What Kind of Google+ Page Is It? – A Visual Guide to Google+ Local Pages

google-maps-iconWhen Google moved the business Place pages to Google Plus last year, they started to slowly transition their small business dashboards to the new environment as well. Hopefully, soon there will be one consolidated dashboard where a business will be able to give Google their basic business information, add photos, buy Adwords Express/Offers, add videos and upgrade to a social stream if they so desire.

But many business listing are only part way through this transition process. It is even more confusing if you are an agency or small business looking at the businesses Plus page (aka the Places page) from the outside and trying to understand what stage the business is in. Fortunately there are subtle visual cues that indicate where a given business is in this process.

Here is a visual guide that can help you look at a given local business page in Google Plus and understand what state it is in so that you know what you might need to do next.

Unclaimed Google+ Page (previously known as a Places Page)

Screen Shot 2013-08-23 at 2.46.12 PM

Google, in wanting to show every business in the world in there local products will auto-generate a listing from their third party sources. When first brought into Google the page is unclaimed and has not yet been verified by the business. An unclaimed Google+ Page will have only two tabs (About & Photos) at the top of the page and no description below the category and hours. If you claim one of these pages it will take you to the new Google Places for Business Dashboard where you can add extra details and verify it.

Claimed Google+ Page via the old Places for Business Dashboard (previously known as a Places Page)

 

Screen Shot 2013-08-23 at 2.46.30 PM

A page that is currently claimed into the old Places Dashboard looks very similar to the unclaimed page in having only the two tabs at the top. The page is likely to have  photos that have been added by the business owner although Google may have added photos from around the web. Even though the page has been claimed there is no verification badge. The truly distinguishing feature is a (up to) 200 character business description preceded by a ” symbol.

Interestingly listings that have been claimed into the old dashboard can be claimed into a second dashboard by a different account. This was a “feature” of the old dashboard to allow a business that lost the login to reclaim their listings. This capability that will be disappearing with the new dashboard but this type of listing can still be reclaimed. If the account used to claim the listing has a new dashboard then the listing will be claimed into the new dashboard. If the account has an old dashboard then the listing will be claimed into an old dashboard…. still confusing, I know. Don’t blame me.

Claimed Google+ Page via the new Places for Business Dashboard

 Screen Shot 2013-08-23 at 2.46.50 PM

Like with the previous two examples, a listing only claimed into the new dashboard will have but two tabs at the top. There are however two distinguishing features of the page. Firstly, and most importantly, there is a verification check mark next to the name. The description can have as many as 5000 characters so on many businesses claimed into the new dashboard it will be longer than the measly 200 characters allowed in the old dashboard. In theory the description field in the new dashboard supports rich text and hyperlinks. In fact when you edit it, you are allowed to add bolds, underlines and italics.  However that feature has never worked properly and the rich text edits made in the dashboard do not show up on the business’s G+ Page. Google has indicated that this feature will some day work but no one is saying when.

Unlike a listing claimed into the old dashboard, this type of listing can not be reclaimed without the previous owner “removing it” from their dashboard or via assistance by Google.

Note: it is possible to “downgrade” a social local page to look like this by removing the video and social tabs via the G+ Pages management settings interface thus these visual guidelines don’t apply 100% but reflect the most common default layouts.

Verified Google+ Page for local with a Social Stream

Screen Shot 2013-08-23 at 2.47.43 PM

Like the page claimed via the new dashboard this page will have verified checkmark and possibly a longer description.  The page however is distinguished by the fact that there are four tabs at the top and the map in the header is replaced by a header photo. This page type can have been created in a number of ways. The page could have been created via the G+ Page management interface and merged with a non social local listing. A business with the new dashboard and that has a Google+ personal account with the same email might have created it with the one button upgrade option.

Recently, in some accounts with the new dashboard, Google has started to automatically add the social & video feature without the need for the business to have a personal G+ account. This is significant for businesses large and small that want to manage a social presence for the company but do not wish to have to have a G+ personal account to do so. This move seems to portend a time when all dashboards will have ready access to the same features and there will be but a single interface for the business to manage the listing. That time can not come soon enough.

There can also be a an unverified social Google+ Page for local created within the G+ Page management environment by a G+ personal account. Since the page is unverified and not associated with a business listing in the Google local knowledge base it has little value to most businesses. It would look just like the page above but would be missing the verification check mark.

Whenever one talks about Google local there is always the chance to increase confusion and not allay it. Hopefully this visual guide will do the latter for you rather than the former.

28 Responses to “What Kind of Google+ Page Is It? – A Visual Guide to Google+ Local Pages”

  1. Great post Mike. This really clears up some confusion I had when working with listings that switched over to the new dashboard here in Canada.

    One thing I’ll say is that – for some of my Canadian clients, claiming these G+ Listings with the new dashboard does not trigger the verified badge to show up on the actual listings page. The verified badge, however, shows up in the dashboard (when you’re logged in). I believe others can still claim this page unless you upgrade to all the social features. Then, if someone tries to claim that, it will not allow you unless the administrator approves your request.

    So for some business listings that are claimed but don’t have a badge, the only thing that distinguishes them from being an unverified listing is the description (and photo possibly).

  2. Hi Jackson
    Some but not all? Weird. Can you show me the pages?

    On another note, the above images are usually the default layout but there are other possibilities of how they got there. So you should take these guidelines as just that: a guide that covers most situations.

  3. Mike, you only get the shield with the checkmark if you’ve upgraded your page to have social features. It’s certainly a dead giveaway for a page that’s been verified in the new places dashboard, but there are numerous pages out there that have been verified without the shield and checkmark.

    Also, Google sometimes adds a description to the places page based on the “About Us’ section of a website, and thus the presence of a description cannot be used as an indication of verification either.

    In fact, aside from the shield/checkmark the only way to tell if a business has been claimed for sure is to try and claim it yourself and then see which page you’re directed to.

    • Mark

      I agree that Linda has identified a reasonable set of rules..

      However re your comment: Also, Google sometimes adds a description to the places page based on the “About Us’ section of a website, and thus the presence of a description cannot be used as an indication of verification either. those comments are usually notated as originating from Wikipedia or some such are are only on very significant pages and are usually so noted.

  4. Mike, thank you for this!
    I’m relatively new to local search marketing; some things aren’t clear to me and I can only imagine business’s confusion about Google listings for the past couple of years…

    Quick question:
    For claimed (new Dashboard) G+ Page, you said “this type of listing can not be reclaimed without the previous owner “removing it” from their dashboard.”
    Will everything be lost (description, reviews, etc.) if listing is “removed” from previous account and claimed by another account?

  5. Jackson, i believe you are right. Listings in the new dash that neither you or Google upgrade to G+ have no follow button and no check mark.

    Mike your example of new dash for your Laptop test site, I don’t believe is a pure Place page so it is sort of a confusing example. (If it was it would not have a follow button.)

    Since it has the check mark and a Follow button, it’s an upgraded/merged G+ page now. I believe Google upgraded it to G+ (or maybe you tried the one button upgrade).

    Google upgraded my test page automatically, because I never did it.

    But there are a ton of new dash pages out there that are not merged and they don’t have Follow buttons.

    To simplify all this, I boil it down to 2 features. I just tell folks to look for reviews and the red follow button and that will tell the story.

    Listings created in Places (regardless of whether in the old or new dash) that are not merged or upgraded, have reviews – but no follow button.

    G+ pages have follow button, but no reviews.

    Merged/upgraded G+ pages have both reviews and follow button.

    Linda Buquet
    • “Listings created in Places (regardless of whether in the old or new dash) that are not merged or upgraded, have reviews – but no follow button.

      G+ pages have follow button, but no reviews.

      Merged/upgraded G+ pages have both reviews and follow button.”

      Excellent, Linda! This is also how I like to describe things.

  6. Man! I am so glad that I found this discussion! I have been looking for someone to help me understand the relationship between my initial G+ (brand page), and my new G+ (local page).
    Initially I created a brand page because I knew that I wanted to share posts from my site, but I wasn’t really thinking about the business side of things. Then after I woke up abit and learned a few more things, I realized that I wanted a ‘local’ page for my business. I wanted the reviews tab, I wanted my business address posted publicly, and I wanted people to know that I was a real business.

    …but I now I have the problem of having and trying to maintain two different G+ pages for my business. I’m not even sure that Google wants me to have two different pages. Can I get penalized for this?

    According to Linda’s comment above, my local G+ page has been merged & upgraded (my +1s were merged) with my original brand page…however neither my followers or posts were merged!

    How should I proceed from this point? Do I keep both pages, or should I try to rebuild my followers on my local page and just remove the old brand page from my dashboard? …or perhaps vice versa?

    Your advice on my issue(s) here would be greatly appreciated. Thanks again for an informative post, and I look forward to your reply.

    – Matt

    • @Matt

      It is always difficult to provide definitive advice without looking the specific URLS.

      I have been looking for someone to help me understand the relationship between my initial G+ (brand page), and my new G+ (local page).
      If it is a brand page then it can not be merged with your + Page

      Initially I created a brand page because I knew that I wanted to share posts from my site, but I wasn’t really thinking about the business side of things. Then after I woke up abit and learned a few more things, I realized that I wanted a ‘local’ page for my business. I wanted the reviews tab, I wanted my business address posted publicly, and I wanted people to know that I was a real business.

      If you are a single location business then a brand page is redundant and you can do everything you want on a merged G+ Page for local that would allow for reviews, a social stream, videos etc.

      but I now I have the problem of having and trying to maintain two different G+ pages for my business. I’m not even sure that Google wants me to have two different pages. Can I get penalized for this?

      Google will not penalize you and maintaining and promoting these two pages is difficult.

      According to Linda’s comment above, my local G+ page has been merged & upgraded (my +1s were merged) with my original brand page…however neither my followers or posts were merged!
      They must not be merged if there are two pages out there.

      How should I proceed from this point? Do I keep both pages, or should I try to rebuild my followers on my local page and just remove the old brand page from my dashboard? …or perhaps vice versa?

      If you have but a single location then I would in fact delete the brand page and focus on a merged local page for building a following and getting review.

  7. Mike, I’ve been in on G+ pages since the ground level; thank goodness, Reading all of this just confused me. But I’m no techy. I have the shield and check so I guess I’m OK.

  8. Hey Mike,

    Thank you so much for sharing this article. I knew there were three or four different Plus pages out there – but the ques you shows us to look for are spot on and have worked in all the cases I’ve researched. I have a few clients still in the old Places dashboard and it’s down right agonizing. I see you wrote you can reclaim these listings and get them into the new dashboard. Can you clarify that a little more for me? I left one of my clients’ Google+ page in the website field above (Distinctive Painting). We are currently using a Gmail log in to manage his listing in the old dashboard, but want to reclaim and get it into the new dashboard. Any more light you can shed on this process?

    Thanks again for clarifying Google’s mess for the rest of us.

    Chad

    • We are currently using a Gmail log in to manage his listing in the old dashboard, but want to reclaim and get it into the new dashboard. Any more light you can shed on this process?

      I have tested this in an account that already had the new dashboard but it should work with a virgin Google account that does not currently have any dashboard…. but if you go into the new Places and enter the business details it should just let you claim a listing that is in an old dashboard account. It should not be necessary to “delete” it from the old account but you may want to do that anyways to prevent confusion down the road. Before you delete it, be sure to remove “enhanced content” like photos etc so that it doesn’t stay in the cluster and haunt you later.

  9. Thanks for the reply Mike. I am going to try out the virgin gmail account, get it claimed, add the original gmail account as a page manager then delete the virgin account. Do you see any hiccups in this game plan?

  10. @Chad
    This is Google so there are ALWAYS hiccups. :)

    The plan seems reasonable if both email addresses are in fact G+ Users.

  11. I recently merged a clients places listing with a virgin ‘local’ business page. We had to call Google to get it done. He still has the places dashboard. Anyway, we have uncovered a real interesting issue with images.

    In the “Upload Public Photo” section of the “About” tab on the Local Business page, we have two images that were uploaded “From the owner” with a blue head that is not an anchor link. This would not be an issue except that the image in question looks like a grey “do not enter” sign. And as a result, this has become our thumbnail in search, carousel, and the new maps UI. We have tried to upload more images, but this grey sign holds the first position and does not move.

    We cannot delete it, edit it, or find where it came from. We have sent a request to Google to have this removed. Now we wait.

    This brings up a few questions.

    Imagine this scenario. Look at your listing above “Attard’s Restaurant” and notice it does not yet have an image uploaded. It says “upload first public photo”. Also reminding everyone that this page is unclaimed. If someone were to upload a generic “anonymous” image, will this image become the new face of their local search results? Can you see how this can be used maliciously by a business competitor?

    What determines the search result / carousel thumbnail? Seems it should be your Business page avatar and not one just any one of the images from the uploaded images.

  12. Thanks for this explanation Mike. I am still a little confused but not as much as before. I had a places page and then I created a G+ business page which I linked to my website and my personal G+ page. I then claimed my local listing and requested a PIn to verify it. I received the PIN, verified the listing and then – nothing! I don’t have a verifed badge and the blue banner across my business info/edit page on my local listing says something to the effect “.. not all edits are live yet and this process can take some time.” it has been about 3 weeks – what does some time mean?

  13. Good Morning, Mike and everyone. I’m assuming the following has something to do with the G+ changes.

    In my neck of the woods, Google Places (whatever) is all but gone. There’s one listing on Maps that’s a bogus company with an address of a city park and an out-of-state phone number.

    My listing is right below that, but Yelp (with phony reviews by scammers with 2 reviews) has the first two spots below the ad section, efficiently placing me 8th down the list. Useless.

    My G+ page is still in my personal name and I’m thinking about trying to start a Ball Plumbing G+ page. Nothing to lose at this point as the listing is useless.

    I’d be happy to send a screen shot of the search results of “Plumbers Bellingham Wa” to prove I’ve not totally fallen off the edge again.

    I gots to eat something. I’ve spent the last two days putting my computers back together after getting hacked to death all for running a Help Wanted ad stating “No Smokers or Drug Addicts, Please” and now this. I actually miss the yellow pages.

    • @BP
      Google has been having a weird quirk where they were showing a single pinned result for a few days early this week.

      I just searched on “Plumbers Bellingham Wa” and it looked normal again.

      • “Plumbers Bellingham Wa”

        Mike you need to change location to see this problem sometimes. So the bad thing is you and I may not see it from across the country, only the local consumers that are actually searching locally see it and of course they are the ones that matter.

        BP I’ve been posting about it and reported lot of problems to Google. Most of the listings are spam, many are bogus with bad phone numbers and sites that do not even resolve. So just pure bad results.

        Linda Buquet
  14. @Jason
    The weird image is a weird bug. Deleted images SHOULD be removed but apparently not all are done so in a timely fashion. The bug is being seen fairly widely. See this this post.

    Image upload has always been a vector for abuse and there have been past cases where this has happened. Fortunately Google is now taking down inappropriate images quickly.

  15. @Yasser
    As noted in the comments, if a page has not been upgraded to social then it won’t have the badge.

    Usually edits are approved within days. If it has been as long as 3 weeks either the content does not comply with Google’s rules or there is a problem. Contact Google support.

  16. Hello Mike,

    Great what to distinguish between which profile is set up. I was looking at a local profile today and found three different URLs for Google Places pages. I wish I had my laptop near or the post it that I wrote these done on now but I don’t. I believe one was possibly a sub domain, one was google.com/+/… And one was google.com/business….

    That’s just what I can remember of the top of my head but my questionis, have you experienced these and noticed anything with these in relations to the process of google merging all Places to a plus page?

  17. I can’t believe I missed this post. I was going to write something up very similar to this, but this is great!

    Thanks Mike!

    One question for you, as the community is split:

    If you’re starting out with a brand new business, should you ‘create’ a listing in places.google.com or start in the Google+ platform?

  18. Hi Andrew
    In the end it doesn’t really matter in that the data goes to the same place and travels in the same data pipeline. The two are now inextricably linked for better or worse.

    I think that though I would follow Google’s recommendation and create the listing via the new Google Places for Business Dashboard (places.google.com) for the following reasons:

    1)It allows for an very easy 1 button upgrade to social IF you want it. Thus you don’t have to have a posts tab if you are not going to post
    2)It allows for the listing and to be claimed without the need for a Google+ Persona (which can be added if wanted)
    3)The interface is vastly superior to that of +. It is cleaner and easier to manage multiple businesses
    4)It supports up to 100 business listings vs the 50 for the +Page interface

  19. Thanks Mike –

    That’s what I’ve been doing / recommending to my clients as it’s the easiest and safest bet IMO.

  20. thanks mike, i’m confused though about the benefits of the different 2014 types of G+ page, there are places, local and standard pages. They all seem to me to be subtly different for example some allowing phone verification and (places) requiring a postcard verification. Surely if you want to have preferential positioning in searches made by anyone in your target geography then it is best to have a PLACES G+ page? These can all be verified with PUBLISHER status too.

    • @Verity
      There are really only two kinds of Google Plus pages for local: verified/claimed and unverified. Whether a given page allows phone verification is dependent on Google trust in the core data and not in the type of page.

      Whether you verify the page or not it will show in the search results.

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