You Just THOUGHT You Knew Google Places

“Finally,” you think. “I’ve mastered the exquisite art of Google Places. Now I can relax.”

Or not.

It turns out that Google has switched courses, replacing Google Places with Google+ Local. You may already have received a suspicious-looking email with the subject “Action Required: You have 3 weeks to save your Google Places Listing.” Honestly, it seemed a bit alarmist to me, and I was totally prepared to write it off as a scam. The Google product forums all but exploded with questions, threats, and general devastation from business webmasters, and the good folks at Google confirmed that, yes, it shall be so. This is what Jane Wang, Google Business Community Manager, had to say:

We are making some changes to Google Places for Business and Google Maps so we can continue providing people with the best experience when they’re looking for local businesses. As part of this process, we’re asking business owners to review and confirm some of the information in their Google Places accounts so we can keep showing it to Google users. We know this will be a few extra steps for merchants, and we apologize for any inconvenience and thank you for your time.

Um, great. This is terrifying. At least Google apologized for our inconvenience, right?

What Does This Mean for My Company’s Online Presence?

Bad, bad things, but only if you don’t take action. If you do not confirm your business information on Google Places, you will not show up on Google Places or Google Maps. You will not reap the carefully cultivated benefits of mobile and local search. Tears will be shed, customers will be lost. Don’t panic. This is totally doable, but you must complete these steps by February 21, 2014. I recommend dropping everything and doing it right now, just to be safe. Can your website really afford the cold shoulder from Google Search?

If you’ve received the “Action Required” email from Google:

  1. Log in to Google Places for Business.
  2. Ensure that all of your information is current, and submit changes if needed.
  3. If you have multiple listings under your account, update each one.
  4. Log in to Google Places for Business.
  5. Add your business information again.
  6. Complete the PIN verification process again.

If you did NOT receive the “Action Required” email from Google:

  1. Log in to Google Places for Business.
  2. Add your business information again.
  3. Complete the PIN verification process again.

You Might Also Be Wondering…

What if I want to create a new page listing?

If you use the new Places for Business dashboard to create your listing, you can still view your +page without completing PIN verification. Simply click on the link in your dashboard, and there you have it. Here’s the tricky part: You can still take advantage of Google+ social features without verifying your page, but your listing will not show up in Google Maps or elsewhere on Google-owned properties.

What if I created a Google+ page using the “Local Business and Place” category, but it isn’t verified yet?

No problem. Complete the PIN verification process so that your page will appear on Google Maps and Google Places.

Great, but what if I use Google+ to create a new local page for my business, but I’m not really sure if we’re already on Google Maps?

If you aren’t sure, Google may require you to complete PIN verification, then complete our admin request flow. Otherwise, you may be unable to manage your page.

There you have it. Yes, change is terrifying, but a bit of preparedness goes a long way. Remember, Google has taken these steps to create a more user-friendly experience for your customers. Does it mean jumping through a few hoops? Sure, but we’re all for anything that brings more custome

rs calling.

About Jill Nastasia, CEO of Modern Dental Practice Marketing: Jill, a mother of two, has more cats than she has children and is 100% fine with it. She says nice things about Google but secretly believes she could destroy Larry Page in an arm-wrestling competition. She might be right.