Google+ Local and Google Places for Hotels – The Ultimate Guide

This guide is split into two sections. This section explains Google’s offerings for businesses and how hotels can take advantage of them. To skip to section two, click “How to Claim or Create Your Hotel’s Google+ Local Page“.

Google has made a mess of things. As I’m sure you’ll remember, Google Places way back in the day was complicated enough. Now, thanks to Google+, we have to worry about Google+ Local, Google+ for Business, Google+ Profiles, and yes, we still have Google Places. What’s the difference between them all? Do you even need them?

In this article, I will explain the differences between each Google+ offering with step-by-step instructions on how to set up a page for your hotel. I will also cover some of the most frequent troubleshooting issues our clients have had with Google+ products, including merging Local and Business Pages.


Part 1 – A Short History

As you can see, Google has evolved their local business solutions quite a bit, and they will probably change more in the future.


Part 2 – Product Breakdown

Google+ Profile

google+-profile-for-hotelsA Google+ profile is for people, not businesses. Profiles have certain social functions that Pages do not, such as the ability to add other profiles into your circles, and to complete Google authorship markup with websites. Hoteliers should not create Profiles for their business, because profiles lack the business functionality of pages. Instead, they should make Google+ Local Pages.

Google Places

google-places-for-hotelsGoogle Places is a legacy (outdated) search engine marketing solution for businesses. Google Places have been succeeded by Google+ Local Business Pages, and all Places pages have been converted into Local Pages. Business owners who create new Places will actually be creating a Google+ Local Page that they can update from the old Places dashboard.

Google+ Business Pages

google+-business-pagesGoogle wants you to think of Business Pages as social websites for your hotels. They want you to use Google+ Business Pages as the primary way you socialize online with your guests. You can use the pages to share photos, hotel news, deals, coupons, and more.

That said, only a handful of hotels have leveraged Google+ Business Pages successfully. Google+ users are niche. It may be hard to find a lot of guests who use Google+—therefore, your community on Google+ may not be very robust.

The true usefulness of Google+ Business Pages, at the moment, are Local Pages, which come with several powerful features that can increase your hotel’s prominence on search engines.

Google+ Local Pages

google+-local-for-hotelsLocal Pages are Google+ Business Pages. The difference is that when the owner created the page, he or she chose “local business” instead of “brand, organization, team” and so on. This selection converts the Business Page into a Local Business Page, which can appear on Google Maps, in Google Local search, and have Local perks like Zagat ratings, user reviews, and so on—basically, everything Google Places previously had, and a few extra perks that came with Google+. I did a breakdown last year of Google+ Local features for hotels which you can read here.

google-local-from-place-pages

Hoteliers must create Google+ Local Pages, because Google currently rewards Local pages with search prominence for local queries—which are the exact ones you want your hotel to rank for. When a guest Googles a local query like “New York hotels”, Google will show ads first, then one or two organic results, and then a big block of Google+ Local results. If your hotel does not have a Google+ Local Page, it will not appear here. If your competitors do not have them, but you do, then you may outrank them—even if your website’s Page Rank and Domain Authority are inferior.

google-local-in-serps

Many hotel properties with Google+ Local Pages enjoy a large promotional box in the Google search engine result page (SERP) for branded search queries, which can include reviews, Zagat rating, directions to the hotel, phone numbers, and a link to the website.

gogole-local-in-serp-for-hotels


Read section two, which provides steps on claiming your hotel’s Google+ Local listing.

10 Comments

  • Well done as this local, maps, page etc. created some confusion. However, this entire thing has not really well thought through for example Lodges and Hotels in rural areas. The difficulty is that those don’t have a street address and thus can’t be setup and verified the way Google wants to. For example the post address is only a PO box which google does not allow. Using the next city causes the maps pin marker to move to the city as well, but this is not where your hotel is. Trying to reach anyone for support has failed for the last 6 months and thus we end up with wrong, misleading multiple entries which we can’t even change. Any suggestion on how to change this or to whom we can SPEAK on this problems are very welcome. We can’t be the only establishments operating Lodges/Hotels in rural areas without a proper street address.

    • Great insight Thomas, thanks for sharing. You’re right–Google+ Local is not set up to support businesses that operate out of PO Boxes.

      What directions do you give your customers when they arrive at your lodges? Do you give them an address, or general “turn here, turn there” directions?

      • This is probably a kind of miss-design of the product. How many Lodges are in remote or rural areas, not only in Africa but even in North America? Here in Namibia we don’t even have a postal service that would bring that verification postcard, only a Postbox. So there is no other way at all. Our guest directions are rather easy as you can see either at http://www.midgardcountryestate.com/directions or http://www.mokutietoshalodge.com/direction. We are next to one of the main hotspots/point of interest in Namibia. The Etosha National Park. Do you have any suggestion on how to overcome this problem with Google Local/Maps/+?

        • Oh, I didn’t realize you were in Nambia. Actually, I don’t believe Google has rolled out the complete Google+ product to international businesses yet. Much of the Google+ Local information here works well for US businesses, but does not apply for international businesses.

          Once Google opens up their Google+ product globally, they may find a solution for your particular need.

    • Google may or may not support Google+ Local pages outside of North America. However, if a Google+ Local Page exists for your property in the Caribbean, you should be able to claim it. If for some reason you are unable to verify ownership of it using the post-card method, you may need to sift through Google’s phone tree to get phone support.

  • Yes. REALLY great explanation. It’s so fluid a place, that I can’t help but think other things are going to pop up. But I am sure the bugs will settle down as the migration continues. Just the other day, picasawebalbums migrated to Google Plus, and privacy settings got a bit wonky. I can’t wait til this is nearer completion. If that ever happens in this fast paced and ever changing world… =) Great job. Thanks.

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