Google Maps & Places – Quirks, Bugs and Edge Cases…

Last week, I joined the internet revolution as our household finally moved off of dial up and received DSL from Verizon. It was a long time coming and a path full of Verizon delays, but as a result I have been spending more time in the Google Places forums. This is an activity that never ceases to uh…. amaze.

Google Places has improved dramatically over the past 24 months but like all “good code” it still has its significant share of quirks, bugs and edge cases….

Here are some cases that have shown up recently in the forums:

The LASIK Surgeon caught in an infinite loop of frustration. This fellow, when he chooses the Google defined category of LASIK Surgeon is told that he is guilty of excessive capitalization and is not allowed to even verify. My suggestion: change businesses.

The Insurance Agent that is caught in a time warp. His listing is correct in his LBC account, it is correct when viewed as a OneBox but his Places Page shows him as only open on Saturdays. Lazy bum…get to work.

The Architect that happens to have a business located on an “improperly” named street. His business is located on Dyke Lane and when attempting to claim his listing, it is flagged for the use of inappropriate language. And folks complain about Apple’s over aggressive sense of propriety. The solution: get a PO Box.

The town of Sunrise Fl. These folks have been lost by Google Maps on more than one occasion. If you search for a business in Sunrise Fl which is near Ft. Lauderdale, Google directs you to businesses on the opposite coast. Google has indicated that it could be up to 2 months for Sunrise to be found. Hmm… they always say its darkest just before the dawn.

As a long time participant in the forums and having to apologize more than being able to fix, these cases demonstrate
1) that, after 6 years, Google Maps is still very much a work in progress.
2)that is likely to be the case for a good time to come and thus…
3) that Google, while waiting to offer a world wide software fix that solves all of these problems and more, really, really, needs some staff in the forums.

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Google Maps & Places - Quirks, Bugs and Edge Cases... by

29 thoughts on “Google Maps & Places – Quirks, Bugs and Edge Cases…”

  1. LASIK surgeons being one of my company’s niches, we’ve run up against the unattainable “LASIK Surgeon” category quite a lot. Our solution was a custom category for “Lasik Surgery”. Close enough to be clear, different enough to satisfy the Nazi-like capitalization sensors.

  2. I couldn’t agree more. I have been spending a bit more time in the forums and really one full time person could take care of a lot. They could even push tags and pay there own salary. It just seems crazy that more effort doesn’t go to fixing dups, and the other quarks that totally screw businesses and leave a sour taste for Google Places in their mouth.

    I am really tired to telling people “Well, we will do everything to try to get there attention and wait for 3 months to see if it works, then most likely we will just start over.”

    Mike

  3. Yes the argument that it is free is no longer valid…they are directly generating plenty of money. See my previous post as to the 11th Google truth: Its good for Google.

  4. @Rebecca

    Yes, that works well and was the solution that I hit upon for the poster… it sure is annoying though and more complicated than it need be.

  5. I actually just wrote them quite a long letter yesterday about their lack of customer service for Places and how the forum is pretty much a joke as a solution for this. That’s what they get for asking me to take a “quick” survey haha. I highly doubt anyone will ever read it, but it did feel good to vent!

  6. @Mica

    If you go back to my earliest blog posts you will find that the situation has not improved much in 4 years despite the improvements in the LBC.

  7. Hi, there. I’ve the same problem with Sunrise, FL. It can be solved by adding Miami in the search terms. Something like “Business name Sunrise FL Miami”. I will try to put Miami in the name of my business. Hope Google won’t reject it.
    Btw do you know solution for the Locksmith problem? I’ve tried with changing the keywords to something related to Keys, but again my business became pending.

  8. I was told to Create a My Map in your Google Places. Is it not enough to fix the marker in your Google Places account for the business location? Do I also have to log into My Maps and also create a “My Map” for each business? Is this important for SEO and Google Local Listings?

  9. I think that these examples that you have given exceed my frustrations with Google Places! My latest headache with it is I have claimed a client’s listing and phone verified. I then updated the address and postcard verified. Even after all this, the address has not updated on Google Maps (it is correct in my Places account) and none of the additional information I have added to the Place page displays. When I click “See my listing on Google Maps,” all the wrong information is there and no matter how many times I update it, it stays wrong.

  10. So Mike is there anyone at Google that supports bulk uploads (white list)? What is the best solution if you are inquiring about the status of a feed or if you are having difficulties and/or errors?

  11. @Lora
    Try to put custom Areas Served and use Fix Marker Location in your Google Places account. This strategy works for me.

  12. @Plamen

    The Marker Location in my Places account is in the right place. I went ahead and added an Areas Served in the custom area – will keep an eye on it. Thanks again!

  13. @Mike

    I verified by postcard 2 weeks ago. I understand that Google sometimes takes up to 4 weeks to update listing information (which was the oh so helpful feedback I received in the Google Places forum), but I manage a lot of our client’s local listings for them and have always pretty much seen instantaneous results when updating verified listings. I think that this listing had been previously been verified by another user (could have been years ago – the current owners have no idea). So I am wondering if that has something to do with the problem?

  14. @Plamen

    Hmmmm….I did claim that 2nd listing in my account, although I have paused it from displaying on Google Maps. It is still paused in my Places account. It sure is a much nicer listing – too bad Google won’t just display that one (although all the reviews are on the first listing, which is why I am trying so hard to get that one to have the right info in it).

  15. @lora if this place helps you get your places page correct faster than google or the forum we need to highlight the event.

    For whatever reasons, the utter lack of consistent and meaningful assistance and the outright frustration of smb’s and their seo’s in being unable to get things corrected has escaped the media. Lack of assistance in this area of Google has remained consistent for years. They are getting away with it.

    It drives people nuts.

    Lora: hope you get the help here that will get your issues resolved.

  16. Mike:

    A short while ago, Miriam and I and some others discussed some issues with regard to Google Places in a thread at Cre8asite

    While the initial thread topic was about the experiment google ran with different presentations of local results we started to comment on the recent flurry of contract photographers taking pictures inside local businesses for ultimate use in Places Pages.

    I ran into one of the photographers twice where one of our smb’s is located as he was arranging to take pictures in the retail neighborhood.

    The photographer was generally very well received; local retailers liked it; I even caught an example of exemplary local press about the phenomena http://www.gazette.net/stories/08252010/be…22802_32539.php

    I bring this up, because in my view the problems with lack of customer service for Google Maps/ The Places Page–and making corrections seems to gather NO widespread publicity.

    This is one of the few places where the problems reach the light of day outside of the Google Places Forum. Miriam’s blog has also highlighted some of the grotesque problems.

    Meanwhile…On the Other Hand…Google is generating a tremendous level of Feel Good Publicity with the SMB world with the free photography campaign.

    I also think the Free Photography Campaign might accomplish some of these other probable Google Goals:

    A) Get more smb’s to claim their listing (estimated 6 out of 7 haven’t claimed their listings)
    B) Once having claimed your listing…the SMB will start receiving communications from “their friend, Google” ;)
    C) Down the line there will be ample opportunities for the SMB’s to start spending on PPC.

    At least that is what I think. :D

    In general, though it seems Google can roll out all sorts of tricks, gimmicks, PR stunts, generate photographs, etc……all in an effort to ultimately get a bigger piece of the local SMB advertising spend (which is worth $10’s of billions in the aggregate)

    Meanwhile…they treat smb’s like GARBAGE as to customer service and the SMB’s are IRATE.

    But it doesn’t get publicity or widespread press….except in a few places like this.

    It just astonishes me.

  17. @Lora

    Sometimes updates just take longer….lots of voodoo going on in the background that sometimes even is intentional in the delay to prevent spammers from figuring things out too quickly. So it could eventually update. I recently was able to change my name back to its real name because of the change in the punctuation rules and it took a solid 3 weeks to show..

    I too noticed the unclaimed 2nd listing in the index. Is it possible that you have a 3rd listing in the index? You should edit that one to be exactly the same using community edit and then report it as a duplicate via the report a problem link and then wait (and wait, and wait) for it to merge.

  18. Very interesting posts with some interesting cases here

    I had an issue with my account been “”Closed” and emailing Google, they said there was nothing wrong with it – but yet I still cannot get into the account.

    Even using a different email on the same domain got rejected….

    And so there is no way out of that sand pit. Solution – I just didn’t bother with maps.

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