Today we are talking about how you can use Google+ to grow your property management business. For a local business, the main benefit of Google+ is how it acts like the old Yellow Pages. It lists your business and ties it to a specific location and category; so your business can be found by all the people searching for that type of company or service in the area. For example, if someone is searching for “San Francisco Property Management”, you will see several companies on the front page of the search results.
You’ll see a map and some little pins on that map showing where, exactly, those local property management companies are located. To appear, you need a Google Local page with a verified address. If you properly categorize your business, it will show up in searches. Theoretically.
In reality, there are often 20-50 property management companies competing for the 10 or so Map Pins spaces Google has to offer.
So who gets the top placement?
The answer to this question is fluid, because if there is one constant about Google, or any other Internet technology, is that everything changes all the time.
However, we can say one thing with absolute confidence: To have a chance at a free front page placement, your Google Local listing (which used to be called a Google Places page) must be connected to a Google+ Business Page with a 100% completed profile. Right now, this means a complete business description, proper categorization, a verified address and phone number, website links, some images, a few published reviews and, in addition, everything connected to your business Youtube channel. Whew.
Why bother to do all this? Because you get all of your reviews, all of the videos you’ve created, and any other related information about your company all in one place. It encompasses everything and allows businesses to power up their listings and SEO, while managing it in one place.
Why is it so complicated? Because over the past year or so Google has tried to merge a number of different products together. It had Google Maps and Google Places, which were Google’s “Local Listing” products; then they added reviews to the mix; then they decided to add all this to Google+, in an attempt to create something that’s like MapQuest, Yahoo Local, Yelp, and Facebook all at once. It’s amazing it isn’t even more complicated.
We have seen a number of issues with setting up a proper Google+ presence for a local business as the old Google Places gets more and more integrated with the social network side of Google+. Here are a few:
Old address. The most common problem is an old address being associated with an existing page. You might have created your Google Places page two years ago when you had a different address. If you’re in a new location, Google will try to verify your account by sending a postcard to the old address.
No address. Another issue is when you don’t have a physical location for your company, or you have multiple offices.
Third Party Management. If a third party activated your Google Places page using a non-Google email address, there can be problems verifying your Google+ page, as a Google+ page requires you to use a Gmail or Google Apps email account.
Ex-Employee. You might also have a case where a former employee created your Google+ page and no one else in the company knows the password or can find the right email address to activate the account.
Most of these pitfalls require a lot of work to straighten out. Usually, a phone call to Google is necessary to unverify the existing account with the problem and then re-verify the active and working account.
All of this may sound confusing, and Andy and I think we could probably write a book on Google+ and how to get your local business up there. Of course, that book would only be good for today and tomorrow because things change so fast. So, if you have a problem with Google+, give us a call at Fourandhalf and ask for Andy. He is the expert and he can save you two hours of banging your head against a wall.
Or, you could have us set this up for you, and get your property management Google+ page activated and verified. We can help you get a good shot at showing up on the front page of Google search results. After all, it’s what we do.