Is Your Business Listing Showing Well in Local Search Results?

by on September 7, 2011

Is your business listing not showing well in local search results, caused by errors in your Google Place Page? If so, you are not alone, according to a recent New York Times article:

In recent months, plenty of perfectly healthy businesses across the country have expired — sometimes for hours, other times for weeks — though only in the online realm cataloged and curated by Google. The reason is that it is surprisingly easy to report a business as closed in Google Places, the search giant’s version of the local Yellow Pages. 

A business in Hawaii and Kansas are reported as mistakenly being ‘permanently closed’, according to their Place Page, formerly a Google map listing. The business owners were frustrated because Google would not fix the error. These businesses are now shown as open for business, but according to the same New York Times article, the same trick was played on Google’s own company listing:

On Aug. 15, Mr. Blumenthal posted a screen shot of Google’s Places page “reportedly closed,” noting that it took just two people — him and a friend — to pull off this stunt. It seemed to get the company’s attention. At least one change to closings on Places has already been made. Since late August, a business that is newly tagged “permanently closed,” receives an alert via e-mail from Google, informing the business owner of the change.

I noticed that one of the businesses is still at risk, as of September 6, 2011, because its Place Page is not claimed by the owner, meaning that Google does not know how to send the owner a warning email message, if it again becomes ‘permanently closed’. An owner needs to claim their Place Page so that Google has an email address for the business.

In the article’s reader comments, other complaints are raised by business about errors in their Place Pages, some justifiable and others caused by a lack of knowledge about how to create a quality page and Google’s terms of service.

A dentist, my client, was not receiving the rankings he deserved in local search results because his practice had duplicate Place Pages. The only way to notify Google is through the ‘Report a Problem’ link on the offending Place Page, but these notifications can take weeks or months to be resolved.

In this dentist’s case, we notified Google four times over 4 months, and the duplicate page was still not removed. As a result, his claimed Place Page was ignored while the duplicate page was buried deep in local search results. Google’s customer service responded to the first three requests by updating information within the duplicate page, but ignoring our request to remove it. In the meanwhile, the dentist was overlooked by potential patients who searching in his vicinity.

Advice for Business Owners

Claim your Place Page and read Google’s quality recommendations and terms of service; be patient and followup with issues as needed. For optimal leverage, hire someone with local internet marketing experience.

Advice for Google

Provide business owners access to a short questionnaire that filters customer service requests so that your company better determine who is not being well served through regular channels; offer Internet marketing specialists a process to elevate requests that are misunderstood by your customer service staff.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Paul Breslau April 21, 2012 at 3:43 PM

My Local listing is only 88% and I can’t see what is missing to get to 100%. Also, if operating a home based business is there a way to suppress the street address and still benefit from Local Search Results?

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Mary Brophy April 26, 2012 at 9:30 PM

Paul,

Yes, there is a way to suppress your business’s street address from Google local search results. After logging in to your Google Place page, look for “Service Areas and Location Settings”, and then select the option stating that customers are served at their location. Next, choose “Do not show my business address on my Maps listing.”

As of today, you have suppressed your local listing address, however, I noticed a second listing showing your street address. This is a special situation, and to answer it I need a little more information.

Regarding your question about 88% completion, this also requires more information. I know we will be talking soon, so let’s discuss it at our meeting.

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