Jul 112011

If you are a business owner or a person involved into local search and particularly Google Places, the odds are high that you’ve experienced some kind of an error, bug, diverging data, merge, duplicate, the list goes on. Many of the people asking me for advice/requesting my services are having such troubles and I have to deal with the Google’s imperfect work all the time on behalf of frustrated business owners.

How do I do that?

First, I have to say that the result is not 100% positive and usually does not take place immediately. Depending on the complexity of the problem it might take from 1 day to 2-3 months for it to be fixed. Each glitch has its own specifics, but they could roughly be classified into a few groups:

A) “We currently do not support the location”:

Here is Google’s official statement about this “status” of a Google Places page:

The data on Google is always changing as we update and add more listings and details to Google. From time to time, we may need to take some information offline as we update our algorithm. Please try checking your listing periodically when you see this message. You will eventually be able to see your listing display on Google if it does not violate our Google Places quality guidelines.

Well, I am going to let you in on a little secret: waiting DOES NOT help. There are many cases in which people have waited for months only to give up and start all over again because of this bug. And yes, that IS a bug and very, very rarely it is caused by manual taking of “some information offline”. Maybe the only true word in the statement above is that this error message usually appears during the infrequent monthly updates of the Google business clusters. The easiest way I’ve discovered to fix that is by making minor changes on your Place page data. By “minor” I mean some of the following:

- adding/removing/changing the description
- removing Areas Served (very often cause of troubles)
- adding/removing photo(s) or video(s)
- adding/removing additional detail(s)

“Minor” changes does not mean adding/removing/editing your business name, address or phone number. This is a big “no-no!”

B) Information on Google Places missing or not matching what you’ve input via your Dashboard:

As this is a really serious and widely spread problem, I’d break it up into a few subcategories:

1) Just the additional details missing:

No biggie here. As Google is trying to fight against the spam on Google Places, they have recently started holding off publishing the additional details information immediately after you create your listing. A few days/weeks should pass until it becomes visible to the public. Not much you could do, except going on with the optimization.

2) Some data being different from what you’ve input, but still relevant to your business:

This is due to “inconsistency of business data on the web”. Here is an example: “Bob Plumbing” had operated previously under the name “Bob & Co”, and changed their address a few months ago, but kept their phone number. Some weeks ago they created a Google Places listing with their new information. However, there was another listing on Google Maps with the old data. Later, Google noticed that and merged the two listings. Now all the information in the new, merged listing is correct, except the address, which is the old one. What you can do in such a case: reporting the problem will not help, or if it does, it will be temporarily and then the problem will reoccur. To fix this issue once and for all you will have to perform a search on Google and find all the websites, forums, etc, where your business is mentioned with the wrong/outdated information. Fix these entries by any means - manually editing them, by contacting the webmaster/website owner, etc. Then report the problem via your Place page and wait. Note that reporting frequently and from different accounts/locations DOES help, so if you have such a problem get your whole family reporting it and hope the Google Places employees will look into it soon. You can also report the problem in the Google Places Help Forum and if a Google employee or a Top Contributor sees it, you can expect a faster “salvation”. However, as I said this should not prevent you from updating your business information all around the web.

To be continued…

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