Google Maps adds new Local Business Center User Guide

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.

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Google Maps adds new Local Business Center User Guide by

17 thoughts on “Google Maps adds new Local Business Center User Guide”

  1. A small step forward. Hopefully they will smoothen (or better, remove) the glitches that are still there and this will be a happier and friendlier world ;-)

  2. Yes it is a step forward, hopefully it will be built out and become more useful and better integrated with both the posting and help process.

    For a digital company that deals in the unambiguous 0s and 1s, Google often deals in ambiguity when trying to communicate in English.

    Mike

  3. @Mike: lol on the ones and zeros. I see so many spammers who never get touched after multiple reports, I can see how these rules are ambiguous in many instances.

    I mean, it is easy to simply assume that it is not spam, when others do spam in many instances. Some things like multiple businesses for same address and keyword stuffing the title are obviously intentional spamming.

    But others, such as placing the floor of a building in front of the business address, instead of at the end, are not.

    I have seen at least one business that was banned from Maps do exactly this, and with a new url and phone number, are right back into the three packs.

    I feel bad for the Maps Team. Sometimes engineer/math types think things are unambiguous. Maybe to them, but not to morons like me with law degrees.

  4. Mike – this is a bit off topic, but continuing on the topic of the new non-geo local results. Barry Welford wrote a good post covering the trouble he is encountering using google.ca: http://blog.cre8asite.net/bwelford/2009/04/google-may-not-find-local-restaurants-in-canada/

    Thought you’d like to check that out.

    As always, it’s good to see signs of life in the LBC, letting us know that it has not been entirely abandoned to spurious locksmiths and phony florists :) I’m glad Google is making efforts to start to outline their position. Thanks for blogging about this.

  5. Hi Mike – As a contributor to the User Guide, this feedback is really helpful. We’ve already corrected the inconsistency you pointed out regarding verification, and using the feedback we’ve gathered to make improvements to the guide is going to be an ongoing process. So, many thanks!

  6. So to be clear on the bulk uploads…If we have multiple clients (20 – 100) that want to be included in Google Local are we ok to use the bulk upload within one account? Is there a limit that one account can upload?

    I’m also assuming that we can notify our clients once their business is showing up and then help them in the process of verifying their business?

    Is this the easiest method in doing this, or is there an easier way?

    Thanks for the excellent information!

    BJ

  7. @BJ

    Again, I am not expert in bulk uploads. However in the forums it indicates that bulk uploads could take forever to get approved.

    If that were the case, and you are going to help the client claim their record anyways on a one on one basis, why do the bulk upload? Use remote control software (Teamviewer or the like), take control of their computer and jointly create an account and claim the record in Maps.

  8. What ho!

    I encountered a problem during the individual upload process with the verification process, in that I have a uk 0844 number, which costs 5ppm to call. The phone verification process does therefore not work.

    I have over 400 approved clinics throughout the UK to approve, so obviously the bulk upload service is the way to go, BUT will I have to verify with the bulk upload process too? Unfortunately mail verification is not an option for me due to contract issues. Can I just put a web address?

  9. thanks for the great info.

    google maps have driven me crazy! this worth while info and a step in the right direction.

    Thanks

    Ray

  10. Great info, I just learned about Google LBC about two months ago, call me green. I put up an ad and and it is in the E spot on Maps. I found I had no control of edits, had no access.

    I went to the Add new listing filled out the form with same info for my listing, and it found me and asked me if the business it found was me with a claim it button, now I have access. I added a video to the new listing when I was trying to gain access to the old listing, I submitted the listing no update. Must the old listing be deleted before the new one is updated and will this change the rank placement. Also when you click the flag on maps for my listing, there is info there from a blog from another source, not my business info.

    This is why I needed to gain access to my listing to start with. I read on a forum that once you claim it any info not put there by you is cleaned up. Please help, I don’t want to lose my no 4# spot because someone else claimed it first.

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