172/365 - My head is spinningHow about a Monday morning brain twister? SMBs heads are spinning and local pros too.

There are 2 separate local products in Google with almost the same name. Either this latest change that morphed Places Pages into Google+ Local pages was not very well thought out OR the right hand didn’t know what the left hand was doing. Can’t figure out if it’s conflicting branding or just an oversight. But they should fix, before it gets any more convoluted.

UPDATE 2/15/13 – NEW IMPROVED POST HELPS EXPLAIN WITH IMAGES
Crazy Google Local Page Name Conundrum – Clearing the Confusion

Local Google+ Pages have been around since November 2011. They are essentially a Google+ Business page with Local set as the category. They have all the G+ social features, BUT not the Places features. They don’t require verification or show up in search. (Managed in Google + account)

Google+ Local Pages are the NEW pages that Place pages just automagically morphed into. NO social YET. (Managed in your Places dashboard)

The plot thickens… Lots more to this confusing story below. About a week ago I searched Google for Google+ Local to see if they’ve changed branding on the Google Places sign up page or if there were any new help docs or anything.

If a business hears about Google+ Local and has never created a Place page previously and they search GOOGLE to find out how to set up a Google+ Local page – guess what they find in the SERPS??? You would expect to find in the #1 spot, a Google page all about how to set up a Google+ Local page, right? NO – ZERO results. But what IS there, lower on the page is going to confuse the heck out of that business owner. Help docs for how to Create a local Google+ page The docs talk about circles and other features that are not yet available on G+ Local pages yet. This local page does not even require verification or anything so is NOT the old Place page AKA new Google+ Local. (FYI that’s the same help doc page SearchEngineLand linked to back in Nov.)

WHY does the wrong Google help doc rank on page 1 of Google??? Because: 1) Google search is even confused about which is which and 2) The sign up page for Google Places is not even re-branded as Google+ Local yet.

Here’s one example of a business owner who is confused on the forum. The confusion was around wording on Google’s early upgrade request sign up form which states: “In order to be considered you must have your business verified in Google Places for Business and have created a local Google+ page.”

In that doc Google refers to what USED to be a “Place page” and is now a “Google+ Local page” as “Google Places for Business” (more branding confusion), then mentions you also need to CREATE a local Google+ page.

So you wonder why a user in the forum is confused and says “We did not create our local Google+ pages. Google created them for us as they transferred our information from our Google Place Pages listings to create them.” He thinks they are talking Google+ Local page but they mean local Google+ page. So below was my reply to him trying to explain…

When you set up a Google+ Business page, you can select a category and one of the categories is LOCAL. Super confusing and much of the documentation EVEN MONTHS AGO before any of these recent changes referred to Local Google+ pages. (Not the new Google+ Local pages as we call the new Place pages.)

So in that early merge request – when it says “In order to be considered you must have your business verified in Google Places for Business and have created a local Google+ page.” I think the 2nd part means you need to have already set up a Google+ Business page with LOCAL selected as the category. (IE a Local Google+ page.)

Really confusing semantics they need to work out between the OLD Local Google+ pages and the new Google+ local pages.

Vanessa and Jade have both called the NEW pages by the old (wrong) name. Jade once said “We’re planning on merging the local Google+ pages (in Google+ Local, formerly Places listings) and the Google+ business pages.” It’s not that they goofed, it’s that the 2 names for 2 different products are easy to turn around and way too similar. Plus since Vanessa was on the Places side of the house, so I wonder if she even knows there is a totally different product on the G+ side, called Local Google+ Pages.

Not only is it confusing business owners. It even has local pros confused. Phil posted instructions for how to edit your Google+ Local page by logging into your Local Google+ Page. The 2 are separate animals and you can’t edit one via the other. But I think it’s the similar names and help docs that got him confused. And I don’t blame him at all. It’s confusing. I replied to Phil’s post with the following comment, then he made some edits to the original post.

I think there may be some confusion and I know it’s Google that’s causing it. I’ve been meaning to talk to them about this.

Above you reference their new Google+ Local page which is the one Google automatically created and upgraded users to. But they CAN’T edit that page the way you describe via their Local Google+ page. They can only edit that page through the dashboard, just like old Place pages.

But your instructions are for setting up a new Google+ page. Which will not change their Google+ Local page. So they will have 2 separate pages to manage via 2 different interfaces for now.

Google has hinted that unless you really need the social features of G+ Pages right now, it may be best to just stick with your Google+ Local (Place Page) for now and wait until G turns that into a full blown G+ Business page.

People can do what you suggest, but just want to make it clear they are not adding to or changing their Place page – but creating a new separate one.

Part of the confusion is the the PRIOR Google+ Business page that you’ve been able to create for months now and select the local category – is called a Local Google+ page. Which is different than the brand new Google+ Local page which used to be a Place page. So confusing for all!

So just to be sure it’s clear – when you say “But making edits or adding info to your Google+ Local page can be confusing – especially if you haven’t logged into your Google+Local page yet.”

Log in and edits STILL happen in the dashboard as before. The edits you are suggesting above will create a NEW totally separate Local+ Google page, and will not edit your Google+ Local page.

Is anyone’s head spinning yet? Mine is.

Not sure how Google should deal with the confusing branding and help docs about Google+ Local and Local Google+. But I think ASAP they need to rebrand the OLD Google Places home page which is where you would go to set up a new Google+ Local page, to reflect the new name – so if someone is searching for it, it shows up at the top of the SERPs where business owners can at least find the right product and correct information.

IMAGE CREDIT – Micah Taylor