Google Maps and the wrong URL

There has been a large uptick in reports in the Google Maps for Business Groups of wrong URL’s being assigned to a business listing in Google Maps and the Local Ten Packs. These reports often speak of nefarious competitors, hijacked listings or lost business.

I have written about this problem in the “archeological” past (here and here) and noted that this assignment of URL’s was an artifact of an over aggressive Google algorithm.

However, the posts in the group and inquiries from peers had become so numerous that I inquired of a Google whether there had been a recent change in the algo or whether just more people were noticing. The response was, that more folks are noticing.

We are experiencing a new wave of newly (and poorly) educated business owners who are taking note of the value of Maps but are clueless as to how to handle this and other “features” of Google Maps. So this post is directed to them (if they make it this far in their quest).

1-Take control of your listing in the Local Business Center

2- DO NOT  leave the URL field blank even if you do not have a web site

3- Either enter the URL for your business profile from another local site that has good details or create a profile page at one of the free web site sites and use its URL.

4- If you feel uncomfortable doing the above then put http://maps.google.com into the Local Business Center until you have either created a new website or taken step 3 above

Allowing Google to automatically assign a URL to your business listing is roughly akin to the oxymoron of allowing the Commander in Chief to be in charge of Military Intelligence. A we have learned, neither has worked very well.

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Google Maps and the wrong URL by

14 thoughts on “Google Maps and the wrong URL”

  1. Great post Mike. This was an important discussion that the audience had with MapsGuideJen during the Q&A at one of the sessions of SMX Local that I was not sure was ‘on the record’ so I didn’t want to include it in my recap. I’m glad that someone else thought it was public enough to share.

  2. A-ha, so a good alternative title to this post might have been:

    Claim your listing and use a URL whether you’ve got a website or not!!!

    That’s really valuable advice, Mike.

    Of course, my additional advice to the business owner would be –

    Get with it, man. Where’s your website?

    :)
    Miriam

  3. Hi Miriam

    Well in my case that I wrote about, I just forgot to put it in and when my client got an Authoritative OneBox it had a competitor’s URL in it…ooops…

    Well in the research, remember that only 10% of the top 20 plumbers in Utica had a site. And if everybody had a website, you and I would have to find a new job. :)

    Mike

  4. Mike:

    When I had other data migrating into my phone number box, and URL box I had done all of the above things you insinuate business owners are failing to do.

    What I propose is occurring, is that Google looks at other sites like Superpages, or a blog that has multiple phone numbers and addresses to different businesses that may be similar. Perhaps a blog list of lawyers in LA.

    Google misinterprets the third party data, and replaces the author, or business owner’s data with that third party data, because Maps assumes is more reliable. And Maps considers Superpages and Martindale Hubble reliable, based upon the many listings on those servers and data providers popping up for Los Angeles Injury Attorneys.

    You can see that Maps likes data from Martindale sites.

    In other words, my theory is at least in part, that Maps is changing the data entered by the business owner and switching out data. Of course I realize I really don’t know anything and am not a patrician in this Maps world, the small lawyer sector wished to express its theory and see if you think it holds water.

  5. @panzer

    The short answer to your theory is: Bollocks. The long answer is below.

    There are a number of scenarios that occur with Google Maps that lead to “bad” data showing up in Maps and the main Google Results.

    One is the situation that I describe above and it occurs mostly with Business Records that have not been claimed or have not entered their URL in the Local Business Center.

    There is another situation of data merging that seems to occur when two records get conflated for some reason. The underlying LBC record is OK but perhaps because of confusing signals, Google mixes two businesses up.

    The third known scenario is erroneous data in the Plus Box. The Plus Box and the Local Business Center are totally distinct in Google’s world and even if the LBC record is totally clean, Google may have scraped old information from across the web and assigned it to the organic search result.

    The fourth situation is when the LBC record and the OneBox records don’t match. This is usually due to the unusually long delay that occurs between when an LBC record is updated and when the main Google index picks up that new information. It could be upwards of 3 months on occasion.

    I haven’t been able to verify more explainable instances from the examples that I have looked at. Google Maps is however a huge universe with lots of “features” so I am sure that there are cases that I have missed.

    Mike

  6. Wow..Bollocks and conflated in the same blog post, you have a little Mark Twain in you, ah the turn of a phrase. I don’t know when the last time you read Tom Sawyer, recently I just revisited ii and it’s a joy.

  7. I am just amazed that Google allows for you to claim someone elses listing in the first place. We have not had it happen to any of our clients thanks goodness for that! Good advice on what to do if you help get someone listed who doesn’t have a domain.

  8. @Scottsdale
    Google doesn’t allow you to claim someone else’s listing without verifying via post card to the original address or via a phone call to the original phone number….you can however edit or add to a listing that has not yet been claimed. usually these cases of wrong URL are a result of Google adding the URL to an unclaimed listing.

    Mike

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