Just reviewed some data that blew me away. Late this spring we purchased an smb. It wasn't doing well. Among other things it suffered from miserable search visibility. In the process of closing and sharing some information we found that the smb had relatively few leads compared to an existing smb we owned of the same type.
The two different brick and mortar businesses SHOULD have had about the same amount of leads in my mind. They are both "too" dependent on search and of course google. They are both regional in nature but in reasonably far apart communities. Of course there is an opportunity for one location to cannibalize one another. On the other hand they should each have significantly different "catch areas" that are distinct. Our existing smb had better visibility and we learned had received about 2.5 times the leads of the other business in the same time period. Very surprising.
Once closing we set up a new google local record. Unfortunately for us we "inherited" a google penalty attached to that address and the phone number of the old business which we had kept. We didn't know we had inherited the "penalty".
It took a couple of weeks for it to sink in to me. Thereafter we tried to get google local "support/customer service" first using their relatively new direct phone service into a phone customer service person.
The call worked and the responsiveness that day was excellent. The phone person immediately fixed one small problem and reported that a second problem was "deeper"/more complex and would require some time to fix.
The deeper problem never got fixed. Even worse was that we were left in the dark. So we kept getting back to google and finally we got response from a "higher up".
Of course that took weeks. WEEKS!!!!!
Between the time we made contact and he found the problem and got back to us...it was all of 1hour and fifteen minutes. We took a beating for weeks and the problem was identifiable in all of 1 hour 15 minutes.
Among other issues one huge problem was that this penalty via google + local (google maps) was hampering visibility and leads leads.
The after affect
Leads have skyrocketed to the smb whose record was "fixed/had the penalty removed". Its only been about 1.5 months but that increase is vital, valuable, and surprisingly high. It is of course a relief.
The big increase in leads is coming from the region where visibility should have been strongest and was severely hampered. In this relatively short time period the difference is remarkable and of course it "saves" the business.
The impact of G Maps visibility is extraordinarily important for many smb's and even more so for those that are "search dependent". In my experience we have mostly been able to push up visibility in all cases. In this example where we inherited miserable visibility the difference is ultimately the difference between "making it" and failing and very striking.
All I can suggest for those working on local sites is to get the G Maps part down and give that smb a fighting chance among competitors.