Why the Google Local Business Center Fails

Update: Be sure to readthe related article at SEO Igloo Blog » The Local New Year’s Resolution I Wish Eric Schmidt Would Make by Miriam Ellis.

Google Maps is marching towards dominance in the mapping world and the Universal Local results often generate traffic and  sales for those businesses able to achieve Local 10 Pack Status. It offers the promise of a single resource where a business could turn to achieve local marketing success.

Yet in so many ways the Local Business Center continues to fail in its promise and the possibilities remain unfulfilled.  It is still bug ridden, the interface & process is hard for most people to learn, and it seems to be a poor step child in the pantheon of Google products. Despite its importance in the marketing plans for many bricks and mortar business the LBC receives little in the way of upgrades and less in the way of support.

I think that most small, medium and large businesses with a local presence could forgive the technology failings if at the end of the day, there was some way to reach a human and get an answer to the sticky problems that often arise. Most would gladly pay to have a consistent, helping hand while Google works out the technical problems with the Center. Many businesses have come to depend on Google in general and the Local Business Center in particular and Google as a whole seems incapable of living up to the responsibility.

Here is a posting in the Google Maps Help Group: How Do I that encapsulates many of the frustrations heaped on one poor fellow tasked with the job of getting his local business listing squared away:

1.  txxxxx@gmail.com   View profile  More options Jan 6, 3:07 pm

I hope someone from Google reads this & is able ot contact me…

I am having difficulty correcting a listing. The listing is for Jeffrey Specialty Equipment at 398 Woodruff Rd. Woodruff, SC 29388. This company is a subsidiary of the company I work for in NJ. (K-Tron International if you need ot verify that)

I originally asked for a “postcard” to be mailed to the SC address for a verification pin #. But since I am not located at that office, and no one at that location remembers seeing the postcard arrive, I requested a telephone verification.

I listed the SC office number, but for some reason the Google Pages said “the call was unsuccessful”. So I thought I’d put my own office number as the contact & have Google call me to verify. It would not… It would only allow me to get another postcard.

I’m actually at deadline for revising this listing. The company shown merged with another on 1/1/09 and the listing MUST show the corrected name according to our Sarbanes Oxley regulations.

I called Google and asked for someone familiar with “Local Business Listings” and was told they do not offer support. At all. (?!!!) So does ANYONE have an idea how I can get this fixed or if there is actually a human being at Google that I could speak with?

They will not send a postcard to my NJ office for a SC location. They will not call a NJ phone for a SC location. They will not allow me ot change the listing until they verify, but when they tried to call it was unsuccesful and I don’t know why. (the number is correct) I’m at a total loss… and quite frustrated. Please…

Google needs to understand that Local is different than Search, that accuracy is more important than relevance, and they need to embrace the business listing side of Maps if for no other reason than these folks are the future growth of Adwords. If it takes charging a monthly fee to have the resources to service this side of the business then so be it.

But the argument goes beyond mere business possibilities as Google becomes the repository for all of the world’s data. Google needs to recognize that real people’s lives are continually affected and that obligates Google beyond just good business practice.

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Why the Google Local Business Center Fails by

60 thoughts on “Why the Google Local Business Center Fails”

  1. I don’t believe that its a matter of Local over organic search. It is a matter of Google wanting to give users what they want and in doing so, hopefully getting more click thrus on ads.

    Google’s goal is to organize all of the world’s information. They present information on the main search page that they think people are looking for. They then test the results to be sure that the results are what people want and if they are not, they change them.

    So we can only assume that when someone types “Restaurant, Olean” in Google and Google returns the 10 Pack at the top that searchers respond positively to that.

    Google obviously receives several benefits:
    1)It keeps searchers happy
    2)It makes businesses that are shown happy
    3)It provides a path for SMBs to move from the LBC into adwords.

    Adwords growth will ultimately come from this market.

    As to whether I know the reason for its creation….no, I have no special insight into Google in this matter.

  2. Thanks Mike. I agree all that you have said..

    … with the exception of “It makes businesses that are shown happy”…. The LBC glitches and spam do the opposite. They cause frustration, stress, and a huge distraction from productive business activities for a very large number of small businesses.

    … my words of wisdom to all that have been spammed and are not insured against legal expenses is to threaten legal action and state that if you have to pay the £500 for a solicitors warning letter, you will pursue this expense and escilate proceedings through the small claims court instead…. this way it costs very little :)

  3. Mike, I love you for always bringing out the issues that small business owners are facing in this day and age of SEO and IYP advertising! You are awesome! It’s such a complicated issue that drives us all crazy, but you always help us sort it all out, thank you!

  4. I would beg to differ in that google has fixed it issues with there local business listings.I believe google is growing far beyond what it thought it would in its local business listings with the IPHONE using there search engine.

    I own a mobile auto repair business and have had my listing poof into thin air 3 times in a 4 week period. My business listing accounts for about 40% of my cash flow and every minute its down i loose out.
    I have been able to get 1 google employee to help out and get the listing back up, but she could not tell me why it went poof?

    As well i have had issues with other business’s posting bogus reviews with no ability to contest them.There is a clear path to follow back to the business bashing mine.I am considering using adwords but am affraid, yes i said it , affraid the same thing will happen with down time.

    Alot of my business is late night eraly morning , when google does its down time for fixes and such which it happens to be when the listing has been down all 3 times.Should i invest into adwords?Will it have the same issues?No one has been able to guarantee me this.

    WHELP!!!

  5. after i posted i read a few above mine.

    Google has a the market share here in the US.No one uses the yellow pages we have delivered every year,there door stops.
    My business is a little different, i advertise on craigslist and have free business listing with every search engine i can.
    I own a mobile auto repair business, alot of my customers come from 1411 information services and people searching “roadside assistance or roadside service”" on there smart phone.
    With google going thru its growing pains it is costing me greatly.What would you do in my place, i have posted aver and again in the LBC forums about my issues with little help.
    I do have regular customers that i service there fleet vehicles but as the economy slows so do the miles on there vehicles.Google is my fall back cash sourch.

  6. I have read the multiple problems with google only listing one category with the local business search, so i shortened the list to 3 hoping this will solve the issue.
    Google needs to just go ahead and charge for local business listing, this would bring the ability to weed out bogus listings and bring accountability.
    I would think a yearly fee for the listing and maby a second for tech support,this would bring the cash flow to support the new area and make it run better by ensuring this department runs at top level.
    If the department doesnt want to answer calls all day long they will make sure there jobs are done correctly.
    I would be the first to pay if it makes sure my business listing stays up.I dont care about the crying of this would make Google seem like they are on one business side or the next company.If you have a business you expect to have to put money to advertise.
    I want Google to charge me for my add, please just get the darn ball rolling on what we all know needs to be done, PLEASE.

  7. Mike

    I feel the same way you do. I handle listings for our law firm. We have 35 offices in 3 states and only practice one type of law. Our firm has been around since 1983 and we are far and away the largest firm in our area doing what we do, without question. I have had so much trouble trying to get obsolete, incorrect data off google with no help from Google. It seems they’ll take any info someone will give them and post it, but they act like it’s impossible to take it off. This, like you say is affecting people’s businesses. Some are receiving an artificial benefit while others are being shackled by an artificial handcuff. In the industry of law too, is it really good business do not do the research to suggest the firms that do the best job rather than firms who are more web savvy and don’t have so much old data to flush out to optimize? The way things are now, a tightly coded web page from some one who just got their bar number yesterday could place ahead of a veteran firm without such a grasp on the technology….or with decades of aggregate information still being passed around by these information monger companies….which is a whole other issue that’s equally as frustrating as this google nonsense. It just doesn’t come across as legitimate to me.

    I think we all need to do what we can to help Bing get to the point where it keeps Google honest. We need to remember the old adage that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

    And I too think that google should at least be able to show what you violated rather than send you to a page that provides no assistance.

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