Graphic: How an SMB Solves a Problem in Google Places

As I read of Google’s newly stated public commitment to better customer service in Google Places, thoughts of a myriad of current issues swirled through my head. After mentally struggling through 10 or so current Places problems, the miasma settled around this one issue that I thought I could use to illustrate what an SMB confronts with the current “customer support” system.

The following is an actual example of a how a business affects a solution to the situation of their name triggering the “Term not Allowed” filter in Google Places. Any similarity to these drawings (of Rube Goldberg) is strictly coincidental.

(Click to view your very own printable, full size, Ed Reese Style, infographic of the current process)

While it might have its own uniques twists and turns, this chart is typical of the current methods available to an SMB to solve the dozen or so problems that can crop up in Places. As many of you know some of the solutions are actually more complex. One has to wonder just how many SMBs give up prior to solving their specific difficulty.

Google is staffed with lots of smart people who understand how to solve these types of problems. Usually, I refrain from making suggestions about specific fixes but I just couldn’t resist given that the iron might now be hot.

Here is a second chart that offers a suggested alternative flow that automates a fair bit of the solution. However the SMB might actually come away thinking that Google had provided “good customer service”:

(Click to view full size infographic of proposed process flow)

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Graphic: How an SMB Solves a Problem in Google Places by

19 thoughts on “Graphic: How an SMB Solves a Problem in Google Places”

  1. Thank you for putting into pictures what many of us had been thinking. My cartoons involved mobs with baseball bats and the person responsible hanging from a lamp post as an example to others. Hopefully now Google have announced the addition of (more?) resources, which i hope means more than a part time work experience girl for two weeks, your dream of how it should be done will become reality for us all.

  2. Good stuff Mike!

    When I’m trying to help some confused people on the Places forum it’s usually comes down to my “ABC” doctrine: be Activist, Bold & Creative as no one will probably help you, or that you’ll be caught in the loop you perfectly described above.

    People are being forced to think out of the box in order to solve their listing’s error. In many cases, like in the Locksmith industry, it’s leading you to use gray/black hat maneuvers.

    i must say that even my guys are doing so, after they are cracking open the listing’s problem & conquering another 7 pack, they are gradually doing some reverse actions so the listing will be aligned with Google Maps guidelines.

    How twisted is that?
    I wonder if Google is doing it on purpose, so they can understand & reveal many defects they probably have in their places & Maps features..?

  3. @Gerard
    There is nothing like reality to point out the ludicrous and “twisted” path that an SMB is forced to follow.


    You twist, they twist, we all twist. At this point the explanation that Google is using cruel and unusual punishment as a way to ferret out the many cracks in their system would be totally disingenuous. I think Carter may have floated that logic vis a vis spam but at some point along the time continuum it just becomes cost savings or “other priorities”.

  4. Mike, you hit the nail on the head. But, as I looked at your solution a certain song came to my mind….

    You may say that I’m a dreamer
    But I’m not the only one
    I hope someday you’ll join us
    And the world will be as one

  5. @Mike and Shawn

    Hey, when I design solutions I go for optimal! Dam the torpedos, the algos and the geeks and go for the gold…

  6. Nice one Mike.
    It’s amazing that they have not caught on to (or done anything about) the fact that there are so many issues with the system that can so easily be fixed by just answering questions. Many of the questions are, as you pointed out, repeats of the same question that has never been answered.

  7. Mike:

    Nice article. That first diagram is brutal. How confusing and discombobulated. How can a business person figure out what to do, simply to get good accurate information on the web representing his/her business.

    In fact, how can an SEO schooled in Local figure it out?

    Your suggestion deserves merit. Hope Marissa Meyer is checking this out if she is serious about increasing customer service in Google Places

  8. @Steven

    They do know it but their typical response is to fix the code so it scales not fix human sized problems. But many of the current problems are ones that really need a trained human to interact with even if only briefly to solve/resolve/approve/unmerge.

    The forum is in fact just that for them. A way to measure pain points not to solve problems. The convoluted path noted above is the result of that…. humans work to solve their problems. Google works to enhance code. They think of forums as a way to enhance their code… humans (like me) keep poking and prodding until it works for them…. resulting in the above mess…

    There is a rhyme or reason. There always is when it is a computer delivering results. But don’t feel bad, you are amongst good company in your inability to understand what the reason is.

    I created it at a size big enough that she could print out and pin to her wall if she so desires. 🙂

  9. Hmm… I think the challenge of the current process filters out a lot of the requests and work Google has to do, because many just throw their hands in the air and give up. I think this is google’s rule across the board… make support difficult and less people will ask for it.

    Facebook has a similar process with Page names that have all CAPS such as an acronym.

    Unless this information is palatable to the masses and re-posted on and to cause a stink, it is doubtful that change will happen. Yet look how quickly Google and Facebook made privacy changes when the masses caused an uproar.

  10. Mike,

    Instead of all of us consultants, agencies, SEOs and SMBs continuously bitching about the mismanagement of Places (year after year after year after year), why don’t we setup a standalone website where all of us can can sign an online petition against Google totally ignoring the ongoing major issues inside Places?

    If we could pull this off, and get it to go viral, we would have one central location (besides their stupid a** forums) where we can all add posts (by the tens of thousands) of our disgust with Google’s total disregard of the livelihood of millions of real people that own and run millions of real businesses worldwide.

    Between the tens of thousands of us pissed off and fed up consultants, agencies, and SEOs, representing millions of SMBs worldwide, Google and Marissa Mayer will no longer be able to code themselves out the mess they’ve created. Nor will they be able to ignore the firestorm we would ignite on the web if thousands of us posted press releases, videos, tweets, articles, Facebook posts, blog posts, etc., all pointing back to the petition and attack site we setup.

    Instead of being the victims for one more day, let’s start a viral online campaign against Google and their ignorant treatment of all of us. Let’s attack them where it counts; THEIR Reputation, and THEIR Pocketbook!

    Let’s see how THEY like it!!!

  11. Gerard,

    Thanks for taking action on my suggestions buddy, but we will need someone like Mike Blumenthal to spearhead this if we hope to have any chance of it going viral.

    A petition on your website or my website isn’t gonna cut it. I also don’t see the need to publicly collect (or possibly publish) people’s email addresses. Many would consider that list building or, at worst, an open invitation to spammers if all of our email addresses were publicly available on the petition website.

    We would really only need the wording for the petition, a check box to say you agree, and a few fields to fill out such as; name, country, and possibly our website if we wanted it displayed. Once we hit the submit button, our name is recorded and added to the ever growing list of petitioners… the list that the whole world would now be able to see, including Google.

    Mike, what say you?

  12. I signed it under my real name. nice idea.

    Now it needs tremendous publicity. This is one place to start, but it needs significantly more effort.

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