Just when you thought it was save to go in the water… Google changes the game again. Google+ has been an evolving entity since its inception, when membership required referral by a current member, back in November of 2011. Yes, we’ve spent over two years jumping through hoops, or perhaps I should say Google Circles. Understanding the evolution of Google+ is nearly impossible. Based on the conversations I’ve had with Google support technicians, I often think that Google doesn’t fully know what’s going on, but with their unprecedented growth, I can’t fault the company. Google is doing a lot of good for businesses, despite the frustration their changing systems cause. Before I explain in detail who to call for access to your Google+ Local listing, I want to quickly cover how the product works.
Yesterday’s Google Maps or Local or Places
Every business that Google knows about has a place on a Google map. Whether you want to be on Google or not is irrelevant. Google Earth has a way of seeing everything, everywhere. In the past, if you wanted to claim your map listing, you had two options. Google could call you and a digital voice would relay a 5-digit PIN that you enter online, or you might have to wait a few weeks on a postcard to be mailed to your business address. The postcard featured a PIN for you to enter online. The PIN was the key to claiming your map listing.
Once claimed, you could alter the information associated with your listing: phone, address, website, email, hours, payment types accepted, etc. You could add photos, then later, videos, and you could enter categories for your listing. You could even request to change where the map pin representing your business was located on the map. Any time you needed to change information in your listing, you simply logged into your Gmail account and edited the information. Badabing. Done.
We knew this system as Google Maps, then as Google Places, and now as Google Local. With each name change came revisions to the system.
Today’s Google+ Local Pages
Google Local is still in place. I can log in to my Google Places for Business account with Gmail and see my business listings that show up on Google maps. However, things are changing. Now, businesses that don’t cater to locals, meaning companies without storefronts, who serve customers nationally or globally, cannot have a Google Places page.
When MDPM moved offices, we had to change our Google Local page. I spoke with a Google support representative who recommended that, in addition to a physical address, I add hours, as if I had a storefront. She thought that data might trigger my listing to show up. It did not. The listing under Google Places for Business is still “under review.” Support techs at Google can’t give me insight as to what that means or how long the review will take. I’ve been going back and forth with Google for six months now on this.
However, MDPM does have a Google+ Local page, through Google+. The Page was created as a subsidiary of my personal Google+ page, and I can add managers. It features tabs, much like a website, showing information about my company and location, as well as public reviews, photos, videos, and posts that my page followers or I make on the page. That’s right, as with Facebook, my Google+ Local page can acquire followers. Furthermore, I can attach Google Authorship to my personal page, and that makes my photo show up in MDPM’s blog’s SERP listings.
Common Problems with Google+ Local
Understanding how Google’s tools for businesses work is a hurdle, mainly because the system changes all the time. From changing the banner size to rearranging content, the changes you’ll see when you visit your Google+ page appear random and pointless. However, while Google’s end users (us) may have a hard time understanding everything the company offers, we have to remember two things. One, it’s free. Two, Google has a much larger vision, possibly world domination. Not only can the company see everything from outer space, when Google Glass hits the marketplace, the company will also have a view of everything through the eyes of their users. Scary? Yes, but let’s focus on today.
In working with hundreds of dentists, consultants, small business owners, and marketing professionals, I’ve come across a host of issues with Google+. The most frustrating are:
Missing Google Reviews – They just disappear and no one knows where they went. Tech support says they’re probably pending review. This explanation begs the question, why now? They were published yesterday. This is very frustrating for businesses who invested time and money getting customers to leave online reviews.
Lost Account Logins – To find out if you have a Google+ Local page, log in to your Gmail. Click on the +YourName hyperlink on the top right of the screen. Then, click on the Home dropdown menu and select Pages. If you see a large picture of a cake and a blue button that says Create a Page, then no pages are associated with your Gmail account. If you see Polaroid-esque images of one or more Google+ Local Pages, each with a blue button that invites you to Manage Page, those pages are associated with your Gmail account. You either have ownership or manager rights to them, and you can change information on the pages. In many cases, a marketing company sets up a client’s Google+ Local page and never makes the client an owner or manager, so the client is not the owner of his/her own Google+ Local business page.
Gaining Access to Your Account – You do not have to buy Google Adwords to get help. On the contrary, there is a system in which you can speak to a human. Just hope you get a smart one, not a trainee. I’ve had both. Call 866-246-6453. The representative will ask for your account number, and if you have Adwords, you can give it to him/her. If you don’t have Adwords, you won’t have an account number. Ask to be transferred to Google+ Places Helpline.
From there, you’ll need to provide either your Google+ Local Page name, business phone, and address, or your Gmail address. Explain your situation as simply as you can. The representative will email you and get your permission to contact the current page owner on your behalf, asking to give you access. If you are the page owner but can’t find the right email and password, you’ll receive this request, and Google can send you a change password request. That will give you access to your account.
If you are not the owner of your own page (seems ridiculous, I know), then Google will email the current owner on file. Google will NOT tell you who the owner is or provide the email of the owner. The owner will have up to 14 days to respond to Google’s request. If no response is had, Google may turn over ownership to the person who answers the business phone. You might have to jump through a few more hoops in the name of security.
Get Help Now
Do not settle for being a manager of your page. The business owner needs ownership of his Google+ Local page, via his personal Google+ and Gmail account. Once you have ownership of your page, write it in permanent ink on your forehead!
There’s much more I could say about Google and Google+ and Google+ Local, etc., etc., but this blog has already run long. If you have questions about Google, leave a comment or give MDPM a call at 972-781-8861. We offer our website clients assistance with Google+ and other social media profiles. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.