Google Maps and Google Places and Google Plus… Oh My!

I think we can all release a collective sigh of relief over the news that Google Plus will no longer be required for maintaining a local business listing.

However, with Google’s recent announcement of a rebrand and shift away from Google Plus, many brands are left wondering, “what now?” If you’re struggling to keep up with all of the ever-evolving Google platforms and best practices, you’re not alone. Here are some answers to questions that we’ve heard frequently, in case they are helpful to you, too…

Can’t I Just List My Local Business on Google Maps?

Whether you put it there or not, your local business is probably already listed on Google Maps. But is that enough?

Go to google.com/maps, type in your business name and see what comes up. Go on, I’ll wait… Now that you’ve found your local business Google map listing, what do you see? Is the name, address and phone (NAP) information accurate? Is there a photo of your storefront included? Are there online user reviews for your business? That’s a good start.

Now, I can already hear that next question forming in your head…

So Do We Really Have to Play in Google Plus, Too?

Remember Google Places? The platform on which you used to be able to claim your business and manage its information for Google Search and Google Map listings?

Google Plus steamrolled that when it made its appearance back in 2011 in an effort to rival Facebook. Although Google Plus never reached the same level of engagement as Facebook, it did gain some traction as the new tool to manage local business NAP info in Google and then later on to integrate a YouTube presence, too.

As local businesses dipped their toes in the Google Plus waters, debates arose around its relevance in search engine optimization.

With low adoption rates though, it’s no surprise to see Google hitting the game reset button. Google Plus may not be going away, but it will now be targeted toward those seeking an interest-based social experience; a place to share news and comments about niche topics, like electric cars and outer space. Google Plus posts will appear in Google Streams, and some well-liked functionality will be spun off into other Google products, like Google Hangouts and Google Photos.

Has yet another shift in Google land left you feeling even more confused about where you should be allocating your limited time and energy?

Google My Business LogoEnter Google My Business

Google claims that Google My Business is the one-stop-shop for all things local business — allowing you to better manage your local presence and reach customers across Google Plus, Search and Maps, as well as manage online user reviews.

Google My Business Overview

If you have used Google Plus or Google Places in the past to claim your business, Google has automatically migrated your account to the Google My Business dashboard.

Wondering how it works? Visit google.com/business to get started and follow these key steps to optimize your presence:

  • Add or claim your business, then verify ownership for a local business page
  • Update and maintain your local business information
  • Add a profile image
  • Add additional details using keyword phrases for products/services
  • Assign relevant categories for your business
  • Link your Google accounts (e.g., Analytics, AdWords, Search Console, etc.)
  • Encourage your customers to review your business on Google – and engage with those who participate

 

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