Feeling confused about Google Plus, Google Local, Google My Business, and whatever else might be out there under the Google brand name? You are not alone. As Google changes the names of their products, it is hard to keep up. I’ll explain the differences and how to use them, but the primary goal of having your business found online has remained the same, regardless of the product name.
Google Places: Listings on Google Places appeared on Google Maps and Google Search like they do now do with Google My Business. People who had a Google Places account were automatically upgraded to Google My Business last year. Google Places was essentially a platform for managing business listings.
Google+ Local: This was previously known as Google Places and used by businesses to manage their online listings as well. It merely added the social features on top of the physical location. The “+” indicates the social features which is what people now refer to as Google+ and is how you can share information with followers.
At this point, just know that Google Places and Google+ Local functionality now operate as Google My Business.
Google My Business (GMB): The short version is to no longer think in terms of Google Places or Google Local since Google My Business launched in the middle of 2014 as an umbrella for those features. With Google My Business, owners can claim or create their listing online which will enable them to show up in Google Search and Google Maps. This is also tied to Google Plus, used for personal and business pages, which is described below. The purpose of Google My Business is to provide one interface for managing multiple Google features.
Google Plus (+): This is where you can post updates (similar to Facebook), respond to reviews, and see how many people have viewed your Google+ page. (You can also do this directly from the Google My Business dashboard). Think of Google+ as Google’s social media platform.
Your Google+ page is created automatically when you create a Google My Business page. Once you have your Google+ page set up, make sure you claim a custom URL. This will make it much easier for people to find you than using the group of characters that it defaults to. If you had a Google+ page before you did your verification to be listed on Google maps, you can follow this support file to connect the two pages.
Ideally, you should post content on Google+ regularly to keep it fresh. And I already know what you’re thinking? “I do not have time to manage yet another social media channel.” I feel your pain. The reason you may want to consider it though is because Google+ posts may appear in search results on Google.com. This can definitely give you an advantage if your competitors are not active Google+ users.
To further confuse you, there are different types of pages:
- Individual pages: This is very similar to your personal Facebook profile. You can post updates as an individual user and is required for having a business presence on Google Plus.
- Brand page: Is your business primarily online or do you work from home? If that’s the case, you can set up a Google+ Business page once you have your individual page. This will not show up on Google Maps.
- Storefront or Service Area pages: If you have a storefront, you can create a page that will give you a listing on Google Maps. Service area businesses that have a physical location with employees primarily serving customers elsewhere, such as a taxi service, would want to select the Service Area option. If you check the box that says, “I deliver goods and services to my customer at their location”, you are a Service Area business.
Still a little unclear? The best place to start is by visiting gybo.com, which is Google’s campaign to “Get Your Business Online”. Here you can see if your business shows up on Google maps, update it as needed, or create a new listing. After you do this, you’ll receive a postcard in the mail with a verification code to confirm your listing. While you are waiting for the verification, you can still set up some basic information for your Google My Business presence. Whether you choose to post regularly is up to you, but at the very least, make sure your general online listing is accurate.