Google  Has Opened Its Doors to Local BusinessesGoogle’s answer to Facebook started out as a people-only space, but now it has expanded to businesses large and small.

Even if you feel you don’t have time to devote to Google+ right now, we recommend that you claim your business name immediately. Setting up your page is easy, as I discovered when I created my personal Google+ profile. After you claim your business name, you can determine how much time you want to devote to the social media site.

If you do start posting to Google+, you’ll discover that their Circle setup makes it easy to post to whichever group of people you’d like to target, or you can post publicly to everyone. The benefits of getting on Google+ can go far beyond simply connecting to customers. If fans of your business “Google+” your business — “Google+” is also a verb and the equivalent of a Facebook “Like” — this positively affects your ranking in Google searches, which could be a huge boon to your business.

Even though it’s still in beta, here are 10 things you should know before creating a page for your local business.

  1. A Google+ page is for brands and businesses. A profile is for people.
  2. A Google+ page can’t +1 others pages and items.
  3. A variation of a Google+ page is a local Google+ page that’s more tied to a location. You fill out the information (phone number, address, etc.) needed for your business to be found.
  4. The only person who can run your Google+ page is the one who creates it. Currently, you cannot have multiple admins for a brand or business page. Google says it will eventually allow multiple users.
  5. It will likely be better in the long run to create a Gmail address for your business and attach that to your profile page. This is so you will feel comfortable sharing that password when it comes time to share duties managing the page. The alternative would be to tie the profile to your personal email account.
  6. You can add whomever you want to your circles, which serve as a means to organize contacts on Google Plus. However, they are not going to see what you’re posting to your circles until they add you to one of theirs.
  7. That said, there’s a public setting for posts unrelated to circles. It is the default. This means anyone can see those updates and the posts will be found in searches.
  8. Unlike profiles, business pages cannot post an update to extended circles where updates can show up in friends of friends streams.
  9. Currently, you cannot run contests and giveaways on Google+.
  10. Google+ will work with AdWords, so any +1 your business receives will benefit your AdWords campaigns.

Here’s the official word from Google themselves.

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