Google+ Local continues to evolve. Announced just a couple of days ago, Google has decided to begin automatically merging a businesses Google+ page with its Google places pages into a single page.
You might be thinking, that’s great but what does this all mean exactly?
Let’s start with a history lesson:
1. Google launched Google Maps over a decade ago. Each business they came across either by crawling the web or from a variety of sources would then have a Google Place page created.
2. In 2011, Google Launched Google+ and at that point, created a unique Google+ page for each local business as well. This meant that a business could have 2 separate pages.
Note: This was very hard to tell the difference between the two, since the Place page looked just like a Google+ page, except that it didn’t have the social features enabled. Here you can see the Follow button. Those without these buttons are regular Google Place pages. There’s an assumption that by being active on Google+, it would ultimately help establish more content and credibility for your business in the eyes of Google.
More importantly, Google was not showing the Verified Business Listing checkmark as well. Therefore, if you were an agency, you didn’t know whether the listing was already claimed or not. This is an important factor when you are doing any listing management/cleanup or Local SEO activities. This is also important for review management since you need to claim your page to be able to respond to customer reviews.
We will send out emails to users whose pages are automatically upgraded letting them know. You can manually merge your pages as well if you don’t want to wait for Google to do so. Google has a widget within the Google Places management dashboard to do so. For more information on how to do this properly, check out Mike Blumenthal’s blog.
Overall, there is a bigger picture in mind. The ultimate goal is to create “…an integrated system where all listing management can occur from within the Places Dashboard and where a business will have the ability to manage the whole system as a branded entity rather than as an individual, an obvious necessity for large businesses as well as small”. While uncertainty still lingers around talks of “…how the bulk upload feature set will be integrated into this picture and how a single brand with many locations will be accommodated so to not need to produce social streams per location”, the merging of the pages should immensely help simplify quite a few issues for the time being. As iterated above, although this step is just another in the process towards the bigger picture, it is a big step in the right direction.
Here's a link to help provide some more clarity around this issue regarding different types of Google pages: Click here!