all of our posts and photos.
There is still one caveat. According to a Google employee, “You can only connect a plus page to a single location on maps, so a page representing a brand can't be connected to multiple locations at this time.” So businesses with multiple locations are still somewhat left out in the rain. However, it does sound like Google is planning on allowing users to connect one Business page to multiple Maps locations at some point in the future. Let us hope we do not have to wait very long.