Understanding Google+ products and how to use them to benefit your hotel

Google’s goal is to provide companies with powerful and easy tools so that shoppers will find them when they search online. Your hotel’s goal is just the same. You want the same tools working hard for you for the same result. Sometimes, however, the variety of Google products can be overwhelming and cause confusion. Which should you use personally?  What should you use for your hotel?  Which tool is for marketing, and which one provides you with the stats and numbers that you need?

What is Google+?

The first thing to remember is that Google+ alone is for your personal profile only, so you would never open up a profile your hotel. So what is left? A Google+ Business Page, or a Google+ Local Page, or an entry in Google Maps?

Google Places as it was has gone; it has been assumed into Google+ Business Pages. As well, Google+ Places Pages has been converted into Google+ Local Pages.
This screen shot taken from the guys at Buuteeq makes it easier to understand.

Google products old vs new

In other words, the former Google Places is amalgamated into Google+ Business Pages to produce Google+ Local Pages – which is what you should now use for your hotel.

Google+ Business Pages

Google has designed Google+ Business Pages for you to use as the online way that you socialize with your guests through Google search. Use the pages to share photos, hotel news, special deals, and so on. When you see several tabs on the site shown to you in a Google search, you will recognize that a hotel is using Google+ Business Pages. The tabs include posts, photos, videos, facilities, location etc., and these tabs are determined by what you have included when you set up and claim your Google+ Business Page.

Not too many hotels are using Google+ Business Pages successfully to date, because it is often hard to find a large number of guests who actually use Google+, though this is growing rapidly.  This means your Google+ community might not be very vigorous to begin with. However, this could be a benefit to you in the Google+ Local Pages, because their features increase your prominence in search engines, and you can show ahead of your competitors.

Local Search Results

You must create Google+ Local Pages when you create your Google+ Business Page, because Google currently rewards Local pages with a higher position in local queries—which are the exact ones for which you want your hotel to rank. When a shopper Googles a local query like “Amsterdam Hotels”, Google shows ads first, after which come one or two organic results.  Following that, will be a block of Google+ Local results.

Google search amsterdam hotels

If your hotel has a Google+ Local Page, you will appear right here in this Local Pages block in the screenshot above (Note that if you had a Google Places listing this was automatically transformed into a Google+ Local Page earlier this year). The top ranking hotel is the famous American Hotel on the Leidse square area.

Google+ Page ad

If you go ahead and claim your Google+ Local page, it could be that you will outrank other hotels with automatically generated Google+ Local Pages (as above), even if your website’s regular page rank is lower than theirs. Plus, your search result will show the Google+ page link.

How to Verify Your Google+ Business Page

Once you have created your Google+ Business Page, you are required to verify your page by requesting a postcard containing your Personal Identification Number (PIN).  Here is how:

  • Go to https://plus.google.com/dashboard.  Find the page you would like to verify and click Manage this Page.
  • Beneath your address, click Verify your Business.
  • Before you receive a postcard from Google with your PIN, check that the contact information is correct.
  • Add a name to the Optional Contact Name field if you wish to address this postcard to a specific person.  (The name will not appear anywhere else on Google.)
  • You must have already created your Google+ Local Business Page to receive a PIN, because then you have posted a local business address in order to receive the postcard.
  • Click Request Postcard.  Once your postcard arrives, you can verify your Google+ page by entering your PIN online at www.google.com/local/verify.

Note: If you change your business address before you enter your PIN online, you will need to request a new PIN and verify your new address all over again.

Shortly after you have verified your business, your Google+ Local Page will display a verified checkmark.

Things to Remember

Google has its own standard way of displaying addresses and is more likely to rank you higher if all of your addresses throughout the web match each other exactly.  So if your Google+ Business Page has a different address format, change it on your website and all other places, and make sure they match exactly.

In order that all your information transfers to your Google display, fill in as many of the fields as possible.  Complete business name, address, phone number, hours, and business category, as well as post pictures, videos and an appealing description.

As I mentioned above, you may not see as much action from your Google+ followers, but you may well outrank your competitors with your Google+ Local Page. Isn’t that worth trying for?

Like what you are reading? Follow us on Twitter for more regular updates on online reputation management and social media for hotels. Or check our other interesting posts on our blog.

Image (cc): Sean MacEntee
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