LBC Workaround to ‘Flagged waiting for content check’ bug?

There has been a long standing “feature” in the Local Business Center where certain listings would be ‘Flagged waiting for content check’. There have been numerous inquiries into the support forums but often with no word from Google as to what the problem was or how to solve it. For example, one post started in August, had no comment from Google after 38 comments with some as recent as December.

Ken O’Connor of MapMyBusiness.com seems to have found a work around for the persistent bug and (dare I say) lack of customer support response to a recent post again reporting the problem:

Hi, regarding ‘Flagged waiting for content check’.

Sorry for the long reply, which first explains the problem, and then the process you must use to solve it.

I have successfully used this process for many clients. It has also worked for a number of members of this group.

THE PROBLEM:
1. Your listing will only be marked as ‘Flagged waiting for content check’ if it contains a word or term that Google does not like.
2. Google personnel do not appear to ever perform content checks – so YOU must correct the problem.
3. The offending word can appear anywhere in the listing. I have found and corrected instances within categories, the description box, business names etc.
4. I have found no pattern to the words or terms that cause problems so prepare to be ‘surprised’.
5. When you have removed the offending word or term, and RESUBMITTED, our listing will change to ‘Awaiting next update’. Unfortunately it can remain in this state indefinitely. However, when your listing
changes to ‘awaiting next update’, it means that you have removed the
offending word(s) or term(s).

THE SOLUTION:
Use the process below to correct your problem:
1. Take a copy of your current details (e.g. copy a screen shot into a word document).
2. Remove information ONE PIECE at a time, and RESUBMIT your listing to determine if you have located the offending item. e.g. Remove your description, then RESUBMIT to see if the status changes to ‘Awaiting next update’
3. When you have identified the offending word, or words, you may start to REENTER the information you removed. Be aware that there might be more than one offending word or term in your listing. When you have reentered all of your information, you can be confident that there are no prohibited terms in your listing.
5. You must now create a completely new version of your listing. Be careful – use the exact same terms that PASSED the content check.

When you validate your new listing, it should go active immediately I hope this works for you, Rgds Ken

I suspect that the workaround does in fact often succeed although I have not had a need to test it myself. I would love feedback from others that have success with it.

However, while the workaround does succeed, the cause might be different than Ken posits. We are unlikely to know without a chime in from Google or some more testing. It might be based on some database limit in addition to a limit on certain words.

In the past, there has been an error state incurred in the posting of an LBC record when field length or the total words in several fields exceeded some arbitrary database field or design limit. I suspect, but am not positive, that this might be the case here. That might explain the apparent randomness of Ken’s solution.

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
LBC Workaround to 'Flagged waiting for content check' bug? by

95 thoughts on “LBC Workaround to ‘Flagged waiting for content check’ bug?”

  1. Checkup of the data entered has always been madness. As if the code was written by monkeys. Descriptions not allowed because they contained too many points. G thinking it must have been a url and thus spam. Luckily it has impoved a bit.

  2. Excellent solution! Thanks for the suggestion. In my case I had same-sex partnerships in the description. As soon as I removed sex the problem was solved.

  3. Anton

    I would suggest that you try shortening the length of info in each of the fields and if you have a lot of supplemental fields get rid of some. Keep cutting back on quantity and see if that works.

    Mike

  4. Thanks very much for the solution.

    While the word ‘sex’ is an evident cause of censorship (see comment #2), be also careful of the word ‘black’ : I had the words ‘black bass’ in the description of a fishing location in France, and I had to remove it to change the status from “Waiting for content check” to “Awaiting next update”.

  5. It would be nice if Google would publish a list of “banned” words…. I also read that the words Hookah and google seem to trigger but black takes the cake and is certainly a stretch.

    Mike

  6. @Tim

    It is not known what the field limits are.

    Have you followed the instructions above? If you had, there should have been one field that was rejected. I would be curious to know what content it had and how long it was

  7. Thanks for getting back to me, Mike.

    Here’s my scenario:
    In early March I imported 59 restaurant locations from a spreadsheet (rather than one at a time) for one of my clients. They’ve all been ‘flagged’ except one, which went live a couple days ago. The listing that happened to go live is no different than any of my other listings except for the address information and a slight variation of the title. Everything else is the same (description, picture, categories, etc).

    In an effort to remove the flagged status, I took one of my listings that is marked as such, clicked to edit, then promptly clicked save. I did not change ANY information.

    When I did that, it changed the status from ‘flagged’ to ‘processing– content is being reviewed.’

    Regrettably, I do not buy Ken O’Connor’s theory just yet about what is going wrong, although I think he’s on the right track and I’m glad I found this page to help me out.

    One reason I think this is true is because I have had 2-3 listings that have had a status of ‘awaiting next update’ for well over a month now. Google states that it may take up to four weeks, but it’s been well over four.

    I’m also posting in the Google forums, hoping that an employee will read my question and get the ball rolling. We’ll see.

    Oh well, at least Google is more advanced than Y! Maps. You can’t even batch-import on Yahoo.

  8. March is not that long of a time in the Maps reality. Perhaps they really are being checked….

    1)Have you attempted to verify the records?

    2)Are the records using official phone numbers and are they “clean” records ie relatively accurate as compared to say infoUSA’s record of the same business?

    3)Have you tried eliminating fields wholesale in one of the records to see if it went through with significantly less info?

  9. 1.) It’s my understanding that when you upload listings in bulk there is no verification process, or perhaps someone at Google is doing the verifying. As opposed to last August, when I individually created four new listings, these locations received a post card and I verified. My bulk upload has never made any mention of a verification process.

    2.) The records are very clean, however, the one unique situation here is that every listing has the same phone number. This is the number for our “call center” where consumers can call to order food, give them their address, and then the order is dispatched to the corresponding restaurant for pick-up or delivery. Perhaps this is the hang-up. However, the phone number is obviously very crucial.

    3.) I have indeed tried eliminating entire fields, to no avail.

  10. Well I do think then that the phone number is the likely cause but I understand that there is a mechanism to verify bulk uploaded records. It would seem that would solve the problem.

  11. @Tim
    From the new Google LBC User Guide:

    About verifying and bulk listings

    If you want to verify a bulk listing, you’ll have to verify each listing individually. That means being able to receive a postcard mailer or phone call at the address or phone number you provide for each location. So, if you own a large business and would like to verify a number of smaller branches, you’ll have to verify each branch separately at their particular address and phone number, rather than at your business headquarters (unless, of course, this is the information you wish to appear in the listing for that branch).

    To verify a listing that was uploaded as part of a feed, you’ll need to claim it by clicking Edit > Claim your business in its info window on Google Maps.

  12. I have had the identical problem for over a year. The only reason I bothered was the fact that the default address location Google Maps displayed was not correct. Not only was the physical location incorrect but the CITY was incorrect. Consequently customers wasted their time trying to find us, got lost, angry, etc. etc.

    Sequence of events:
    • Went to Google Maps and “Claimed my Business.” Verified by phone and I was able to go to the Business Center and see the listing.
    • Changed the map pointer to the correct location and corrected the “City” entry. Nothing else was entered or changed. I received the spurious warning that I had moved the pointer over 200 yards and this would have to be confirmed by mail.
    • Thus began a repeated cycle – an infinite loop as it where – of waiting for PIN numbers, entering the PIN number, and then being FLAGGED, WAITING FOR CONTENT CHECK…..

    I have repeated this process: Deleted the existing map and profile information, again waited for the PIN number and confirmed, waited a couple of days and then revisited MAPS to “Claim my Business” again in order to post the correct location. Same result.

    Google’s failure to respond to these types of problems is difficult to forgive.

  13. Usually the flagged message is due to “inappropriate” content not location but I suppose that it could be the reason. Google has not really divulged all the circumstances in which that happens. If it is “inappropriate” content then you need to try the line by line removal of content to see if it can pass the filter.

    As for the location problem you need to give Google more external signals as to your actual and real location. This information comes to them from upstream data providers that cull it from all sorts of locations some online and some off.

    1)Put your actual location on your website on the Contact US page in the format
    Business Name
    Address
    City, ST Zip
    Phone

    2)Be sure that the phone books etc reflect that very same information. Be sure that any business filings, DBA’s etc reflect that very same information

    3)Make sure that the upstream data providers have current and accurate location information. InfoUSA and Localeze are the most important of those

    4)Consider listing with UniversalBusinessListing.org as they file with InfoUSA, Localeze & Axciom (the primary data collector of offline data)

    5)Go thru the primary secondary directories (superpages, insiderpages etc) that cover your area and make sure their online offerings are accurate

    6)Consider listing the correct address etc with the Better Business Bureau. It is expensive but Google trusts their information.

    7)List with other locally prominent websites and directories (Chamber of Commerce, etc)

    Good luck
    Mike

  14. Mike,
    Long time reader, first time commenter. I followed the instructions from Ken above and it worked. What was interesting is the apparent reason the listing was flagged was because we tried to put Google Analytics tracking tags in the web site address. Puzzling that Google LBC doesn’t play nice with GA. My hope, with the advent of new stats in the LBC, is that in the near future you can link your listing to a GA account so you have pre-click data in one place just like you get with AdWords.

    regards,
    Dave R

  15. Well thanks for commenting and letting me know the results that you had. Did you follow the guidelines that Martijn had laid out in his tracking search with Analytics piece?

    It is amazing that a smart company like Google’s has difficulty providing a meaningful error messages.

  16. Mike,
    Yep I’m familiar with what Martijn is advising. In this case I was lazy and just pasted the URL with the GA query parameters (Martijn’s first method). The 301 is what I really should have done but again I was lazy :). So what I found was you probably can’t use the first method (include GA query parameters) when setting up an initial listing. The parameters must throw the “flag” during the approval process. My guess is if I went into the LBC and made an edit to the URL now after approval, it would take it.

  17. Having just run into this problem for the first time and having worked through it, I think the problem is neither a matter of having banned words or too many characters. I think it is simply a bug in the code.

    The whole story is a bit too long to describe here but I’ve posted on it and linked back to this post which got me going in the right direction.

  18. @DavidW

    As I noted on your blog, Google is loose with their error messages and they often apply to multiple conditions.

    As you point out in your blog one possibility is a programming error. It would be interesting to see if there is some common thread that causes it to crop up.

    As the original poster noted, it can sometimes be in one field of the many fields and one field only and if that is removed it will go thru.

    There are cases clearly where the errror message refers to the use of all caps, sexually related terms or other words that are flagged.

    And finally as Dave R points out it doesn’t like certain URLs…..particularly those with Google in them. For example it even rejects urls from Google Sites (how weird is that?)

  19. I was having the exact same problem as you guys where my listing was being ‘Flagged’. I made 2 small changes to the listing and suddenly it said ‘Awaiting Next Update’. The two things that i changed were:

    In the address field i used to have it as 555 main street suite 7 and i added the number sign infront of the number 7.

    I also changed the name of the listing from the actual DBA back to the doctors name. The name of the listing was Oral Health Fitness Center, they possibly could have flagged the word oral?

    I am not 100% sure but that is what I did to make it work.

  20. My profile was on hold as well, once I removed “Google Local Business Listing Specialist” status changed to awaiting next update.

    Go figure……

  21. We know that Google flags the word Google in most fields in the LBC. Google even Flags urls that go to Google Sites web pages.

  22. Hi Mike,
    I have a serious problem listing my (legit!) locksmith business in NYC.
    i am aware of the problem with locksmith spammers in new york, but believe me , i am not one of them. i understand that the word ‘locksmith’ is banned and once i remove it my list will be approved.
    however, what value does my list have without containing the key word of my business, ‘Locksmith’??? i have tried to ask the same question in googl’e forums but no success yet…
    is there any solution that you think about? my listing is ‘flagged’ for more than three weeks now.
    or, do you have any idea what are the criteria that they do check during this ‘content check’? if they only check that my business is legal, i have no problem, but how long will it take them to actually do so?
    as i understand it by now, they probably don’t even bother checking it…
    I would really appreciate your help,
    Thanks in advance,
    Omer.

  23. @Omer

    Try not to waste your time on Google Maps. All Locksmith’ listings are been checked by Google (that’s the Flagged status). You can try using the word “Security” or something, but still- it’ll not generate any traffic..
    Try other Directories & forget about Google Maps for a while..
    Sorry for that.

  24. @Omer, Don’t give up on your listing, as PureSheer suggests, that is absurd advice.

    A few months ago I was contacted by one of the locksmiths currently in the top 10 for locksmith nyc. They couldn’t break into the top ten to save themselves at the time. With perseverance and some help they’re now in the 10 pack.

    What I learned from them is that being there is the difference between a ton of business and no business from Google so keep working at it.

  25. @ DavidW

    You are right. R&Ds should be done each day & hour. Your example is not that relevant here, because we Locksmiths are banned from Google Maps as for now, so it’s not an issue if to be in the 10 pack or not, it’s an issue of whether it is even possible to create a Locksmith listing in Google Maps..
    I’m still standing behind my suggestion to Omer- try to get your search volume from other Directories (but keep your R&D in Google Maps!- don’t let it go !!:-))

  26. DavidW and PureSheer, thanks for your responses.
    I believe that locksmiths are flagged as new listings, regardless of their actual credibility, as PureSheer noted.
    the real question is whether Google actually checks all these listings that are flagged, or do they simply ignore them. if they do, what can they check about it??? how do i make my business appear credible for them?
    looking at competitors’ profiles, i see no difference in key words than my profile… they also contain extensive use of keywords such as : Locksmith, Locks, Security etc’.

  27. Hi Mike .
    No luck I deleted everything but my name, I changed all the tags to their Tags (contractor kitchens) etc.

  28. Hi Mike

    The heading I have tried in different orders P.F.Gaudette Construction,
    Phillip Gaudette Construction PFG Construction etc I deleted all pics. Used my google email and web site ( which has been a new career on its own )lol.
    http://sites.google.com/site/phillipfgaudetteconstructionco/. Still Flagged.
    It would be nice to get up and running esp. in these $$ times.
    Best regards Phil

  29. Hi Mike

    Also I was wondering if having a cell # for main # could be a prob. I was varified by the cell#

  30. You may not believe this but your Google website that has the word “google” in it, is what is causing your flagged status. Google is aware of this “feature” but as of yet has not changed it

  31. Hi Mike!!!!!

    UNFREAKIN BEIIVABLE!!! First of all thank you for the help!!! I just took GOOGLE WEB SITE OUT and BINGO Awating next update. What happens next? Can I put site, Pics, Text, etc In at this point or wait? Mike do you work on Google sites at all?

    Best Regards Phil

  32. Hi Mike !!!
    First of all Thank you for your help!!

    I Removed google web site and BINGO , Awating next update.
    At this point would you advise to reinstall deleted text,Pics Google web site,etc. Also what happens next after awating status. Mike do you do any work on Google web sites or have any help topics listed?
    Best regards
    Phil

  33. Hi mike.

    I have tried to respond back to you a couple times but I didint see the post.
    Mike removing google web site was the answer. That is unbelivable. Do I need to be revarified, do to all the changes I made ? Also at this point (awating next update) am I able to reinstall all the info I removed or changed Pics, text, Google web site etc. to what it should be?
    Best rgards
    Phil

  34. @Phil
    It appears that my spam filter did no like your website URL either and thus your other messages were “tagged”.

    You should be able to add any and all information back to your record. Depending on what it is will dictate whether reverification is required.

    What do you mean do I work on Google sites?

    Just a note, leaving your website blank in the LBC carries additional hazards. That being that Google might arbitrarily assign the wrong website to your local listing. Minimally put in maps.google.com (that is acceptable) or better if you don’t have a website other than a Google Site than your landing page from Yelp or MC.

    Mike

  35. Hi Mike.
    It seems nothing can go in web address LOL I tried what you suggested and it flagged me. I set up another account in adjoining town went active instantly. Once you have awating next update, how long does it take to be active?
    I was wondering if you have helped in setting up google sites to become seen in google search?
    The analytics is giving stats other than that ,there is no sign of site when put into google search,
    Go figure, Here we are discussing analytics, and just two weeks ago I was looking for help to turn on a laptop LOL ( Could not have done it without your help !! Thanks Mike
    Phil

  36. I have never worked with google sites before and this “gotcha” in Local is a reason I am unlikely to go in that direction. Why would you want a site that can’t be listed in Maps if your business is Local?

    My preference is to build and design sites from scratch for clients so that a lot of retrofitting is not necessary but I have done optimization of standard HTML sites when it makes sense for the client and myself.

    A product like Advanced WEb Ranking can help you track your sites organic and local rankings.

    Are you saying that it doesn’t even accept maps.google.com? Hmm that is new.

  37. @ Mike
    I hear ya!
    It would be like a nice car was built (Googl Sites) with square wheels, no mechanics avalable, only a manual that only the experienced mechanic who does not exist can fix!!
    Mike are you the founder of RapidWeb?
    Phil

  38. @Phil

    Yes Rapidweb is an smb web development tool that we developed and use in most of our designs.

  39. well this made me laugh.. i found this site cos i was looking for an answer to the good old flagged, awaiting review…

    guess what fixed it for me?

    taking the word “erection” out of the title…..

    i am adding an entry for a scaffolding company….

    hehehe… well it made me laugh anyway

    trev

  40. Thank you for the information – yes it works – I had previously waited up to 7 weeks hoping that Google would do the content check – I had asked many times over the web for a solution but had missed this page.
    My map is now active – good advice.

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