I am finding Google's change from Places to Local Pages (which in theory you can merge with a G+ business page) to be quite a nightmare, and I wonder what other's experiences have been?
For this particular business I am battling G+ over, I had a place (and a website) for a natural health small business, and a separate website (and place) for a subsidiary of that business which is an independent, state-wide distributorship of products, which ties in with marketing that comes from the international head office. Until G+, everything ran smoothly.
When G+ arrived, I created a Business Page for the small business (which we have not been able to verify... I've gone through about 6 pins, and each one they send out is declared to be incorrect). But then when they changed Places to Local Pages, I noticed that the resulting Local page was a mashup of the 2 former places, with out of date information that was not updated even though the place pages were updated. I also tried to merge the Local page with the Business page, and I've not had any success. So I turned to the G+ support forum, as their Help pages tended to lead to 404s. I'm not getting anywhere, but am learning a lot of unwritten rules:
- Google don't allow multiple businesses at the same address.. Small businesses which take up a single room of a building are in trouble then. I've had to choose whether I wanted a Local page for the health business OR the distributorship, and delete the place entry for the other. (The places page for the distributorship used to get a lot of visits. Since the manual merge of the 2 places, impressions have gone down significantly.)
- Using links in the About section on the Business page (courtesy of the handy Link tool in the WYSIWYG editor) is not allowed. Inserting links in a description is spam, apparently. (So why not disable that functionality in the editor..?)
- Listing the services offered in the description in Places ("Natural therapy business offering....") is "category spam". Even though the Local page only offers one category (down from 5 when it was Places), and the one G+ selected is one of the minor services of the business rather than one of the main services provided. I've asked them what then is allowed in the description, if you can't describe what you do...
They also made the comment that "you need to apply similar de-spamming to your website and web directory entries.". I've asked them to clarify what they mean. Are they suggesting that the website for the business can't describe what services are offered??
So, after 2 months of communications with G+ support, I'm no closer to resolving this, as each time they come up with new things they want deleted. They signed the most recent email with: "Google Places and the new more complicated Google+ environment is not one you can treat lightly." I have no idea what they mean by that (I've asked), but it is certainly making me even less inclined to bother with G+ at all. Knowing that the content they have selected for this Local page is incomplete, and in some cases downright wrong, I have no confidence that the other information in Local pages is correct. I've helped numerous clients with Facebook pages and Places entries in the past, but I am not in a hurry to suggest / help them do anything on G+!