Don’t Stop Believin’ (That Google Places Has Potential)

Google Places

Dear Google Places,
This isn’t working out. You’re unpredictable, inflexible, and sneaky, but lately, I find myself spending more time with you than ever. I can’t stand that you’re such an important fixture in my life, but to be honest, I’d be lost without you. I wish that you would stop going behind my back and giving me false information, but what can I do? You’ve made it impossible for me to break things off, and we both know I’d be forced to come back to you eventually. So I’ll remain optimistic and keep waiting, GP, because in time, I know you’ll change.

Sincerely,
Kristen

Will Google Places Ever Shape Up?

Personally, I’ve never been the type to stick out a bad relationship, so it pains me that Google’s issues remain unresolved. In theory, Google Places should provide accurate information to make it easier for people to call, click, or visit a specific location. Since owners or reps are able to verify the business listing and make edits, users should be able to find the most correct, up-to-date information.

Unfortunately, Google doesn’t seem to care that many owners or reps actually take the time to find, verify, and edit their listings. Many of our clients have gone to great lengths to maintain their local listings, but then their information gets changed without warning. We often give the bad news: anyone can change listings, including Google, customers, and even competitors. This can result in listings that are completely, utterly wrong.

Example of how Google Places often fails:

Pretend you’re Bob, the owner of Bob’s Pizza Shop. This morning, you discovered that someone changed your shop’s name on Google Places to Frank’s Taco Stand. It wasn’t totally irrational…Frank’s went out of business 2 years ago, but you bought the building. It’s okay though because you’ve claimed your listing.

So you log into your Places dashboard to change the name back to Bob’s Pizza Shop, but from your end the name is still correct. You can resubmit, but there’s no telling if that will matter. Cross your fingers and wait for a few days.

If that still doesn’t work, you might have to Report a Problem. Even if that does the trick, this won’t be the only time this happens. While you could ignore your listing, you may end up losing business.

There’s no denying that local search and Google Places have become much more important in recent months, but they also have a long way to go in terms of reliability and dependability. One step Google could take is to verify any 3rd party changes with the claimed listing’s owner. Or at least send “hey, we’re changing this” notifications so the setup doesn’t seem so secretive. After all, communication is key for any successful relationship.

We’ll keep you updated on future improvements, but are there any features you’d like to see for Google Places or local listing sites in general? Alternately, how about other bad blog post titles based on popular Journey songs?

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