Google Places Webinar Follow-up

Google Maps has started providing webinars as a means to educate more SMBs about the benefits and features of Google Places. Not much new here but note Google’s clear cut answer about call tracking numbers. Here is a summary of the May 10th webinar:

From: Brianna Brekke <maps.guide9@google.com>

Date: May 17, 2010 4:50:51 PM EDT

To: Maps Guide Brianna <maps.guide9@google.com>

Subject: Google Places Webinar follow-up

Hi folks,

Thanks for attending the Google Places webinar on May 10. As promised, here are some resources below.

Best,

Brianna

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Google Places webinar recording

Plage Page Tour

Short Survey – please take!

Q&A Session for Google Places Webinar

Date: 2010-5-10

Starting time: 10:00a

_______________________________________________________

Andrew N.

Q: Will Google ever offer an API? It would be helpful for agencies managing several thousand locations to pull reporting information, post to place page for several locations and manage locations across different brands.

A: We’re always working on new features and updates to Google Places, but are unable to comment on exact timelines or plans.

In the meantime, we encourage you to post this idea on our Google Moderator page for Places.

________________________________________________________________

Theresa C.

Q: My problem with Google Places is the verification process. We have multiple locations but listings are place in Google Places by the Corporate office.  The phone verification will not work because we have so many customer services reps nationwide.

A: If you have more than 10 locations, please submit these locations via a bulk upload and then request verification for the bulk upload.

If you don’t have at least 10 locations but still experience difficulties with the verification steps, you can request assistance by submitting this contact form.

________________________________________________________________

Theresa C.

Q: The mail verification is also a problem bec our branch offices will receive the postcard but it’s corporate that placed or updated the listing.

A: Please make sure that you communicate this process to all branch offices.

________________________________________________________________

Theresa C.

Q: The mail verification also takes forever. is there a better way?

A: If phone verification is not available or not feasible for your business type, mail is the only option.

________________________________________________________________

Theresa C.

Q: If the people who initially placed the listing is no longer with our company, how can I disable theirlogin and yet keep the listing?

A: There isn’t any transfer functionality, so you should create a new listing in a new account. You can read more in this FAQ.

________________________________________________________________

Scott G.

Q: How does choosing “service area” affect search results? Seems like we are coming up much lower on the results than we were before.

A: The ranking of listings with Service areas enabled can vary. Please read this FAQ for more information about ranking.

________________________________________________________________

Scott G.

Q: Why isn’t there a choice for open 24 hours?

A: This is a great idea We’ll bring this feedback to our Product team.

________________________________________________________________

Doug T.

Q: How can I claim a listing if the business that was at the address I am now is no longer there.

A: Try creating a new listing at google.com/places. Then, request removal of the old business by clicking ‘More’ > ‘Report a Problem’. More information about the removal steps are available in this FAQ.

________________________________________________________________

Theresa C.

Q: Can you set up a verification that will go to the corporate office instead of the address or phone listed there?

A: No, you must verify information from the actual business for your protection.

________________________________________________________________

Marjory M.

Q: What happens if you hit delete? Can you restore the business easily?

A: If you hit ‘Delete’, you will be prompted to select between two options:

‘Remove listing from Maps’ and ‘Remove listing from Account’. Please visit this FAQ for more information about what each of these actions means.

________________________________________________________________

John E.

Q: if I change core business info how long to reverify and how long is my listing not shown??

A: Your listing will continue to show in its older format until you verify. The time to re-verify will depend on the verification method you choose. Phone verification is almost instant, while mail verification can take 1-3 weeks to receive your PIN in standard mail

________________________________________________________________

Brian L.

Q: is there an export for the dashboard??

A: Not yet, but great idea! Please post this idea on our Google Moderator page for Places.

________________________________________________________________

Theresa C.

Q: We already have existing listings. Can I use bulk upload to update? But some branches do not offer the same products. How can bulk upload work in this case??

A: Yes, each time you want to update information for stores in the original bulk upload, just submit a new Complete bulk upload. You can also add new stores only by submitting an Addition bulk upload. Each time you update, be sure to keep your original store codes for each business location. More information about the bulk upload types can be found in our User Guide.

________________________________________________________________

John E.

Q: If I do Google Places listings for clients can I do bulk uploads???

A: If you aren’t the business owner, you should be the sole authorized representative for the business. If the account is not clearly from the chain (@businessname.com), we will need to verify with the chain that the user is authorized.

There should not be any other providers for the business information. We also don’t accept SEO accounts that have many different clients. Only one account per business chain is allowed.  If you meet this requirement, you can submit bulk uploads.

________________________________________________________________

kevin m.

Q: how can I change the email addressI used for my google places account?

A: Changing your email address of your account entails changing your Google account entire. Please see this FAQ for more information.

________________________________________________________________

Julian E.

Q: What if someone claimed my listings? What do I do?

A: Create and verify a new listing at google.com/places.

________________________________________________________________

John E.

Q: What is Gogle doing about hijacked listings…how do we report and monitor the listing for hijackings?

A: As you are probably familiar, we require verification of a PIN before a listing will go live. This is for your protection, to prevent hijacking. More information about hijacked listings can be found here.

________________________________________________________________

Nick G.

Q: How do you move the shopping bag icon on Maps if it is located incorrectly? Changing the point in the Places dashboard just moves the red location indicator.

A: If you see a place label that is in the wrong location or that contains incorrect information, you can report a problem.  It may take over one month for any reported issues to be fixed, so thanks in advance for your patience.

________________________________________________________________

Ryland D.

Q: We have two locations, but only one is listed – do we have to create a separate listing for our other location?

A: Yes – please do create one listing per business!

________________________________________________________________

kevin m.

Q: I see a lot of my competitors listings with fake google places reveiws.  What can I do about that?

A: Fake reviews are against our Comment Posting Policy.  Please report these reviews as spam.

________________________________________________________________

Marjory M.

Q: I understand that it might not be possible to fix every little problem but is there a way to escalate a problem if it is resulting in a dangerous situation?

A: Please see our Contact Policy Page for a number of options. If you don’t see any options there, post in our Help Forum.

________________________________________________________________

Mary B.

Q: what causes a listing to  suddenly drop in the Places rankings, or 7 Pack rankings?

A: Just as web search refreshes frequently, so do the local results. There could be a number of factors here including changes to any of the listings in the set of search results in addition to changes to our algorithm. It’s unlikely that search results will remain consistent over time.

________________________________________________________________

Jon M.

Q: I cannot see the new $25 enhanced listing tags in my verified bulk upload dashboard reports for the supported cities. Are these new tags available for bulk uploads?

A: Tags are not yet available for bulk upload listings.

________________________________________________________________

Mary B.

Q: What types of things can prevent your local listing from ranking well and what types of things can help it rank better?

A: Providing an accurate and complete listing is the best way to connect to users.

________________________________________________________________

Mary B.

Q: Are the flat rate local ads coming back?

A: Please find more information about our most recent local ad product, Tags, on this page.

________________________________________________________________

Mary B.

Q: Can we use call tracking phone numbers in our listings? if not, why?

A: No, please use the most local phone number available. As I mentioned in the presentation, Google aims to provide the most useful and accurate information for users, so a local phone number is preferred.

________________________________________________________________

andy k.

Q: Do we list all the practitioners on our wellness centre Palces account or have each business set up their own Places account? the phone number and addreess is the same for everyone. 18 massage therapists – acupuncturists etc. — thanks so much :-)

A: If each practitioner is meant to be individually contactable or individually reviewed by users, then you should you should create one listing for the actual Wellness Center and  listings for each practitioner. Each practitioner can create their own individual listings so that he/she can add more personal details about his/her specialities.

________________________________________________________________

Andrew B

Q: When will driving direction stats be available in the UK?

A: Our team is working on making driving directions stats available in more international countries.

________________________________________________________________

Andrew B.

Q: When will mobile coupons be available in the UK?

A: Our team is working on making mobile coupons available to more international countries.


Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Google Places Webinar Follow-up by

34 thoughts on “Google Places Webinar Follow-up”

  1. Nice to get official validation from Google against call-tracking numbers — as you know, I think they’re a great idea in concept, but not in practice.

  2. The last 2 questions are mine… I actually asked 5 questions regarding Google Places Pages functionality in the UK… any way it’s always good to get a precise answer from Google… :-)

    On the plus side I like the idea of selecting 24 hour opening and it seems Google do as well.

    Credit where credit is due I think Brianna put together and delivered an authoritative intermediate level webinar.

  3. Nice to see Google Places personnel interacting with real businesses and the SEO’s working on their behalves and giving real answers.

    Interesting to get a confirmation that certain types of businesses/multi practise law firms, medical offices, etc. will definitely accept multiple records; one for the office and one for the specialist. That is a very interesting development.

  4. This was fun to read. I love watching Google answer questions. It confirms the things I know and highlights questions that are important to SMBs. It’s very educational.

  5. Mike – I don’t quite understand the call tracking response. I understand “no” but not the why which was how the question was asked. What if a local call tracking number is the best local number? Meaning, if a company has multiple locations of auto repair centers, each local (area code and exchange) tracking number would forward to another local person who works for the company and whose job it is to schedule appointments or answer specific questions. First of all, they could do the same thing with a non-tracking number but now they have the benefit of an analytic. Even simpler, what if it’s use is just because a single location business wants the analytic for Google and they use a local area code and exchange? I mean Google is providing limited analytic so again I restate the question. If no, why?

  6. It is really great that Google is interacting with small to medium businesses and not just the big corporations. Do you have sked on when the next webinar will be? Would be nice to participate.

  7. @Jim

    There are two local websites worth anything – Google and everybody else. Google, with their vacuum cleaner efficiency scrapes, begs, borrows or otherwise obtains a record of your business from those everybodies.

    That content is aggregated into their “cluster” about your business in an automated fashion and is based primarily on phone number. If your business has multiple phone numbers due to the use of call tracking numbers, these “citations” are not able to be aggregated with your “cluster”.

    This can cause several problems:
    1- Loss of rank due to inadequate visibility across the internet
    2-Duplicate records in Maps causing user confusion. This also causes increased work for the business owner attempting to track down and merge these many records that will continue to pop up over time.

    Even if you added only 1 call tracking number for the whole of the local ecosystem thus maintaining integrity of your local record, you run the risk of loosing that number if you change services or drop the service. Then once again you will record confusion.

    Google’s current structure for data aggregation and their desire to provide the most locally relevant info means that for the forseeable future, it just isn’t worth the risk.

  8. Mike – I can’t express how appreciative I am that you take the time to address my questions. I can’t get this quality of exchange anywhere else and that speaks to your level of committment to and understanding of this space. Your commentary makes sense but can we really know that the “cluster” focuses primarily on the phone number? Because if that’s the case, think of the issues created when a local business moves and/or opens new locations. There will be new numbers and changed numbers. Not only for that business but the cascade that follows, where after their move, a new tenant moves in the physical location with a changed phone number. Will each business be penalized? They would be if their respective numbers have been the common dominator within the data cluster. Additionally, I see one example where the business has 30 plus citations, 17 of which have their main number from the yellow pages listing (years old main number) – they established a call tracking established 18 months ago – they remain consistent in top rankings in a significant, high density, competitve category. Is there anyway you can confirm with Google? Or have you done so? Because if so, this business may be in for a rude awaking some morning in the near future. Thanks Mike!

  9. @Jim

    Phone number is not the only method used to aggregate information into the cluster but it is the most precise. Business name (which often changes) + address will be used by Google as well but phone number is the most reliable.

    The scenarios that you mention (ie problems after moving, issues with mergings) etc are all current problems that exist on some % of records.

    Not all the time, and Google is improving. If you go and read the back library here you will find numerous “cluster” F***ks that occur as a result of their technology….

  10. “We also don’t accept SEO accounts that have many different clients.”

    Does this mean it’s a bad idea to list several businesses under one account?

  11. @Brian
    They were referring specifically to verified bulk uploads. When you have 10 or more locations and bulk upload them Google demands that they be in an account that can be controlled by business and preferably with the business email address.

    As a general rule, Google trusts listings made with domain specific accounts more than gmail accounts so that implies that an agency should tend to putting each listing in a separate account. At this point it is not required, I think that is a good practice going forward.

  12. Mike, thanks for the quick follow-up and explanation. P.S. – thanks for all the input you’ve added to the Maps and Places forums.

  13. Hi,
    840 Rodeo Drive in Prescott AZ is shown as the Yavapai County Fairgrounds. It used to have that name. It is now called the Prescott Rodeo Grounds. How do I get the name corrected?

  14. A questioner inquired about creating a separate listing for each of their 2 “locations.” The response said to do so for each “business.” I’ve discouraged clients from having separate listings for each location based on Gogle Quality Guidelines: “Do not create more than one listing for each business location, either in a single account or multiple accounts.” What’s the bottom line here?

  15. @Don: “Do not create more than one listing for each business location, either in a single account or multiple accounts.” is consistent with “DO create ONE listing per business”

    From above,

    “Ryland D.

    Q: We have two locations, but only one is listed – do we have to create a separate listing for our other location?

    A: Yes – please do create one listing per business!”

  16. I guess my confusion is trained on “Q: …do we have to create a separate listing for our other location? A: Yes…” It seems the person answering the question was saying that a 2nd location equates to a 2nd business.

  17. My question is on the below question and answer from the webinar. I manage the google places account for a dental practice. There are 3 dentists. Can I add a listing for each dentist in the same account? So let’s say I have one listing for the business name and one for each doctor. That makes 4 listings total. Can they all be in the same google places account or should I create a new account for each listing since they all have the same address and phone number?

    Q: Do we list all the practitioners on our wellness centre Palces account or have each business set up their own Places account? the phone number and addreess is the same for everyone. 18 massage therapists – acupuncturists etc. — thanks so much :-)

    A: If each practitioner is meant to be individually contactable or individually reviewed by users, then you should you should create one listing for the actual Wellness Center and listings for each practitioner. Each practitioner can create their own individual listings so that he/she can add more personal details about his/her specialities.

  18. They can all be in the same account or they can be in different accounts.

    In the end, though I would only suggest that you add all of them if you have enough phone numbers for each. Otherwise the chance of merging seems to me to exceed the benefit of having distinct listings.

  19. According the Google Quality Guidelines, “Businesses that operate in a service area as opposed to a single location should not create a listing for every city they service. Service area businesses should create one listing for the central office of the business only.”

    Assuming a website is of minimal value without a corresponding Place page, where can I find what Google categorizes as a “service area?”

    For example, I have a client with offices in Ft. Pierce and Vero Beach Fl, about a half-hour apart. How would I know whether he is limited to one listing or can have 2 listings — one for each site targeting each city?

  20. He is eligible for one listing for each actual location that exists. So you can create two one for each verifiable address. You can not however creeate additional listings for each suburb that might travel to Ft. Pierce or Vero Beach.

  21. Hi Mike, I’d love to believe you. But your response seems to fly in the face of: Businesses that operate in a service area as opposed to a single location should not create a listing for every city they service. Service area businesses should create one listing for the central office of the business only.”
    Please help me reconcile this with your response. Thank you!

  22. You are taking the single sentence out of context.

      Business Name

      • Represent your business exactly as it appears in the offline world. The name on Google should match the business name, as should the address, phone number and website.
      • Do not attempt to manipulate search results by adding extraneous keywords or a description of your business into the business name.
      • Do not include phone numbers or URLs in the business name.

      Physical Location

      • Do not create listings at locations where the business does not physically exist.
      • PO Boxes do not count as physical locations.
      • Do not create more than one listing for each business location, either in a single account or multiple accounts.
      • Businesses that operate in a service area as opposed to a single location should not create a listing for every city they service. Service area businesses should create one listing for the central office of the business only.
      • Businesses with special services, such as law firms and doctors, should not create multiple listings to cover all of their specialties.
      • The precise address for the business must be provided in place of broad city names or cross-streets.
      • A property for rent is not considered a place of business. Please create one listing for the central office that processes the rentals. If you’d like, you can add your real estate properties to Google Maps so that they are available on our Real Estate layer.

    “Do not create listings at locations where the business does not physically exist.”…that means that you can create a listing for locations where the business does exist. Google Places is about making a place for every place in the world. They want to be able to provide walking, driving and biking directions to get someplace. If your lawyer has two offices then he has two places and if he has two places than he can have two listings in the Places management area. By your logic, McDonald’s could only have one listing in the whole of the US.

  23. Thanks Mike for the answer to my question. You answered it very clearly.

  24. Hi know a definitive way for knowing what constitutes a “service area” per Google’s:

    “Businesses that operate in a service area as opposed to a single location should not create a listing for every city they service. Service area businesses should create one listing for the central office of the business only.”

  25. Thankyou so much for posting this!

    Is there somewhere we can be notified of any further Google webinars so we can ask questions?

    Cheers,

  26. Hi Mike,

    Just curious as to what can be done to promote several businesses on one Places page?

    1) Multiple URL’s listed under the Websites field?

    2) Multiple URL’s to Special Pages on websites included on the Places Page Specials section?

    3) Multiple URL’s to Specials Pages on websites included under Custom Attributes/Additional Details Section?

    4) Other?

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