I’ll start this post by saying I really like what Google are trying to do with Google+, Google+ Pages and Google+ Local – BUT!
The big problem is though it appears as though there are different Google departments trying to out do each other rather than working together.
So what have they messed up with Google+ Business Pages?
For a start, it is far too complicated, so complicated in fact that most SEO experts or marketing experts don’t even appear to know how to us it properly.
I’ll start by explaining some basics about Google accounts.
1. Google Account – You have to have a Google account to do virtually anything, the big problem here is that over the years it has been easy to, either by accident or deliberately create different Google Accounts, Google allow you to merge these, but it isn’t easy and you may not want to. Why would you want what you do in Picasa, YouTube, GMail, Maps, Groups, Blogger, etc., all linked to an account you use for your business?
2. Google+ Profile – From your Google Account a Google+ Profile is created, you have one of these whether you like it or not and everything you have done over the years with your Google Account is linked to the Google+ Profile. You have to use this Google+ Profile to create Google+ Pages BUT and it’s a big but, you don’t use this Google+ Profile to create Google+ Local Pages – confused yet?
3. Google+ Pages – Google+ Pages for business have been with us since October/November 2011. To create a Google+ Page you have to do it via your Google+ Profile, some of you may have spent several months building up your Google+ Page and have very nice informative, active Google+ Pages for your business, guess what, you may have wasted all that time!
4. Google Maps – Initially a system that encouraged engagement, encouraged people to create maps, encouraged people to add places/things to Maps whether they had any connection with that place/thing or not.
5. Google Places – Jump forward a few years and Google saw that Maps could be used for business listings and via Google Local Business Centre businesses could add themselves to the system via a Google Account (not a Google+ Profile)
This was all very good except for the fact that Google, probably to make Google Local Business Centre look more used than it was, merged the data from Google Maps in to Google Local Business Centre to create what then became known as Google Places.
There were strict guidelines about Google Places, but these were contradictory with guidelines for Google Maps resulting in a complete mess with some Places set up correctly, some places just using Google Maps data and a lot of Places set up just to manipulate the system.
6. Google+ Local – Google+ Local or Local Google+ Business or whatever it may be called next month is the next reincarnation of Google Maps/GLBC/Google Places (still with the mixed up data)
Google+ Local is supposedly being merged in with Google+ and Google+ Pages.
As mentioned earlier though THE BIG PROBLEM is Google+ is all controlled via a Google Profile, Google Places (and thus Google+ Local) are controlled via a Google Account which may not neccesarily be under the same control.
Most people appear to think Google+ Pages for Business and Google+ Local for Business are the same thing, they are not.
Google intend merging them together but what will happen if;
1. The Google+ Page is controlled via a Google+ Profile via a Google Account.
2. The Google+ Local Page is controlled via a different Google Account.
You may think this may not be the norm, but as numerous Google Places listings were set up via marketing agencies, people using throwaway Google accounts, people using different Google Accounts (be it accidental or deliberate), people using old Google Accounts, etc. etc. we are going to end up with a right mess of duplicate listings that can’t be merged.
And what about us early adopters who have been using Google+ Pages since October? As it stands Google+ Local Pages seem to have a precedence over Google+ Pages. If the merging messes up will all our hard work over recent months just dissapear down the drain?
What Google Should Have Done
Had Google been brave and believed fully in Google+ for Business they wouldn’t be pulling in old, untrusted, out of date data from Google Maps, Google Local Business Cente, Google Places, ETC. they would have started a whole new system which only uses listings set up from verified Google users using their Google Accounts. They could easily email all Google Places owners and asked them to migrate to Google+ rather than do it automatically.
Off course, had they done this there would be a lot less Google+ Local Places in existence and as we know Google like to shout out about just how many users they have, the fact 90% may be inactive is in the small print.
It’s not too late if someone at Google is brave enough too look past the figures, it would be far better for all of us (including end users) to have fewer, but, active, up to date, genune, non manipulated Google+ Local listings than more, but, duplicate, out of date, fake, manipulated listings.
It won’t happen off course because all the seperate Google departments seem to be interested in themselves rather than the bigger picture.
Do you know what Google+ Local reminds me of at the moment ?
It reminds me of those cheap, tacky, scraping directory sites that scrape content then optimise it to rank high for business names so that when the business owner searches for his business name he sees his listing and is then pressured in to upgrading it.
Rant over for now.