Google Places Dashboard – There’s Good News and There’s Bad News

Did you ever hear the one about the Lieutenant in the trenches of WWI that called together his dispirited troops and announced:”Troops, I have good news and I have bad news. Would you rather hear the good news first or the bad news?”.

The troops called out in unison: “Tell us the good news! We haven’t had any in such a long time!!”. The lieutenant says: “The Good News is that you finally get a change of underwear.” And the troops erupted with a wild cheer. “Now tell us the Bad News!”

The Lieutenant responded: “Larry you get Joe’s, Joe you get Harry’s….”

The  Google Places Dashboard has been a lot like that of late. The good news? Well the System Error and Pending Problems seemed to have been cleared up.

What’s the bad news you ask?  Apparently large accounts “will be unable to view, edit, or take action on listings 1001 and above” that were created via the bulk upload feature. It obviously does not affect the bulk of users but it means that those organizations with a large number of stores will be unable to affect changes on some of their listings. So for example if a store closes, they will be unable to remove it from Google Places.

Here is an email that went out to the accounts:

Subject: Important notification regarding your Google Places account

Hello,

We would like to inform you that your Google Places account will be affected by scheduled maintenance of our bulk upload experience.

Beginning on March XX, 2011, for a period several weeks, you will be unable to view, edit, or take action on listings 1001 and above. We will email you when we have an additional update.

Please see the questions below for more information about how this will affect your account:

How can I view my dashboard?
The ability to view the dashboard statistics for any listings past 1000, page 20, will be unavailable. This means that you will not see any alerts, nor be able to fix, any listings with issues that are past 1000.

You can still download a .csv of all your listings by clicking Download your data file in your Google Places account.

Can I re-upload a new file so that I can view other listings?
No, even if you re-upload a new file, your listings will still be sorted in the same order.

If I have pending listings, will I still be able to view those particular listings with the sorting feature?
Unfortunately, the ability to view any listings that are sorted 1001 and above will not be available. To edit any of your listings, you can re-submit your bulk upload file at any time.

We appreciate your patience while we work to improve Google Places.

Sincerely,

The Google Places Team

© 2011 Google Inc. 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, CA 94043

****
What does this mean? Who knows.  Carter Maslan noted at SMX that “changes were coming” to the bulk upload process. Coming as it did on the heals of the System Error issues, it is not out of the question that Google is in mucking with the plumbing in Google Places. Hopefully changes for the better are in the works but we can expect changes regardless.

If that is the case, it is interesting to me that they are sending out emails to affected large accounts but provided nary a peep to the hoi polloi (the unwashed masses) affected by the nearly 48 hour outage  System Error.

Google’s communication, or rather lack there of, is something that I always have a hard time understanding. Regardless of the cause for Google’s poor communication with SMBs (lack of attention to the details, fear of giving spammers or competitors too much information, whatever) it ends up appearing at best as an uncaring attitude towards the small businesses that depend on Places

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Google Places Dashboard - There's Good News and There's Bad News by

11 thoughts on “Google Places Dashboard – There’s Good News and There’s Bad News”

  1. Thanks for the update Mike.

    You know in reading your blog for several years now it seems that you, like me, have become progressively more disenfranchised with Google. On my end I find it very shocking and discouraging that Google still fails to realize the needs of the small business community and the local seo community.

    I have clients that literally could not turn on a computer if they tried. They need my services just to get their business out to “the web” so they can perform the services they do best. Google engineers seem to take the approach that every person is tech savvy enough to handle a Google Places account on their own, list the proper categories, build the right back-links, input the proper content on their website, and analyze traffic reports to see if it is all working properly.

    The bulk upload feature, notably for accounts with 1000 plus listings, will be controlled by LSEOs managing accounts for small businesses. Arbitrarily deciding to perform some sort of update that removes necessary features from the dashboard is ridiculous. In the end what can we do about it though? I guess commiserating at the Blumenthals is our only outlet now…

  2. @Mark
    You are welcome to commiserate here, that’s for sure.

    It is not so much that I am “disenfranchised” as I am attempting to communicate to Google the SMB point of view. As engineers they are often clueless about the impact that their actions have on the real world that I deal with.

    I have what you would call a love hate relationship with them. I think what they do is amazing. They may or may not find my critiques loving but they are meant with a sincere desire for them to get it right.

  3. I wonder if it could also be related to the Cooper Tire shenanigans http://searchenginewatch.com/3642005

    And other bulk spam they are trying to get a handle on?

    Regarding the Local SEO’s using one G account to manage 1001 plus client listings – with the new blended results much of that industry is getting killed, those that focused solely on 7pack rankings and neglected websites and organic SEO. The game changed for them and their business model took a fatal blow.

    I talked to a small biz owner in Florida the other day who was using one of those kinds of services. He has no control over his listing, they were using call tracking phone numbers, those numbers now redirect elsewhere, and they will not return his calls. When he finally got through to the owner he was told – we’ve moved on to large enterprise clients only and don’t care to help the small fish and we wont even lift a finger to undo your Places account. Too bad for you.

    There was a fair number of local seo biz’s that sprang up under the model of $100 or $200 per month after you land in the top 7. If it took 2 months for your listing to land in the top 7 then you pay nothing for those two months but once you’re there they start invoicing you. Now there is no 7-pack, or sometimes there is and other times its blended organic/local. So many of those that were guaranteeing top 7 maps placement, or you don’t pay, can simply not deliver.

    I’m sure there are thousands of small businesses now caught up in that limbo and no access to their Places accounts.

  4. I find it most interesting that one of my clients has his Places account in the “Pending” status, with the ad being unpublished, as it is up for a “review”.

    At the same time his Google Boost ad continues to run and send visitors to that very same Places Page.

    It would appear that as long as he is willing to pay for visitors, Google is fine with the ad, and willing to send traffic to it, but will not allow it to show for organic search. A bit of a double standard that has been difficult at best (and some what exasperating) to try to explain….

    It’s way past time for Google to part with some of their $$$ and create a real customer service department to deal with some of these very real SMB problems that continue to exist with the Places listings….

  5. For what it’s worth — I have noticed a bunch of updates in the local index today for the bulk accounts we manage. Many listings which were in Pending limbo are now live in the index — though the dashboard screens still show them as Pending.

  6. I constantly feel like a “lieutenant” as I try to calm worried clients and explain the frustration that is Google Places. Great when its working well and really annoying when a profile suddenly disappears!

  7. It certainly makes it hard to know exactly what we can offer clients, with Google shifting the goalposts so often.
    We only just fine-tuned our methods after November’s re-shuffle, now it looks like we can start over.

    I suspect the changes will bring Google Places results more into line with organics. So if you don’t have a relevant website backing you up, you may now struggle to rank in Google Places.

  8. Hi Mike,

    I know this message is not regarding above mentioned topic but I had to write and ask you if you could raise question to Google employees regarding reporting spam listings.

    “Report A Problem” link doesn’t work. Reporting a spam is like sending request into a black hole. The worst part is when you send report and than you get email notification that Google will review information you provided but also that since spam you reported is owner verified listing some updates require the approval of business owner! In another words they will ask spamer to admit spam. And that can take very long period of time but at the end spam listing will still be there without any consequences.
    Google’s Quality Guidelines does not apply for this listings and they are multiplying. I have reported businesses with multiple listings for the same address and with same web site and nothing happened.Also I reported businesses permanently closed, businesses which included marketing taglines in their business name, non-existing businesses and businesses with wrong locations or category. Most of reported
    listings have status “pending” and for many others my report is “approved” but still waiting for owners
    verification or who knows what. This listings are on top of search results for their category. I notice that many of them are having fake Google reviews. Also there are reports from customers who are ripped-of by this companies.By allowing spam listings, Google obviously is not hurting only credible businesses but also is not protecting customers.

    Thank you for your time. Should you have any questions regarding this matter, please do not hesitate to contact me.

    Kind regards,Pamela

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