2 Big Changes to Google+ Pages for Your Business You Need to Know About

Nearly a year after launching Google+ pages for brands and businesses, the search giant continues to roll out changes to the way these pages work.

Two of the changes announced recently fulfill a long-standing request from brands—custom URLs—and a prediction we and others have made previously—merging of Google+ pages for local businesses with their Google Places listings.

Here’s what you need to know about these 2 changes to Google+ pages for your business.

Google+ page custom URLs

Currently, all Google+ pages (and profiles) have lengthy, impossible-to-remember URLs.

But Google has announced — in a post on its Plus page, appropriately — that it is beginning to roll out the ability for brand pages to select custom URLs, similar to the functionality currently available for Facebook pages.

However, in order to have access to this functionality when it’s made available to everyone, your Google+ page must first be verified. There are two ways to do this.

First, you can request verification for a Google+ page via this form. One major criteria to take note of: When you use this process, Google requires a “substantial” number of followers (i.e. people who have circled your page), although it does not define what that number is. Even if you meet all of the other criteria for a verified page, the verification request will be denied if your follower count is too low.

Alternately, if your page was created in the category of Local Business, you will see an Unverified marker at the top of your page. When you hover over that, you should see a Verify Now button. Click that to begin the verification process. (Full instructions for verifying a Local Business Google+ Page.)

(Not sure if your Google+ page is a Local page? Go to your page and click on the About tab. Local pages have addresses at the top of the information and a small Google Map of the location on the right side of the page.

Google+ page and places merging

This brings us to the second change, the merging of Google+ Pages for local business (which Google calls Google+ Local) with their Google Maps Place listings, which began back in May.

According to Google, when the verification process described above is completed, “Existing listing information on Google Maps will now be merged with your new Google+ Local listing.”

Even if you don’t go through the verification process, if you have a Google Place, it will be converted to a  Google+ Local page automatically at some point this year.

Now what if you already have a Google+ Business Page but it isn’t a Google+ Local Page? (How’s that for confusing?) As of right now, there’s no way to join a non-Local page and Place together, but we expect this may change in the future as Google clearly wants to eliminate Places altogether.

Also unclear at the moment is what happens when a business has both a non-local Google+ Business Page and a Google+ Place. The Place listing will get converted to a Google+ Local page, but will that leave you with two Google+ Pages for your business, one local and one not?

Since this applies to us, we’ll be keeping an eye out for additional information on this  particular scenario.

Help with Google+ pages for businesses

If you have any problems during the verification process or other functionality with Google+, try asking questions on the Google and Your Business product forum; they’re often answered by Google employees or other highly knowledgeable users.

[Update April 10, 2013]

Google is rolling out a completely updated dashboard for Places that better integrates management of merged Google+ Local pages. The following articles provide additional detail:

For custom consulting on creating and using a Google+ Page or any other social media platform, find out how Innate can help you today.

[Photo credit: Graham Smith, Flickr Creative Commons]

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