In the spirit of discovery, I have once again embarked on a project to determine exactly how many “closing reports” are required to actually show a business as closed on their Places Page. The answer: Only 2 even if you are Google.
Update 12:39: 16 minutes after it was reported as closed, the listing had the yellow flag removed and it once again notes that there are unverified edits. Update 1:33: After a few more reported closing reports, Google Mt View has once again been closed for the past 30 minutes. The experiment is open to all. Be sure to use a throw away Google account. Update 1:40: It is once again showing as open and no longer showing as having unverified edits. Update 5:27: Deanna Yick has just forwarded me this clarification from Google that I have posted it and responded.
Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
News Flash: Google Mt View Reported Closed!
by Mike Blumenthal
My nature is in fact in question. It took a few minutes to decide to pull the trigger but in the end I couldn’t resist.
Comment by Mike (2503 comments) — August 15, 2011 @ 12:31 pm
Mike, it depends how many reporters it takes. If you reported it via your account, which probably has already hundreds of approved changes, that was already almost 100% enough for the algorithm to make the changes go live.
On a separate issue I had noted that there was dramatically more responsiveness on the “report a problem” link in a places page. In fact I reported a problem twice….and there was a correction.
The experiment you just performed plus my experience suggest a SEA CHANGE….with regard to the “report a problem” link on the Google Places Record….going from virtually no responsiveness to virtual immediate responsiveness.
In my opinion, responsiveness is great. Unfortunately in this case it seems to have created a different set of problems.
I’d so like to see a response from Google. Here is an issue wherein you have highlighted an issue and a vulnerability.
Hey Google. We aren’t always out there to criticize, but at many times want to help you do better.
In my mind the answer is to add human beings to the process. Filter out the spam. Have humans contact humans to ascertain if these various reports have credibility or are in fact spam.
Any other suggestions?
Comment by earlpearl (784 comments) — August 15, 2011 @ 12:46 pm
Interesting. The changes are actually Pending on MapMaker, and it seems that all the people that reported the business as closed are having either no or not good reputation on Map Maker. Still the changes went live. I believe this is something new after the last update. It just seems too easy for someone to get you out of the search results this way…
Google sending notifications of significant changes to verified owners and giving them power to make certain corrections (such as to allegations of the business being closed) would provide a quick and efficient way to minimize the damage of such reports. One would think the “on the ground” owner would be the authoritative source to confirm or deny allegations of closing.
To Google’s advantage, owners knowing they would get this information and could protect their businesses from this new hazard would be a major incentive for owners to verify their listings.
Since the hazard of malicious or mistaken reports is wholly generated and maintained by Google it would seem like the right thing for them to do to provide owners with all the protection possible against malicious or mistaken information. Otherwise they are being careless with the livelihoods of those owners and their employees.
Comment by Daimon (1 comments) — August 16, 2011 @ 11:13 am
And your trial and report?has got in news in Japan.
I wonder “closed label” make rank of the listing down?
Comment by taku (2 comments) — September 7, 2011 @ 4:34 am
The “permanently closed” label most certainly does make the listing down. The “reported closed” does not initially but it might over time. That is unclear. Is the “Report a problem” available in Japan? If it is then the closed label is likely to be there as well….
Comment by Mike (2503 comments) — September 7, 2011 @ 5:54 am
@Mike – I think the “Report a problem” option is not available in Google Maps Japan currently. And also as far as I am concerned black hatting in Japan is rather a rare event, but I hear that more and more companies are using Chinese “SEO” services.
Thanks for the update. I wholeheartedly agree that American cultural values exacerbate these sorts of issues.
Comment by Mike (2503 comments) — September 7, 2011 @ 6:13 am
Thy this one, start a duplicate listing with just the basic info as Google and when it shows up on organic search flag both Google listings and duplicate and see how long it takes to affect the listings. This is one of the ways the locksmith spammer in San Antonio is affecting local business.
Also flagging Googles reviews as bad info is another i was hit with. There pictures being flagged with inappropriate content maby.
The spammers here have been delt a blow from a few map makers and now are listing in pay per click areas or maby that’s what google wants anyway ?
[...] The underlying problem is that Google has taken the attitude that Google Places (or Maps as it was called originally) is a wiki. (That’s Google’s word for it, too. I wrote about this on my own blog almost three years ago: Google’s Hypocrisy: Search Spam and Map Spam.) Mike Blumenthal once changed Microsoft’s campus into an escort service on Google Maps and, when this latest problem with open businesses being listed as closed came to light, he managed to list Google’s HQ as closed. [...]
LOL! Mike your the best! You closed Google’s office.
2 – wow! That’s insane. I’m worried the wrong people will be reading this. Google has to fix this.
Q: Even though I have looked at hundreds of GP accounts now, I have not seen any clients hit by this (knock on wood), but can anyone tell me if Google emails the registered or claimed owner of the listing when it’s been marked as ‘closed’? I understand if the listing is not claimed they probably can’t do this, but if it’s claimed they should be able to do that, right?
Do they do that…? If not, this is really really bad.
Google sends an email to claimed businesses IF the listing is marked permanently closed but has not been doing so on the “reported as closed”.
If the listing is unclaimed they could
1)Check with the cc card companies to see if there were recent charges
2)Check with the phone companies to check if the phone is still active
3)Call the number with an auto dialer and ask for affirmation if the location is still active ….
Before any action
Comment by Mike (2503 comments) — September 9, 2011 @ 11:38 am
H! I bet Bing saw this headline and it’s heart fluttered a little in hope…
[...] content (“UGC”) edits. As I illustrated recently from Mike Blumenthal’s experiment to flag Google HQ as closed, some types of edits can result in businesses getting their listings defaced with false claims that [...]
[...] that are great examples of how thinking outside the box might bring unexpected positives. First, is Mike Blumenthal “closing” Google’s headquarters and second, Gav Heppinstall’s “cracking” the not-too-well-thought-over distance [...]