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Understanding Google Places and Google+ Local

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The Google account for your business is probably a little confusing right now; actually it's just as confusing as what Facebook did to businesses about 2 years ago...

Google is trying to bring all aspects of your business under one umbrella, which of course is Google+. They are going through some very tough growing pains right now.

The terminology they are using is very confusing, but hopefully this list of definitions will help.

Google Maps - This is the large desktop and mobile service that allows people to search their local area for directions, food, and local retail stores.

Google Places - This is the old name for the service that used to feed your business information into Google Maps. Even if you didn't have a Google Places account, your business probably still had a listing thanks to Google's pre-populating of businesses. Instead of setting up a new account you could claim ownership of a pre-populated one.

Google+ - This is Google's social network. It's turning into the glue that's holding all Google's services together.

Google+ Page - This is Google's attempt to allow you to create a business page for your store. You need a personal Google+ account first before you can create a Business Page. You are also allowed to have multiple people manage your Business Page, similar to Facebook Admins.

Google+ Local - Here's where things are getting sticky. Google+ Local and Google Places are the same thing right now. Every "Places" account was upgraded to be a"+Local" account that only appears in Google+. We don't yet have a way to edit the +Local account, so we still have to use the old Google Places login.

Even more confusing is that the pages for your +Local and +Page both look very similar. Until Google figures out a way to merge these 2 accounts together you will actually have to manage both of them because each is important in their own way.

The Google +Local account allows people to leave reviews of your business. As I said above, this is also where Google Maps pulls its data from.

The Google +Page account is your social window to Google users, allows video hangouts, contests, and every post you make through your +Page helps improve your search engine optimization when you also link those posts to your website.

Now for the tricky part: You need to claim your +Local/Places account if you haven't done so already. In the past it was easy to find and claim ownership of your account by doing a simple Google search for your business name. But that might not work anymore because Google may not show you +Local/Places results.

The most reliable method to locate your +Local/Places page is to search for yourself using Google Maps using these steps:

1. On your desktop computer go to http://maps.google.com/ and search for your business name.
2. Click on the lettered balloon next to you business listing on the left side of your screen.
3. Clicking the balloon will pop up a details box for your business. Inside that box click the "more info" link.
4. You should now be viewing your new Google+ Local page. Look on the right margin of the listing for a notice that says "IS THIS YOUR BUSINESS?" and the "Manage this page" button below it. Click that button.
5. Assuming you are already logged into your Google Account you should be brought into the Google Places management system. From here you would have to go through the verification and edit process.

I'm skipping the exact details of claiming your "Google Places" account because Google does a good job of walking you through the steps. They also include several small "Learn More" links so you can understand every required step.

Google will physically mail you a post card to verify your business information. You must be able to receive mail at your business location in order to verify ownership of your Google Places (Google+ Local) account.
AT: 09/04/2012 04:10:26 AM   LINK TO THIS GOLD NUGGET
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