Dear Google, All I wanted for Christmas was my Google Plus Local Page…

By Whitney Blessington | February 17th, 2013

Social Media

… To have the correct information on it, and more importantly – show that info in the search results. And after working and fighting for nearly a month, I finally made it happen. It was no easy task, however. As a social media and SEO consultant though, it was worth it. I’d like to just walk you through both the process and the importance of verifying your company’s Google Plus Local business page.
First, it’s important to start with some background. Google has basically eliminated the old Google Places and replaced all of the old listings with new Google Plus Local business pages.

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This is part of a concerted effort to simply make Google Plus work. Employees bonuses are being tied to this at Google, and you can see firsthand for yourself just how much they’re pushing both Google+ page links and the ability to “write reviews” in the organic search results.

This alone makes it worth the effort to verify your local business page.

Why? Well, the saga our business just went through will likely help you understand the importance. And if not, then definitely the new “Google Plus Reviews” should.

1. Wrong business information listed. Because these pages are being pulled from old Google Places listings, chances are there is one out there for your business already and you didn’t create it. Google your business name to find out what comes up, and click the Google+ link near the top of the search results. Everything okay? Well, for us. It wasn’t. We had moved, and technically, the name of our business had changed. The wrong address was showing up in the top of the search results, which was a huge problem for us (and for any other business, I might imagine).

Cabedge.com old LLC name2

When clicking on the Google+ link above, visitors would be taken to this page…

Old unverified page2

We can only assume this page was getting a ton of traffic, as we started to receive mail at the wrong address, and even clients would try stopping by this old, old location.

Client having trouble finding places

This would obviously make us look very badly in front of our clients, when we had already been in another location for more than a year. Unfortunately the process for rectifying this was not as easy as you might think. To make matters a little more complicated, our sister company, Atiba Software, LLC had also moved locations, and had an old, unverified page loading for their search results as well.

In order to remove the old information and replace it with the new, you have to work through multiple steps.

1. You have to prove ownership of your business in two places. First, the old Google Places. Go to Google Places, and request a PIN code be mailed to you on a post card at your business address.

Old Google Places

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This may not seem important, but Google needs to know that you’re the owner via both Places and Google Plus.

2. Start a new Google Plus Local Page via Google Plus, and edit your company’s information so that everything is correct. Make sure you start the page as a Local Business or Place (See below).

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Verify Cabedge Google Plus Local Page

3. Then, go to the Google+ page that is unverified and showing in the search results. Click “manage this page” under Is this your business in the bottom right hand corner of the page.

Old unverified page

You’ll then request a postcard through Google Plus and be sent a verification code, which you’ll enter later on the page once you receive it. Once the page has been verified (below), you’ll be able to update the information, and shortly thereafter, you’ll start to see the correct page in the search results. Essentially, the old Google+ unverified page goes away, and gets replaced with the new one you created and verified.

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Seems simple, doesn’t it? Well, there may be a few speedbumps along the way. What expedited the process was actually going and telling Google what was wrong with the page by clicking “Report a Problem.”

Google Cabedge Submission

Atiba Software and Consulting Wrong Page Submission

While in “limbo,” Google actually showed both pages in the search results. The new one that I had created, as well as the old one – both unverified.

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So, finally! We have the real pages showing up in the search results for both Cabedge and Atiba. Along the way, we participated in Google help forums, webinars and even called Google. Yes, you can call Google now. Point being, it’s important to take a little more control over your Google presence, especially when there are folks out there writing reviews (good, bad or ugly) about your business on these pages. You can’t really fully control them, but if you follow the steps outlined above, you can have a handle on making sure your business is represented properly and has a first hand look at what people are saying about you.

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Success on the Atiba side as well…

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2. Google Reviews. They’re biggest, baddest and here to stay baby. If you ignore the reviews, you’re just turning a blind eye to what people are saying about your business. Over the next 12 months, the words “Write A Review” will be more prevalent than “Like,” “Follow,” or “Plus 1” … Google+ is now Facebook, Twitter, GoToMeeting and Yelp! all in one, and this is the Yelp! part we’re talking about.

Google any local business now and see reviews shoved in your face. These are real reviews from actual Google Plus users. Whether or not your page is verified, the reviews are there. It’s best if you can get involved and find a way to funnel positive reviews to your page, as well as respond to negative ones to try and turn complainers into advocates.

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There are a lot of other topics to hit on when it comes to Google Plus. Google Authorship being one of them, and we’ve only tipped the iceberg when it comes to hitting on the importance of the Google Reviews. So, there will be more to come on Google Plus, as it isn’t going away, and it keeps changing and evolving behind the scenes.

It will be an important part of Organic Search, and positioning your business for success – possibly more so than Twitter and Facebook, and as you can see now we’re speaking based on experience – but we’re not the only ones all in on Google Plus.

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