Google Maps: LBC broken and more

This posting from yesterday’s Google Maps Business Owners Group was of interest to me.

The Local Business Center has been broken for several weeks, preventing many business owners from updating listings. There have been numerous reports in the Groups of this problem.

As noted in the comment, when a business attempts to update an LBC record, the following message is frequently recieved:

System Error
We’re sorry, but we are unable to serve your request at this time.

Google acknowledged the error on October 1 and it was reported of and on since late August. Google has not identified a timeframe for its repair.

TOPIC: Unable to list my listings on google map.

== 1 of 1 ==
Date: Sat, Oct 11 2008 2:46 am
From: “”

Hello, I am a freelancer from india and working from home. I currently
got job for adding 1400 google business listings of uk restaurants and
each listings needs to be added under individual google account. The
verification method i have to choose is verification by post card. So
that those individual restaurants can receive confirmation pin code at
their end and they can login to google with their account and can
confirm their listing.

I am able to create 10 listings until now under 10 individual
accounts, but now i am not able to add more listings, I am receiving
below mentioned error.

“System Error
We’re sorry, but we are unable to serve your request at this time.
Please try back in a few minutes.”

But this error doesn’t shows when i login from my personal account to
check same if also i am getting the same error.!

I know i am not spamming google, its the genuine work which i am
doing. Those people in foreign doesn’t have time for such tasks and
thus they had hired me.

Any help on this issue is very much expected and welcome!

The Indian subcontractor aspect of the post also intrigues me. Think locally, but act globally appears to be the new motto for Map data entry. It is an interesting development that low cost Indian workers are getting involved in Maps and that companies are choosing this route versus the bulk upload choice. It indicates to me that, as it is currently designed, the bulk upload option is not perceived as functional enough. For example, listings entered that way can still be modified via community edits (in the US) and often do not have the authority of a manually entered and verified record. I am quite sure that WalMart doesn’t want their listing fiddled with.

This posting is an interesting contrast to my earlier post about an Indian IT firm that outsourced local US mapspam to-itself.

It clearly demonstrates the growing perception of value of having a Local OneBox listing. I wonder how much it costs to have a sub contractor on the sub continent of India, enter these records manually. Can anyone enlighten me?

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Google Maps: LBC broken and more by

18 thoughts on “Google Maps: LBC broken and more”

  1. Mike,

    Pure data entry will cost you anywhere from $3-10 / hour depending on location, language skills and quality (I can’t overemphasize the value of paying for quality). You might pay less but I’d be concerned about the quality.

    One thing I find heartening about this post is the use of postcards. This would indicate to me the intent is honorable (rather than just hijacking listings).

    I’m surprised they’re not using the bulk upload. I know it’s perceived to have less authority for validation but still surprised.

    We’ve learned that very rigorous QA onshore is a must when working with offshore teams.

    Ultimately they’re still beholden to the triple constraint: time, quality, cost — pick 2.


  2. Hi Will

    I perceived the above as “honorable” as well. I assume at the Indian end they are doing piece work, not hourly? So how long would it take for the 1400 or what would the cost per record be?

    I just updated my post to indicate why they might not want to use the bulk upload…it is susceptible to community edit hijacks unless they are validated… not a very appealing option.

    Thanks for the insight.


  3. Mike,

    If we presume the actual task is:

    Set up a Google account
    Build the basic listing
    Presumes someone else provides the structured data

    I would think one could do 3 – 5 an hour. I’m always optimistic (aggressive some say) with my task estimation so let’s take the low side and say 3.

    Add overhead and it’s a $5.00 / unit process. If you sourced it directly to a single contractor working from home evenings and weekends you might get it done for $1-2 per listing but then you have some real accountability challenges.

    This begs another question. If you have a 1400 business list to push in, why not spend that same energy trying to get qualified as a trusted feed?

    Does the trusted feed have the same challenges as the bulk upload?

    Do you know anything about how one gets qualified as a trusted feed provider? McStud? any insights?


  4. I have heard that Google is “working on” some sort of trusted agency arrangement but that it is still not a formal program.

    But the whole area is not something that I have any knowledge of/ familiarity with. We need Steve.


  5. Google is still working on a letter of agency for the bulk upload which will allow people to bulk upload and have the same authority as a manual entry into the LBC.

    They have been working on it for quite sometime. My suggestion is bulk upload then select pin verification when they get added to the LBC to avoid wasted time in data entry.

  6. maybe Google could subcontract that to people from India so it will be finished next week and we don’t have to deal with this mess any longer…

  7. Hi Jim

    Yes, I remember now that Jen acknowledged the error. I have corrected the article above.

    It would be great if its gone! Anyone is it working now?


  8. What I find amazing about this post is that someone has obviously managed to start some type of program wherein 1400 UK restaurants are about to have LBC listings. That’s a lot of businesses! Wonder who is doing this.

    Like you and Will, I see the intention is honorable here, primarily because of the postcards, but am dubious about the evident outsourcing of something like this where one would assume language skills are of high importance. Maybe not, though…a lot of the LBC information involves clicking boxes, not really writing copy. Still, I find that a little concerning.


  9. @Miriam

    As Will points out quality control is of the essence in these types of arrangements.

    It will make for interesting Maps results to see what happens when the copywriting gets outsourced and combines the less than stellar English of some offshore workers with a restaurant listing for McDonald’s. 🙂


  10. @Miriam,

    Perhaps I was projecting from my own experience. I presumed that the language dependent elements would be done by native speakers and that the offshore component would be all about data entry.


    There’s definitely something to be said for cultural context.


  11. Mmm…reminds me of projects we’ve turned down for companies selling pig ears and jerky and other things that….well…we just couldn’t bring ourselves to promote.


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