Everybody uses Google, and you know that your small business should be taking advantage of the search engine too, but which Google platform is most important and where should you be focusing your energies? As far as search results, rankings and reviews, Google+ Local and Google My Business are the best places to be. Unfortunately, Google really hasn’t made it easy to tell the difference between these two platforms to the average person. You should have an active presence on both platforms to make sure you’re getting the most out of the Google machine, so let’s break them both down a little, help you know which is which, and clarify how you can use Google to build your business.

Here’s where it gets extra confusing: although Google+ Local and Google My Business platforms are separate, they can (and most definitely should) be combined and accessed under one profile, as long as you use the same email address to register both pages.

Once your accounts have been created, they should automatically merge within a few hours and can be viewed and edited on one dashboard when you login to your Google+ account.

Google My Business – Essentially acts as an informational page. You can see Google My Business featured on the right hand side of the search results page; it’s the most basic form of a Google local page.

  • Google My Business requires verification for your business to be listed correctly and to make any corrections/edits (can be done via phone, email, or regular mail.)
  • Google My Business is attached directly to Google Maps and feeds information directly to GPS devices as well.
  • Provides basic information like location/hours of operation, can post a few select photos.
  • Cons: doesn’t allow for social interaction, can be a pain to verify, won’t link to reviews, can’t network with other small businesses.

Go HERE to set up Google My Business

Google+ Local For Brands– The Google+ Local (pronounced Google Plus Local) platform adds a social media element on top of the same information provided in Google My Business, with the added benefit of increased search results with Google’s powerful search engine database tools to pull from.

  • Adding a social media aspect through Google+ increases your online interactions, which Google loves, and rewards your engagement with your page showing up more often in search results.
  • Don’t have to verify your information the same way you do on Google My Business.
  • You can add visual aspects, like a cover photo, or videos, to help your business stand out from the crowd.
  • You can also link to your business web page which adds a verified check mark by your name and encourages click throughs, another bonus.
  • Get the biggest benefit from Google+ by using it to connect with other local businesses and active local online users.

Go HERE to get started with Google+ Brands.

As a parting reminder, once you have your profiles posted and merged don’t let them fall inactive! Focus on making sure that the information provided on both your Google business pages is identical, accurate and up-to-date. On Google+ it benefits you to add as many other local businesses, service providers, restaurants, etc., to your circles as you can. Keep active by posting updates on your business, posting relevant information, news, and offers, helping your Google business page to display more often for shoppers who are conducting local searches. What Google wants most from you is accurate information and an active Google+ profile. If you can cover those two things, you’ll be in business.

For more insights on marketing strategy that actually works for small business, subscribe to the FreshLime Newsletter here. Connect with Jay Bean, Founder of FreshLime and Small Business Marketing Expert on LinkedIn and Twitter.