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?
In the end, it doesn’t really matter which path you choose as the data goes to the same place (the canonical Knowledge Graph local record) and travels along the same, speedy data pipeline. The two are now inextricably linked for better or worse.
However, I think that 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.
Not all small businesses need, want or can maintain a social presence and many don’t have any videos. The basic Places for Dashboard listing may be enough. The upgrade is so easy and fast that it can be done at any time in the future. When you hve upgraded, the listing, like the +Page, can now have multiple managers and be transferred to a different owner.
2) It allows for the listing to be claimed without the need for a Google+ Persona.
In many businesses, particularly larger ones, there is no one person that really represents the business. It is an odd artifact of the G+ environment that you needed a persona to claim a page. That is gradually changing but it is easier to just use the Dashboard and a generic email at the business than to artificially create some persona to claim the business.
3) The interface is vastly superior to that of Plus.
It is cleaner, far easier to understand and a much quicker and easier way to manage multiple businesses.
4) It supports up to 100 business listings versus the 50 for the +Page interface.
This won’t matter for most businesses but it will for some.
I think that the overall design of the Places for Business Dashboard makes the whole process faster, simpler and more understandable. All rare commodities in the world of Google local that you need to take advantage of when you can.
(Question mark image by Michael Coghlan and used via Creative Commons license.)