The complexities of YP listing management in the Google Age

I have often noted in the past how managing a business listing has gone from expensive to free but from simple to complicated. It used to be a simple matter of paying the Yellowpage salesman to correct this or change that. But now the path to getting it corrected is much, much more complicated. 

I get emails from around the world from small business people asking for help with Maps. I recently received this comment pleading for assistance in a previous post on How to change your Business Address in the Internet Age:

We have a listing on GoogleMaps (Jupiter Counseling), and the other day I visited it and there was a link someone not affiliated with us placed under our weblinks to the Qigong Institute, and she listed herself as being at our address and teaching Qigong and being a “Law of Attraction Counselor”, and we cannot get it removed.  The people at Google have been unwilling to help us, and they hang up on me, refusing to get me to a supervisor or technical support.  Anyone know what I can or should do?  This information is damaging to our business.  I can’t get an answer from anyone as to what to do.  Thank you.  Please send answer to amuseink@aol.com.

Here is the answer that I emailed him …
******
I think I found your listing (you neglected to give me a url or town):

A
175 Toney Penna DriveSuite 100JupiterFL? -(561) 575-0575?     

“Stillwater Institute, 175 Toney Penna Dr. Jupiter33410, 561-575-0575 soulhealing@bellsouth.net,Qigong Instructor, Law of Attraction Counselor qigonginstitute.org

Google scrapes the web and attempts to create “clusters” that describe your business. They use things like address, phone number and keyphrases on other websites to find as many web pages about your business as possible.

This QiGong Institute website has a business directory which Google puts some stock in as a source for business information for Maps. This directory lists a business (not yours) at your address:

That data from Sheila’s entry has been merged into your business “cluster” and used in your record as the snippet viewed with your primary Maps listing.

Your only choice to get rid of this information in your Google Maps listing is to contact the folks at the Qigong Institute and ask them to remove/correct the above listing. Once that is done it could take 3 months for Google to catch up with change but eventually the erroneous info in your Maps record will go away.

*****

Not only is the technology more complex and obscure, there are no obvious ways to get customer service at any price. Google’s only support option is posting in their online forums where the chance of running into a troll is higher than getting a straight answer.  I am sure that’s not how a small business person wants to spend their time. The Groups solution assumes that they can even find the Group. A few do, where they often don’t get an answer either because they can’t really describe the problem or nobody takes an interest in it. Occasionally they find their way here.

It is incredible that Google has elevated local to the front page. Many small businesses are benefiting from that exposure and often are not even aware. But it is time for a better solution to listing management.

I know that there are companies like Localeze, eLocallisting and UBL manage your listings at the major engines and IYP but those solutions do not speak to the underlying problem created by the new system. They are band aids to a solution that really needs an industry wide solution.

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
The complexities of YP listing management in the Google Age by

6 thoughts on “The complexities of YP listing management in the Google Age”

  1. Hey Mike,
    I’m home and luxuriating in catching up on all the news I’ve missed this past week or so. You’ve given a picture perfect example here of the pitfalls besetting business owners as a result of the prominence of the 10-pack, and the frustration Google’s remoteness is causing.

    I wish the Jupiter fellow luck. He’s got some work and waiting to do.

    Do you ever think we’ll see a lawsuit for misrepresentation and damages for this, Mike?
    Miriam

  2. I don’t have a good understanding of the legal issues but it sounds that there are few legal grounds for a SMB to stand on once they have agreed to the TOS.

    I don’t really know the legal issues and would love to have someone explain clearly what is what.

    Mike

  3. Mike, thank you for all your kind assistance. Qigong Institute webmaster was obliging by taking down the listing, but the change has yet to reflect on GoogleMaps. I don’t understand how this company can ethically and morally live with itself. I certainly could never do business the way Google does. They sure want to sell you their products, but they have absolutely no desire to honorable and help when their system causes the client damage. In my opinion, people should stay away from Google altogether and boycott the company until they stand up and make a change, and become a “client centered” company like we are at Jupiter Counseling (Jupiter, Florida). And like you, Mike. Thanks again for your help. You’re a stand up guy! Sincerely, David Goodman

  4. Hi David

    Updates to Google Maps takes 6-8 weeks AFTER Google has indexed the Qigong page and moved the page into their Maps Index. So it could be several months for you to see results.

    To me it is interesting that Google, the warm and fuzzy search engine is taking such a low cost, dam the torpedoes approach to Local. It sure generates immense ill will in the small business community and they (you, me and the others) are both users and potential purchasers of their services.

    Certainly, while Google is providing marketing returns businesses will continue to use them but like dealing with the old Yellow Page companies they will start to grimace every time they have to have an interaction with them.

    Whether that terrible customer service and reputation in servicing Local will begin to impact their greater reputation and image I don’t know. But it could very well.

    Local could be the next big bonanza for Google or it could be its Waterloo….interesting times indeed.

    Thanks for communicating your efforts back here. I would love to know when the page gets changed in the general index and when your record finally changes.

    Mike

  5. This is an all-too-common story, but we think that UBL has the solution through its new partnership with infoUSA – but it only works if the search sites agree to use it. We have not had much publicity around this, as few writers have tried to understand the implications of this new alliance. Here is what is new: UBL through the use of infoUSA Express update not only delivers to just about every search engine, online yellow pages, 411, GPS navigation device and telematics (e.g. OnStar) , but we do it from inside the database that the search engines use. The listings now go in the regular updates that adjust the data – and this is fast. More importantly, each listing gets assigned an IUSA number – for those unaware, this is a unique identifier that the sites use to connect listings with reviews or make sure changes are made to the right ones. These listings now go through an exacting verification and data-matching process. So if the search sites, that already use this identifier, were to simply loop back through the existing system to do a check on it, this hijhacking and listing spam would never happen. Giving user-generated data is a good thing – but not verifying it and giving it priority over checked information – serves nobody’s interests. Notably, UBL provides data to all search sites for free, including those not using infoUSA data, so it is universal. That is a solution, not a bandaid.

  6. Chris

    Thanks for you comments. In this case though it has little to do with the basic listing or even the reviews associated with the listing but Google’s scraping in an effort to understand even more about the business. In a sense they did capture correct information is it just outdated and even though they state a belief in open wiki like systems for Maps they do not give users or businesses the opportunity to correct this outdated information.

    Mike

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