The only guarantee against having a business listing hijacked in Google Maps has been for a listing owner to control their listing in the Local Business Center. The only way to be ranked well in Maps is for that same business to control their listing in the Local Business Center. The many blogs covering local have said time and again, take control of the listing in the Local Business Center.
It is a message that makes sense given how Google has designed the system. It is a message from Google that is clear and which Google keeps repeating. Yet I fear that we and Google are preaching to the converted.
Even businesses that want to take control of their listing and are motivated to do so are often stymied. Prior to last week’s hijacking debacle I was corresponding with a locksmith who contended that his listing had been hijacked.
I was trying to document the locksmith’s situation so I made repeated efforts attempting to get him to confirm to me that he had claimed his record in the LBC. I was unable to do so. He just didn’t get what I was asking him, no matter how many ways and times I asked. In his mind he had claimed the record but he could not tell me exactly how or where. I came away convinced that he simply edited is record using Google’s end user edit capability and returned to it regularly to correct any nefarious edits.
This posting in Google Groups confirmed my suspicions that many, motivated business owners are completely incapable of making their way into the Local Business Center (even when they think they have):
TOPIC: Incorrect information on business listing
== 1 of 1 ==
Date: Tues, Sep 16 2008 3:44 pm
From: Maps Guide Jen
It looks like you’ve created a new listing through the community edits feature on Google Maps. It looks like you’d created a number of listings for the same business in your account. I would recommend resuming their display on Maps, and then removing all the “extra” ones from your account by deleting them. If you want to have true ownership of the listing and lock it from other edits, you’ll want to go through the Local Business Center. Hope this helps.
On Aug 29, 4:32 pm, rsp <i…@readysetplaytx.com> wrote:
My information is correct in the Local Business Center. I have logged in and verified all information several times. However, when I do a search, the search result for Google Maps has an incorrect phone number. Where is this number coming from if it’s not in my Local Business Center account? How can I get this correct? How long will it take to correct? I’ve got some very frustrated customers who keep calling the wrong number.
[Bold added by me]
What do I take away from this?
• Minimally, it will be many a long year for the 12 million or so businesses in this country to take control of their listings.
• It is still way too hard to do so. Google needs to commit programming and marketing resources to make it happen.
• If the only security guarantee against having your record hijacked is taking control of it in the LBC, we are just seeing the beginning of a plague of hijackings.
• Any security system that relies on 12 million users to take action to secure the system is a flawed system. I hope that Google can up with something better than that or they are going need 20,000 Map Guide Jen’s on staff (which if it weren’t for the payroll implications, would not be such a bad thing 🙂 ).