The question of how to handle the existence of two (or more) G+ Pages for a given local business has become a frequent one. Over the past month, I have gotten 1-2 queries a week asking what should be done. For example, I recently received this email:
Ran into an issue with Google Places and Google+, curious if you know of any solutions. One of my clients set up a Google+ page. But since Google Places automatically created Google+ pages, I now have two Google+ accounts for one company. All three are under the same gmail email address. The page my client created is more developed than the one Google Places created. Do you know if there is a solution for this that you know of?
This has mostly resulted from location-based businesses having created a Google+ Page for a company or brand (as opposed to a Page for Local), perhaps when G+ was in its infancy. They then realized that they also have a G+ Page for local that was either auto created by Google or created in the old Places Dashboard that has now shown up in their Plus environment. I typically get one of several questions:
- How do I merge these two pages?
- Can I keep my Google+ Page for Business and delete the one that Google has auto-created?
- Should I keep more than one?
- What is the best path forward?
The answer to each is pretty much the same. Some givens of the Google Plus page environment:
- Google will automatically create a G+ Page for local for any business that has a bricks and mortar presence, as well as for individual doctors, lawyers and real estate agents at those locations.
- Typically there is no way to suppress or delete this G+ Page for local.
- It is not possible to merge two G+ Pages (unless they are both of the type: local and for the same business at the same address, in which case you should contact support). Nor is it possible to pass followers from one page to another.
- Google is much, much more likely to show a G+ Page for local in the search results than a company/brand page for a given local business.
- A business can have as many other G+ Page types as they desire for their brand, events or the parent company.
As to the best path going forward, it is really a matter of matching the above reality with your marketing goals, objectives and budget.
The G+ Page for local is going to exist no matter what and the real question becomes which of your pages will get the most exposure, which best fits the company's marketing goals and where should the company put their efforts going forward.
Here are the possibilities. The company can:
- Delete the G+ Page for business and repost the old content to the G+ Page for local. This has the benefit of only having one page going forward, and your work will be on the page most likely to show on the main Google search results.
- Keep both pages and post actively to both. If your company has both a national and local presence this makes sense, but is much more work.
- Keep both pages but only post actively to the local page. You would need to put a last post on the business page asking that folks follow their local page. This has the benefit of being relatively easy, and if the G+ Page for Business were ever to be important in Google’s scheme of things you wouldn’t have to start over.
- Keep both pages. Make the primary post to the local page and repost it the company page. This is more work and it is not clear that there is any benefit to this.
- Keep both pages and make the primary post to the company page and put a one-time post on the local page sending folks to the company page. This only makes sense if your brand is a national brand and local is not a big part of your strategy.
To make the decision as to which course to follow you really need to answer the following questions:
- What is the goal of your social presence and who is the target audience?
- Is the company national in scope or do most of its customers come from the immediate region?
If your clientele is mostly local or regional I would:
- Delete the G+ Page for business and repost old content to the G+ Page for local, or
- Keep both pages but only post actively to the local page and put a last post on the business page asking that folks follow their local page
If the company is mostly national in nature, I would typically recommend to add a decent cover photo to the G+ Page for local and make at least one post there referring to the G+ Page for business. The posts page tab on the G+ Page for local is the link that Google shows in local search results in the main SERPS. Thus it might get some visibility and shouldn't be left completely empty.
Unfortunately, because of Google's slooow merger of Places and Plus, there has been a great deal of confusion created in the marketplace. The lack of tools and mechanisms to convert one type of page to another has only added to that confusion. However, if you have a local business then you are going to have a G+ Page for local and that likely should be at the center of your marketing plan.