Local Search

Where Should a New Business Create a Listing: Google+ Page or Google Places for Business Dashboard?

By September 20, 2013 44 Comments

question-markAndrew Forster of of Adster Creative recently asked this great question:

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.)

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  • Max Minzer says:

    I’m wondering if Google in the future will leave these 2 options – Local G+ or Places (once old/new Dashboards are all unified/upgraded in Places) or have everyone use G+ pages/listings with social aspects…

  • Mike Blumenthal says:

    No one can predict the future and Google least of all. They are very flexible and change their plans frequently.

    But the general trend has been to automatically provide more of the features of + from within the Dashboard. From their POV I am not sure that they view the results much differently. A Page is a Page it is just a matter of whether it has social or not but otherwise they are the same.

  • Steven says:

    I have a brick and mortar business with a Places listing. If I upgrade the dashboard, will all my videos, photos and reviews be preserved? Thanks

    • Mike Blumenthal says:

      I assume that you have the “old” Places dashboard? Google is recommending that if that is the case that you wait until they upgrade it before you upgrade to the G+ Page’s social capability.

      The reason is that the process of claiming you G+ Page for local can cause listing issues if you data isn’t super clean.

      If you decide to upgrade/merge your listing because you really want the social features your review should stay with your listing. Video is NOT working in the old dashboard.

      Your old photos will stay but they can only continued to be managed from the old dashboard. Creating a + Page this way doesn’t deactivate your old dashboard. If you have the new dashboard this advice is totally irrelevant.

      • Steven says:

        Thanks Mike. Here’s another G+ question: My YouTube channel forced me to log on with a G+ account. I didn’t want to log on with my personal G+ account so I created a G+ for my business. Is there any danger in that business G+ account replacing my present Places listing? Again I don’t want to lose my reviews or photos. In the G+ listing it gives the option of having the listing indexed and whether or not to have reviews. Should I check these? Thanks!

        • Is there any danger in that business G+ account replacing my present Places listing?

          If you created a G+ Page for local AND you have verified it via postcard or phone, it will merge with your business listing.

          Otherwise (if it isn’t a Page for local or hasn’t been verified) then it will just sit there as a Page in G+ and not interact with your business listing in any way.

  • I like the new changes and dashboard but am really frustrated with how Google has branded everything. Google Plus Local, Google Places, Google + Pages and Google Plus are all intertwined to a degree which makes it impossible to have a detailed conversation with a client about which ones we will be working on for their local presence. They think they have a Google + Page but really it’s a Google Plus personal account. As big as Google is and they mess up the branding of something like this is really hard to believe.

  • Great post Mike – thanks for doing a write up!

  • @Andrew
    You get credit or it to…. it was a great question.

  • It can create confusion for small business , who are managing their listing by themselves. @Mike You have done good job to explain simple way to everyone.

  • Kaleh Kohler says:

    I would like to clarify one thing about the following statement regarding whether one should start through Places or 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._

    If one starts on the Google+ Platform, Google provides several different “categories/types” of pages to create. They must select “Local business or place” in order to be able to verify and merge that Google+ Page with a Places listing. Many users are inadvertently selecting “Product or Brand” or “Company, Institution or Organization” and are disappointed, later, to find that they can’t merge those types of pages with the Places listings.

    • Mike Blumenthal says:


      Great point. I am view the world from the business listing POV and neglect the bigger Plus Picture.

    • vino says:

      Hi kaleh,

      That’s exactly the issue in my case. Is there a way out of this.

      • Mike Blumenthal says:

        If you have chosen a Page type other than Local and what you want/need is a Local page then your only option is to delete the (Brand/Community/Event) Page and start over.

  • Hi Mike & co.,

    I’m wondering if anyone else has run into this issue which I encountered on two unrelated Places / G+ accounts:

    After Google upgraded my Places for Business dashboard, I clicked the “Google+ page” link which was visible for businesses which had been verified some time back (under the Places regime) and was confronted with two pages for the same business, in both cases with “Manage this page’ buttons:


    The first of these pages shows social features (“5 Followers”) while the second, which is verified (with checkbox badge) shows 0 followers.

    If I click through the first one, verification is incomplete, while the second is verified.

    This is sortof the opposite of what I would expect: ideally the verified listing should take precedence as the new Google+ Local Business page. Actually, ideally there should only be one page.

    I made the mistake of removing the unverified page from a different account, and now when I click on the Google+ link from within the Places for Business dashboard, I’m sent into a cul-de-sac in which I’m prompted to “Create a Google+ page”, then after I choose to create a new Local Business page, I’m sent to search for a business to claim in Maps, and when I attempt to (re)claim my verified business I get an error that “this business is already in your account”. Doh. Seemingly no way around this one.

    I’m trying to get a POV on Places / G+ out to a client and now I’m not sure whether this double listing is a problem that some (most? all?) people who have been upgraded to the new Places dashboard are going to see, and if so whether there is a workaround or is it another case of “just wait for Google to fix / upgrade it”?

    Thanks in advance for any feedback.


  • A quick addendum: from the “This business is already in your account” message, I am able to nevertheless click the “Edit information” button and I’m taken to the new Places editor, which tells me my profile is complete.

    However, after clicking the “Done editing” button, there’s still no Local Business page in my G+ dashboard.

  • Josh Simpson says:

    So I just got off the phone with a Google local support rep, and he told me that the first (unverified) of the two pages in my (boss’s) G+ account is actually a “personal profile” page automagically created at the time of the Places dashboard upgrade, while the second (verified) page is the Local Business page created from our Places listing.

    “Personal profile page?” How is that even a thing? That’s not a page type, and your account info already constitutes your public profile on a personal G+ account, no?

    These are the questions I asked dude, and his response was that I could just ignore this personal profile page, or even delete it, without it affecting the G+ Local Business page because it was unrelated to that page, or the original Places listing, etc. He also led me to believe that this was a feature, not a bug, and that it was a standard byproduct of the Places dashboard upgrade.

    Frankly I’m not sure whether to believe this – in part of in full – or not.

    I will say that I posted test posts under both pages and the second, verified “real” local business page post did show up on the public local business page (the one accessed by doing a Maps search as a different user and clicking through “More info”).

    As I mentioned in a previous comment, when I deleted the unverified business page from my personal G+ account (what Google guy called the “personal profile page”), I now have no pages in G+, and I can’t seem to create a new one from my verified Places listing.

  • Mike Blumenthal says:

    Without looking at the pages in more detail to see what is what, it is difficult to tell. I do not have much experience yet with the autocreated social page upon creating a new listing. But if what the tech said was correct and it was a “personal profile page” then it would need be created via the G+ account NOT via the Dashboard.

  • Josh Simpson says:

    Thanks Mike.

    There are some known & unknown / potential complications here that make drawing any conclusions difficult if not impossible.

    For example, I don’t know with certainty whether I or someone else intervened either via Places or G+ to inadvertently create one or both of the G+ pages, though I still feel that it’s likely that these pages were created automatically during or after the Places dashboard upgrade.

    Also, I just noticed that the email associated with the Places listing (info@leadqual.com) is not the same as the one the personal G+ account uses (andrew@leadqual.com).

    This latter point leads me to speculate that the so-called “personal profile” page may be an artifact of Google’s design to allow non-G+ users to upgrade Places listings to G+ local w/ social features pages.

    For what it’s worth, here are the two pages:


    This is what the tech called the “personal profile page” … it’s unverified and does not appear on the public page for LeadQual found when clicking through our pinned Map listing


    The verified Places listing upgraded to a G+ local business page. When drilling down through Maps, this is the LeadQual business page that the public sees.

    Oddly enough, just in the past hour or so there’s been a change in the behavior of the Google+ link in our Places listing – before it would direct us to the G+ Pages screen displaying the two G+ pages (seen in the screenshot in my original post), but now it is linking directly to the verified G+ page (the latter, above).

    I still see the two pages however when navigating to the G+ Pages screen.

    As far as your contention that the “personal profile page” was created within G+ – yes, that’s possible, but I don’t recall doing that and chances are slim that anyone else did either. Moreover the fact that there is no such thing as a “personal profile” page type makes me suspect it was auto-generated, but I can’t prove that.

    Unfortunately I’m having no luck finding anyone I know with a “virginal” verified Places listing that I can log into to try to replicate some of this stuff.

  • Mike Blumenthal says:

    There is no harm in deleting the odd page whether it was auto-created or created by a user in that account. Or you can leave it and ignore it. Given that it isn’t verified and that it has no content it will not surface to most users ever.

    This page: https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/106164718503196802591 is your local page and as you have determined is what now represents the business in both search and social.

  • Josh Simpson says:

    Thanks again Mike.

    I’m not sure if this superfluous page is something that many are seeing, but I will mention to my clients that if they do see it, they ought to just ignore it.

    I worry that deleting it could have unintended consequences as I believe that is exactly what I did in a different account and I now have 0 local business pages and cannot create a new one off my claimed listing (though it’s possible that it was a different sequence of events that lead to that situation).

    I include that as a heads up to others that might find themselves in the same boat.

  • Lee Bagley says:

    Is this the reason why some of my business pages link to Google+ and others links to the URL i have asked the listing to link to? I thought that Places for Business and Google+ local was the same thing?

  • As of yesterday (November 20th) 90% of our Canadian clients have been merged into the new dashboard. I can confirm this, because if I log in to their places dashboard (places.google.com) with the clients credentials, I’m taking to the new Google+ back end.

    Similarly, clients who have multiple locations seem to be the ones who haven’t been merged yet… we’re getting close my friends, very close 🙂

  • Rosanna says:

    OK. I am well and truly confused! I have the following:

    A google plus personal profile which I have linked to my site for authorship of posts

    A google plus business page which I created in August and which has the ability to do
    posts, photos, videos, reviews. This is also linked to my website at the moment, for authorship and for people to follow me.

    Then, in November, I created a Google for business listing which resulted in the creation of a 2nd business page which has the same name as my first page (but didn’t carry over the posts etc from the first); This one is merged with my business listing and has my business opening hours on it. It also has the ability to do posts, photos, videos and reviews. Although it doesn’t have the ‘story’ section in ‘about’. I have one customer review on this site.

    I have talked to Google local help endlessly but am no clearer. I now have 3 different profiles (1 x personal, and 2 x business) and not sure that I really need to have all 3.

    Is there any difference between a normal google plus business page and the google plus business page that google created when I opened google for business? (is this google plus local?)

    Should I delete my original google plus page which has all of 10 followers and link my site to the 2nd business plus page created by google?


    • Mike Blumenthal says:


      Is your business primarily local in reach? When I say local I mean do most of your customers find you through local referrals and networking?

      Do you have aspirations and/or a reality if a broader presence?

      And finally is your company the brand or are you the brand?

  • Rosanna says:

    Hi Mike
    1. Most of my customers are word of mouth, yes. Mostly within 150 miles.
    2. Yes, I think a broader presence is good. Would like to be high up in the google rankings and trying to take advantage of all the tools available.
    3. Hmm – Good question re brand. Not sure I know the answer! Got me thinking there!

    I obviously need to keep my google personal profile. I have slightly depersonalised my personal profile so that it is more art related than family. And I am very happy to have 1 business page (as with facebook) which I update with examples of new work. I guess I’m just not sure whether I need 2 business pages and whether they do completely different jobs. Google not being enormously helpful here.

    any advice most welcome!

    • Mike Blumenthal says:

      The Google + Page for local is much, much more likely to show in the main search results on the front page of Google than your Google+ Page for business. As such it is probably the more valuable of the two pages and the more likely to attract the attention of folks that you don’t already know or that are not yet following you. Given that they both can show posts, photos and videos that makes the +Local page the one where you should focus your efforts from a current business point of view.

      Since reviews can be left on your G+ Page for local its a great place to send your customers that are google savvy to both leave you a review and to hopefully follow you. The benefit of them following your +Page for local or leaving you a review is that their friends are thus more likely to see your + Page for local in their personalized results.

      You are no longer required to maintain a personal page to have either a business page or a local page. So the next question to ask is whether you are best branding yourself or your business on G+ as you attempt to expand your market to a broader audience. I would tend to lean towards your persona being the preferred option as it is more likely to be trusted by other G+ users in G+ communities and when you comment.

      Also with your personal profile you have the option of adding authorship to your writings at your blog or around the web which has the potential of adding your profile photo to search results.

      None of this is written in stone but given what you have said I think I would focus on the G+ Page for local for reaching new customers in market and develop your personal brand using your personal profile and forgo the G+ page for business for expanding your reach.

  • Rosanna says:

    Very good advice, Mike. Think that makes good sense and was pretty much what I was thinking, but I was getting truly tangled and the more I talked to google the more confused I got (probably getting my terminology wrong)

    1. keep personal profile to add authorship which I had already done
    2. point to google local page from my website rather than google plus page
    3. when all this is working fine, eventually delete my google plus page.

    Thank you so much for taking the time to explain it to me.

  • Rosanna says:

    One other question, Mike. (inches away!)

    On my original plus page there is the ability to follow (massive following of 10!)

    on the local page there doesn’t seem to be, or on my personal profile – just the ability to add to circles.

    Is this important?

    • Mike Blumenthal says:


      You are viewing your profiles and page as the manager so you are not seeing the follow button. But they both have follow buttons visible to the public.

  • Rosanna says:

    Thanks Mike.
    You have been unbelievably helpful and I can’t tell you how grateful I am to you for clearing the Google mist.
    Happy New Year

  • Rosanna says:

    Have switched the link from my site to my ‘local’ page and have changed the link on the SEO plugin and Google Authorsure plugin.

    I have removed my old page from google .com apis, replaced it with my local one and verified it. But, whereas before my personal profile showed up in all posts for rich snippets testing, and my (old) page showed up for the home page and all other main pages, now my personal profile is showing up for posts and pages.

    Have I done something wrong or missed something? Or am I just being impatient?

  • Rosanna says:

    Not sure I understand either!

    Previous to changing my plus page to local i had the following

    Authorship for my posts which is linked to my personal profile. Just as it should. When tested with Google Rich Snippets testing tool, this profile pic showed.

    Publishership (is there such a word?) should be linked to the homepage and main site pages. When tested with rich snippets tool this showed the picture from my plus page (as it should)

    Today, having changed my google plus page to the ‘local’ page, when I test the homepage and main site pages with snippets tool it shows the picture from my personal profile rather than from the ‘local’ page.

    Not sure if this is something that will change over time or whether it matters. I’m just trying to make sure I have done everything right.

    Very confusing!

  • Rosanna says:

    Another area of confusion for an addled blonde brain…

    Should I have follow my personal profile google plus on the bottom of my posts with a mugshot
    follow my business page with that mugshot?
    or have personal profile mug shot and just business page ‘badge’

    If you have a moment to see both on http://www.rchittenden.co.uk/corporate-portrait-john-davy/

    I don’t want to have overkill as I suspect my target market aren’t that computer savvy and it may confuse (as it has me!), but I obviously want to maximise my coverage.

    At the moment my Google plus personal profile comes up on the top of Page 2 when I search my name. But neither my Google plus local page (or old business page) come up at all, anywhere. Even 10 pages in. Is this normal?

    Aggggghhhhh! I think I am over-googled

    • Mike Blumenthal says:

      Should I have follow my personal profile google plus on the bottom of my posts with a mugshot
      or follow my business page with that mugshot? or have personal profile mug shot and just business page ‘badge’

      There is little value at this point in adding the large box to your G+Page and it disrupts the visuals on the page. I think having your personal profile at the bottom is what is appropriate.

      Google plus local page (or old business page) come up at all, anywhere. Even 10 pages in. Is this normal?

      Not knowing how you are searching or what you are searching for it is hard to answer this question. In the ideal world your G+ Local Page should show as a branded search box on the front page of Google and as a listing in the 7 -Pack for your town when someone searchers for artist or portraits.

      The fact that it is not showing for either of those could indicate that Google doesn’t trust your listing or perhaps has punished it or it could just be that the system has not yet caught up with the fact that you are a business.

      Several notes on that front, your name for the G+ Local Page has to be how you are known in the real world as a business. It appeared to me that you might be adding “keywords” to your busness name which is forbidden.

      Trust in the local space for Google means that they can find your business listing at all of the other trusted sites, that the names match what they think it should be, that your listing follows their guidelines and that you do business where you say you do. As to that last point, there does not appear to be anywhere on your site where you list your name and address. A critical trust factor for Google.

      Focusing on social before you have the basics of your site up to snuff, its somewhat putting the cart before the horse.

      Today, having changed my google plus page to the ‘local’ page, when I test the homepage and main site pages with snippets tool it shows the picture from my personal profile rather than from the ‘local’ page.

      This is normal in the local space. And it means that your personal photo might show in the search results…. a good thing.

  • Brett says:

    I’m not sure if this will help anyone, but recently I was getting the “This business is already in your account” message when trying to set up a Google + page for a business.

    After trying everything, I noticed on the main “Places for Business” page when you first log in, you are presented with some options. Below the ‘Reviews’ and ‘Adwords Express’ boxes, there is a Google + Page option. I clicked the ‘Get started’ button, and it automatically set up the Google + page. Now i can click the Google + page link in the dashboard and it takes me to an actual page, rather than the loop i was previously in.

    I hope this helps someone.

  • Kris says:

    Do you have insight on combining an existing G+ page with a Places for Business page (or removing the Places entirely and the current G+ page be the official link)? I work for a congregation, and we wanted a YouTube channel, which created it’s own G+ page (which we want to use). Yet to claim ourselves on Google searches, that creates a Places for Business page.

    What I’d love is to have the Google search include a link to our existing G+ page, which connects to our YouTube channel. Any ideas? I can’t imagine that we’re the first “business” that has wanted its G+ page to be the official one that links to its YouTube channel.


    • Mike Blumenthal says:

      There is no way to remove a Google + Page for Local (Places for Business page) as it exists for every business in the world. There is no way to merge that page with a Google + Page for Business. There is little to no chance that you Google+ Page for Business will show in search results like the Google + Page for Local will.

      Thus (if I am understanding this correctly) it would be best to move your You Tube Channel to your Google + Page for Local (contact YouTube support) and then abandon your Google + Page for Business.

  • Michelle says:

    Hi Mike

    Great post. You’re being very helpful and very patient…

    This is quite confusing – google should be paying you to help sort us out!

    A quick question. I’m slightly worried that google might penalise me for having too many pages but I don’t know which one is the best to delete. I have manually set up the following:

    1. google+ personal page (blog posts credited to this profile)
    2. google+ business page
    3. google local business page

    Is it ok to have all three? Should I get rid of one? If so, which one – or should I try to maintain them all.

    Thanks so much for your time.

  • Michelle says:

    Thanks Mike. That’s good to know.

    I’ve read your other post and just wanted to check about potential duplicate content issues. If I tried to maintain both google + business and a google local business page by posting the same content to each, would one or the other be likely to be penalised? I was think of maintaining both in case it turns out one was preferred by google at some stage.

    Thanks again.

    • Mike Blumenthal says:

      I doubt that there would be penalties per se but I also don’t think that it is wise to maintain the same content on both pages. If you are not in a position to maintain both actively with unique content I see it as detrimental to try to put the same content on both. Why split your followers? Why split your plusses?

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