Yesterday, Google Maps rolled out a new Local Business Center User Guide. The guide has more specific details about the listing process, the meaning of various messages and an improved interface to the information.
The LBC User Guide is a definite improvement over the previous help system and may ameliorate some of the business listing problems it will not solve some of the more common questions and many of the edge situations that seem to occur.
The two most common questions that seem to occur as part of the process are related to the status situations of “Awaiting Next Update” and “Flagged Waiting for Content Check”.
The “Awaiting Next Update” still remains confusing as apparently the message means different things depending on whether the listings was individually or bulked uploaded and the instructions are ambiguous about whether something has gone wrong or not:
The means that your listing is verified and has passed our content check, but it is awaiting our next data push. It should be live within two weeks, but may take up to four.
If your listing has been ‘Awaiting Next Update’ for over a month, we recommend verifying this listing manually by phone or PIN Mailer (note that you can only verify an individual listing, not one that you’ve submitted as part of a bulk feed).
If you uploaded a a bulk listing, it could be that there was no information in it that isn’t already on Google Maps. If this is the case, then we don’t add the bulk feed to our index.
This problem would be solved for the individual listing by providing a direct Maps link to check if your listing had gone live and/or a direct notification via email like Yahoo when it goes live.
As for the message with bulk uploads it seems that the message shows when not appropriate. If Google didn’t add the information uploaded shouldn’t it say so instead of saying “Awaiting next Update”.
The “Flagged Waiting for Content Check” is even more problematic in that Google notes “it has been selected for additional review before it can appear on Google Maps” but Google makes no mention of if or when that might happen. Experience in the Groups indicates that could be what seems like never. Again, if it truly is going to be looked at, why not indicate when. If there is a problem that could be solved by the user like removing a certain word, why not so indicate?
The Guide also includes some confusing and apparently contradictory information about the ability to verify bulk uploaded listings. Here it notes: “(note that you can only verify an individual listing, not one that you’ve submitted as part of a bulk feed)”. While on this page it indicates that “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”.
There are a number of edge cases, like what to do when you can’t verify and old listing, or how to get the phone verify system reset that it doesn’t cover at all.
Fianally, the Guide does not deal at all with the relationships between organic search, Maps, the Plus Box and the Local Universal results that seems to be the basis of so many questions by users in the Maps Help Forums.
The Guide is a step in the right direction, is well organized and provides additional useful information. That being said, Google needs to “step it up” to bring the LBC into the realm of usable by the small business person it is intended to serve.