Hold Off on the Half-Baked Google+ Local Merge

December 13th, 2012 by Search Influence Alumni

This weekend while shopping for Christmas presents, I found this ad at one of the booths. The flyer advertises a seminar that will teach business owners how to claim their Google Place Page and Google+ Business pages. While we do encourage small businesses to claim these pages, we recommend holding off on attempting to merge the pages into a Google+ Local page.

Google+ Local Pages were released with the intention of replacing Google Places as an accessible enhanced business listing to be used across search, Maps, mobile, and Google+. Unfortunately, the transition has been anything but smooth. Months after the release, Google Places for Business has lost its functionality, Google+ Local is riddled with bugs, and the only advice we’ve received from Google is to “Sit tight!”

Patience, however, is not a virtue on the Internet, so rather than sitting tight, bloggers are nudging Google towards action by adding to the list of problems with Google+ Local. Businesses who have attempted the merge have experienced issues such as:

  • Lost reviews
  • Inoperable PINs
  • Pages getting stuck as “In Progress” for more than a week after inputting the verification PIN
  • Limited business types

When Google ran its beta testing for merges in July, Search Influence successfully merged our own place page with our Google+ local page by way of the manual verification request. While we were able to merge a few of our clients’ place pages and Google+ local pages using PIN verification, we have also experienced our share of problems.

Upon merging the pages of one of our clients, the address number was removed. When we reported this issue to Google, a rep responded, “After investigating your problem, we’ve found that it is being caused by a technical issue and we are pursuing a resolution. At this time, we cannot say when the issue will be resolved and when you will see your reported problem fixed.” This incredibly vague “technical issue” and ever more vague resolution date epitomizes Google’s response to most of the ongoing Google+ Local problems.

In August, we attempted to merge the Google+ Local with Google Places for a plastic surgeon in Orange County using Mike Blumenthal’s step by step guide. We took all of the steps necessary and input the PIN on November 8 — and the merge simply has not taken place. The page no longer says “”Unverified” or “In Progress,” and the link at the bottom of the postcard delivers the following message: “You have no businesses pending verification.”

With no insights from Google on when the Google Local “veritable trainwreck for business listing management” will be resolved, Mike Blumenthal recommends that businesses refrain from attempting to merge their pages at all. While we appreciate Googler Jade’s recommendations for some of the more common merging issues, we have also grown accustomed to Google’s ability to provide us with answers. The fault lies in not only rolling out a product chock full of bugs, but in refusing to provide any guidance on how to prevent or resolve the issues. If Google expects page-holders to willingly convert and use Google+ Local, they need to hammer out the kinks, make it more user friendly, and keep businesses informed about their future plans.