The Growth of Google Places Claimed Listings

It was a year ago April that Google made the first public announcement regarding the number of claimed Places listing. The number came in at 4 million worldwide. Yesterday at the BIA/Kelsey ILM West conference, Jeff Aguero noted that Google Places now has 8 million claimed Place Pages (out of 50MM worldwide). It was just this past March that Marissa Mayer, speaking at SwSX, noted that there were 6 million claimed Places.

The ability to claim a business listing was first rolled out in March of 2005 with the launch of Dashboard precursor, the Google Local Business Center. These four data points allow for some interesting analysis of the “run rate” at which Google is creating a direct relationship with business locations worldwide.

Here is a chart showing the growth since inception (U.S. data is estimated).

Some thoughts about the graph:

  • With 8 million sign ups Google has the largest direct relation with SMBS of any local service
  • This amounts to 16% of all business locations worldwide
  • The growth during 2010 was ~2 million,
  • Business were claiming their listing at a rate of 167,000 per month
  • From March of this year until today, Google added 2 million more businesses
  • The growth rate since March has been 250,000 new claimants per month

Obviously we are depending on Google for the numbers. We don’t really know how many businesses there are worldwide (I am sure that Google’s estimate is very approximate) and we don’t really know how Google is counting the 8 million. Does it include inactive accounts for business that are no longer active? Does it count twice businesses that have been claimed twice?

While there may be some questions surrounding the specifics of the numbers, the direction and rates seem pretty clear. As Everett Dirkson is purported to have said: A million here, a million there, pretty soon it adds up to real money. That certainly seems to be the case here.

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The Growth of Google Places Claimed Listings by

17 thoughts on “The Growth of Google Places Claimed Listings”

  1. As great as increased use of Google Places is, additional support is very much preferred. I love Google Places and everything that it stands for but the amount of hoops we have to jump through from time to time to get things done, ugh.

  2. With Google running around all this year from state to state doing local sign-up sessions along with local advertising for Google Places I am surprised the number isn’t higher. How much ‘real money’ did they spend this year for the 4 mil increase?

  3. @Roswell

    Good point. I do have a post that I will be penning in that regard. I think you will be surprised at my conclusions.

    @John S

    They have certainly ramped up their “belly to belly” relationship selling with the seminars and community managers. They have also supported our Getlisted efforts. Clearly they are working to build out these numbers.

    The numbers though far outpace any face to face contact that they have. So whatever they are doing, it seems to be working

  4. While the numbers are impressive, the added value of claiming a business listing is still insufficient. Here is what a business gains:

    - very broken and buggy analytics with lack of any in-depth data
    - the right to “fill-in” their profile, while big part of this additional information does not even show up on the front end
    - receiving (sometimes) notifications when something is going to change

    The claiming of a listing does not:

    - guarantee that the business information would stay as the business owner set it
    - guarantee that the business information provided by the business owner would ever be displayed
    - guarantee that duplicate unclaimed (or claimed) listings would not pop up
    - help in the organic rankings (and it should, because the claiming of a listing itself is an act of providing certain “trust” that the information is correct

    For me, the product should be of relatively equal quality to the number of users it targets. After this is achieved, Google might start showing off their numbers.

  5. What bothers me to no end that it is still not possible to locate and claim your business in a normal manner.

    First you locate your unclaimed venue, you proceed to ‘claim the venue’ by entering in the phone number. A phone number which often, if not always is located on the places page. Only to have Google tell you ‘There is no business listed under that phone number at Google Places’.

    Which sends you down the route of creating a duplicate listing, point out that the existing listing needs to be merged with the recently created listing. At which point you can pray and hope that it gets merged rather than just removed after a matter of weeks/months. This is far from normal.

    for the record, I’m operating under the Dutch version of Google Places.

  6. @Nyagoslav

    Your point is well taken. In fact, the value of claiming a business has declined over the past few years. At one time, claiming did provide a ranking boost and your information was guaranteed to be the information.

    Unfortunately, bragging rights are a marketing game the functions independently of real value

  7. @Roswell

    I am the first to agree that the process is arcane, buggy and a royal P.I.T.A.

    The claiming process has never been small business focused. It is, as Nyagoslav points out, more focused on the benefit to Google than to the benefit of the SMB.

  8. Good overview Mike and always good to know the numbers.

    I still feel strongly that if Places functioned better, had fewer problems and better support the adoption growth curve would escalate exponentially, without the cost of the feet on the street campaigns.

    If Places was all it could be, the WOM marketing (always the best kind) would kick in and SMBs would be singing Google’s praises and people like us would have more time to be ADVOCATES for Google instead of troubleshooters for Google, so we’d be able to help their marketing efforts.

    I’ve said it before but if Google could make US raving fans, WE would be their feet on the street.

    Giving credit where credit is due, I do however see a VERY proactive push to offer better support on a few levels (forum, troubleshooter, messaging) and faster turn around on bugs and fixes. So I do think lately there is an increased commitment to improving things!

  9. @Linda

    I have been following Google Place claims since day one and that issues have changed only a little as time has gone on. Mergings, quirks, bad interface design… it is amazing that in 6 years they have not managed to create that WOW product… and yet they still have 8 million claims… ah the power of power.

  10. I agree with Nyagoslav’s points.

    So you claim your business record. So what? Who benefits? Google!!! The smb might get more problems via a very buggy system.

    Google now has you in their contact system. Great opportunity to direct sell to you!!!!!

    Am seeing some highly ranked unclaimed listings….and I know they are purposefully NOT CLAIMING the records in certain cases.

    It appears to me to be a “google only statistic” with the possible best usage being…..

    “AHH fellow googlers…we now have 8 million contacts to direct sell….and btw never provide direct customer service.

    What a delight!!!! More Income!!!! No costs!!!”

  11. @Miriam: Well said.

    8 million customers. Missing customer service/support.

    38 states have a population less than 8 million. Imagine if the utilities failed; no water, electricity, phone service; major providers failed. etc etc.

    Its astonishing and appalling that with all those businesses signed up they can’t give direct simple customer service in a normal vein.

    Meanwhile my claimed accounts get emails, they get solicitations, they get blasts about how important it is to fill out google questionaires, etc.

    I have some adwords accounts. They have customer service. I used the phone on one.

    I gave the account number. I confirmed the google email account. The confirmation process was similar to that of any customer service process with any institution.

    The account rep went right into the account and immediately reviewed all questions and answers. She did a good job. She was extremely clear and spoke in a way that any lay person could understand.

    But w/ G Places its totally different.

    BTW: I have a recurring problem with a record that has started to suffer the “We currently do not support this location” and the record goes missing.

    Its been a problem for businesses with claimed records for some time. A “bug” started to occur on a regular basis this past summer. Many businesses reported the problem in the google forum

    Then the bug started reappearing this past September. Again businesses were reporting the problem.

    The issue seems to be reocurring with some frequency now. I’ve seen others report the problem as have I.

    When I started experiencing the problem I immediately came to this blog to find a “fix”….and one was reported this past July.

    I used the fix. I was nice enough to report it in the forums. I did it for further reference. I referenced the fix to one or two people who were currently experiencing the issue.

    Nobody from Google interacted. A Frequent Contributor (ie an outsider who makes a lot of comments in the forums intended to help people but who also gets reference business for doing this) said they would bring it to Google’s attention.

    I haven’t gotten a response from Google.

    To go back to Miriam’s comment.

    8 million customers. No customer service.

  12. Good points, Dave, and thanks.

    You know, I had one of those out-of-body experiences dealing with Yahoo! last week. I’m working on a rather laborious set of local tasks and I ran into something weird in Yahoo! that I didn’t know how to handle. Know what I did? I picked up the phone, called Yahoo! and a person ANSWERED!

    Whoa…..

    I am being facetious, of course, but the fact that Yahoo! with all of its growing pains and changes can staff support for its Local product and Google can’t says something, eh?

  13. Dave et all,

    Re the do not support this location problem…

    I’ve been worried about the frequency of reports lately, so asked Vanessa to provide some insight in the forum and she did right away.

    Here is what she said: http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/Places/thread?hl=en&tid=6cccf153cc8b6d8b

    FYI Vanessa has been very proactive and has her team working to offer more forum support. Plus if you haven’t tried it yet the new troubleshooter usually provides direct support from a Google rep within 48 hours or so typically. So things are improving! (The troubleshooter path can be confusing depending on the problem, but just keep trying to select appropriate options until you get to a form where you can explain the issue and a REAL person will contact you to fix the problem.)

  14. I have duplicate business that has no ability to claim or report a problem. What is going on and how do I claim this listing?

  15. i have several of my company listings on Google Places. I have two accounts that have my correct phone numbers listed in my personal info but NOT on my Google Places where customers look. I have been trying to reach someone to remove a horribly wrong incorrect phone number which no one answers and no business voice mail is on. What can I do?
    How is Google able to change a phone number on one’s account without the owner’s permission?

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