Today I’m going to provide an overview of how to set up your Google+ Local page. Again, this will just be an overview. In a future post I’ll provide step-by-step instructions on how to create a Google+ Local page from scratch.
Setting up your page consists of three basic steps.
Step 1: Create a Google Account
You should create a separate Google account for your Google+ Local page. Don’t use the same account that you use for your AdWords or Gmail. This allows you to keep your business life separate from your personal life.
It also allows you to give others access to your Google+ Local page if necessary without having to worry about someone seeing your personal information via your Gmail account. It’s easy to set up a Google account. Just visit google.com/accounts. Fill out the required information and follow the prompts. You’re done!
Step 2: Make Sure You Have a Physical Address That Can Receive Mail
Google only allows one Google+ Local page per PHYSICAL location – and each location must be a valid mailing address. You cannot use P.O. Box addresses either because Google doesn’t accept them.
You’ll also want to avoid using virtual addresses such as those offered by the UPS. Even if you get away using a virtual address, eventually Google will catch on that the address being used isn’t a real physical address of your business and will shut down your Google+ Local page!
Step 3: Create or Claim Your Google+ Local Page
If your business has been around for a while, chances are good that Google has already created a Google+ Local page for you. It creates a page by obtaining information from your website and other websites on the Internet. If your business is brand new, however, you’ll have to create a new one.
To determine if you have an existing page, go to Google Maps and type in your business name. If one of the search results is your business, a page already exists. In addition, when you go to Google Places to begin the process of creating your page, Google will prompt you for your business telephone number. It will then search to see if a page already exists.
Don’t just rely on the telephone search, however. Be sure to search on Google Maps as well because there may be duplicate pages for your business.
Side Note on Duplicate Pages:
If you find multiple listings of your business, you’ll want to claim only one of them and then contact Google via their troubleshooter to have the others deleted. You want only one listing per physical business location. Having duplicate listings wreaks havoc on your ability to rank well – not to mention it creates confusion for your customers.
If a page already exists for your business, then you need to claim and optimize it. If a page doesn’t exist for your business, then you’ll know you have to create one from scratch.
Whether an existing page exists or you need to create one, you’ll have to prove that you are the actual business owner by going through a verification process. This entails Google sending you a postcard with a PIN.
Once you get the postcard, you log into your Google+ Local dashboard and enter the PIN. This process is called “claiming.” You “claim” your page by going through the verification process. Once a page is claimed, no one else can claim it and you have full ownership and control of it.
In a future post I’ll walk you through how to properly build and optimize a Google+ Local (a.k.a. Google Places) page from scratch.