Google Maps users lost on their way to the Local Business Center

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

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== 1 of 1 ==
Date: Tues, Sep 16 2008 3:44 pm
From: Maps Guide Jen

Hi Laura,

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.

Cheers,
Jen

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.

Laura

[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 :) ).

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Google Maps users lost on their way to the Local Business Center by

18 thoughts on “Google Maps users lost on their way to the Local Business Center”

  1. Any thoughts on how to help a business be added as a “point of interest” on Google & Yahoo maps? Is it all controlled in the same LBC area and incorporating the relevant categories?

  2. Mike: Hiring 20,000 people to handle the problem is a great idea. It will help cope with the rising rate of unemployment.

    Oh oh…..the payroll problem. Didn’t think of that. Sorry. Bad idea!! ;)

  3. @ Sharon

    Not sure what you mean when you say “point of interest” on Google maps….one way is by adding things via MyMaps…another might be via Panoramio….but I am not sure we are talking about the same thing

    @Dave
    Well maybe they could get by with only 1000 Map Guide Jen’s as a compromise, she’s pretty good :)

    Mike

  4. @Miriam

    Before you do we need to plan a googlebomb around the appropriate search phrases so these folks actually find it when they are looking. :)

    Mike

  5. all very good excuses. But from my perspective, that big fat post just wouldn’t do the trick.

    It needs to be much bigger and fatter. Google needs to put a great big Post-It in the main serp’s that says CLICK HERE TO CLAIM YOUR BUSINESS (quick before its hijacked).

    It really needs Google to market the heck out of it to broaden the reach so folks aren’t stumbling around.

    Mike

  6. There’s an irony to this hijacking / claiming your business listing. My client has been updating their YP listing with YellowBook, and Yellowbook is kindly helping them set up the Google local listing… so i guess that means YellowBook has now hijacked the google local listing? Is that why I can’t set up the client’s listing now???

  7. @Margrit

    Have you attempted to reclaim the listing in your Local Business Center? It should let you claim via the claim this listing link in Maps and then you would just need to verify via phone or more likely post card.

    Mike

  8. Yes, I’ve been trying periodically over the last week or so. But after logging in to the Google account I created for my client, I keep getting this message, “System Error. We’re sorry, but we are unable to serve your request at this time. Please try back in a few minutes.” I’ve looked all over the Google LBC forums and found several others who are having the same problem, but no solution. I don’t know if there’s a connection between the YB listing and the error message. If anyone reading this blog has an answer, I’d love to hear it.

  9. That message was appearing with some frequency last week and it appeared to me to be a system error. However, one writer reported that it was due to having too much content in the attributes fields….either too many fields or too much data in those fields and if you reduced that you would be ok…I have not seen confirmation of that nor have I seen the problem myself

    Mike

  10. Well, I have no idea what’s in what fields, as I’m not able to get into it to see anything. Basically, the system error shuts me out entirely. Incidentally, this client is a florist. I’m not having problems with my other client accounts.

  11. There have been a growing number of complaints in the group. Like I said, it appears to be a system wide issue on certain listings. The only suggestion I have is to check back into the account in a week and see if it has corrected, otherwise the only choice is to post in the Group and pray that a Googler takes pity on you.

    Mike

  12. “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. ”

    Claim your business listing and I will take control of it.

    I am the original web master to the locksmith that actually started this all. I never got back to you because I was busy looking into this.
    I’m ready now.

    Claim it Verify it…control it from your local business center…I will try my best to steal it….I don’t think it will be very difficult.

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