Catalog of Current Bugs in Google Places and the Google Places Dashboard

A number of contributors to the Places forums (Treebles, Helmut, Nyagoslav, Linda Buquet, myself) have assembled this first shot at a list of known bugs in Google Places and the Google Places Dashboard. Google is not currently publishing such a list and until they do, this list might help you understand if what you are experiencing is a known issue or not.

My hope is that by putting these in a single location it will save some of you time and/or frustrations as you experience the problem. This list is not comprehensive as we have not yet catalogued all bugs. If there are some that we have missed please add them as a comment and we will put them in our next update. Please include a reference link to the report in the forums. All of these issues are known to Google.

Date/Area Affected / Issue Reference URL Additional details
01/17/12 Places & Places Dashboard: Places Page Totally Disappear from both the Places index and the dashboard Places Forum Post Other reports here, here, here & here This does not seem very widespread but it is serious.
01/13/12 Places: Google adds the category “emergency” to
virtually all doctors & dentists Places listing whether they provide
emergency care or not
It appears to have happened concurrently with the 01/12/12 index push and is likely caused by bad source data
01/12/12 Places: When an owner response to a review exceeds 4094
characters Google responds with the meaningless error: Server error. Please
try again later.
Blumenthal’s Blog Comment I tested this & verified exactly where the bad messaging occurs
01/10/12 Places Mobile: Owner response does not show on iPhones Places Forum Post
01/06/12 Places Dashboard: Hours do not support 24 hr businesses Blumenthal’s Blog Comment Email from Google Support: “The underlying issue is that the system is not taking 12am-12am as valid operating hours” and “After speaking with our technical team members, your hours may or may not be listed as 12am to 12am after the next index push. There is the option not to display hours, which may be better suited for a 24 hours business, such as yourself.” Comment by Helmut: its a matter of the gl & hl-Parameters I believe. For German
listings Place supports 24 hour format.
12/29/11 Places: Owner can’t claim an unverified verified listing.
He will not -as used to be- get the three options “edit”,
“suspend” or “not my listing”
Places Forum Post
12/15/11 Places: Phone number is missing or replaced with Fax number on public facing Places page Places Forum Post
12/15/11 Places: Owner can not respond to reviews if the listing is
claimed into two accounts
Places Forum Post report in the German help forum as in URL-column –
as well as in the English Forum: here. This is an old problem that showed up first in 9/10 here. According to Google it is because there are two account holders and the one trying to answer is not the dominant one. However, given that the problem seems to pop up periodically in clusters it is possible that somehow the secondary account is automatically given prominence.
12/14/11 Places: Owner Review Response disappears Places Forum Post This can occur if the listing is claimed into more
than one account and the other account becomes dominant. Apparently though it can happen to any listing and it happened to Barbara Oliver where the
response just disappeared.
12/01/11 Places: Hours do not update on Place Page in timely fashion It, like the description, requires an index push to
change. Since that can be up to 6 weeks out, the feature is not usable for seasonal changes in hours. I experienced with Barbara Oliver in Buffalo
NY
11/28/11 Places Dashboard: Places Dashboard Stats show 0 Impressions & 0
Actions
Places Forum Post Fix in the works
11/10/11 Places Dashboard: Owner can’t claim a verified listing. The used to be working phone lookup method will not find the business Places Forum Post Europe This is only in certain European countries?
11/01/11 Places Dashboard: Photos don’t work when you try to add photos using a
link from another site
Places Forum Post Public comment from Google- All: We’re working on long-term changes to photos and photo uploads. It’s going to be awhile, so in the mean time, I strongly suggest you upload photos via your listing and manage them from your Picasa Web account.
09/01/11 Places Dashboard: South African Google Places doesn’t work (for 3+
months now)
Places Forum Post Google recommended using the verification
troubleshooter in these cases.
Places: reviews disappear & associate with the wrong
cluster
Places Forum Post Vanessa did a great summary of the bugs & other issues that are currently affecting reviews.
Places: Categories show 10 categories when claimed into two
accounts
Can be resolved via “report a problem”.
It is another artifact of allowing a listing to be claimed into more than one account
Places: A duplicate listing is created IF the claimant
changes too much basic information at the time of change
Feature Or Bug?
Places Dashboard: Preselected State gives error that State does not
exist when creating a new listing
Fix coming
Places Dashboard: Search for an already existing listing bug When a person tries to search for a listing using
the phone number (via the add new business page), the page reverts back without any result, unless they have chosen the correct area language.
Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Catalog of Current Bugs in Google Places and the Google Places Dashboard by

47 thoughts on “Catalog of Current Bugs in Google Places and the Google Places Dashboard”

  1. Another new issue I have found. When all of a sudden a Place Page goes missing and shows up no when searching when it used to, I found that the locator pin is incorrect. Log in, fix the pin and just like that the Place page is back and the search results are good again.

  2. Hey Mike,

    Another one we discovered last week involves photos and the bulk import.

    We verified listing via the bulk import and then went into each listing to make modify the listing for the location, this included added relevant photos (exterior, interior, etc).

    The next time we used the bulk tool, we made sure to download the current information from the listings, so we didn’t lose the localization for the business. When we uploaded the changed listings, including the Google created link for the photo, all photos for any listing re-imported were wiped out from the backend as well as the live listings.

    We’ve notified Google and their engineers are looking into it. In the meantime, we’re testing the Picasa route to see if we run into the same issues.

  3. @Steve
    The upload bug is interesting. I wonder if it is a variation of the 11/01/11 Places Dashboard: Photos don’t work when you try to add photos using a
    link from another site
    bug.

    @Trina

    I am curious what country you are in? Certainly incorrect geo coding can always play havoc.

  4. Mike,

    I’m glad to see the photo’s bug listed here. I have been having trouble with that exact problem with a client. I have tried multiple computers thinking it was a localized issue. It’s a shame as I think having pictures from various authoritative citation sources as well as the listing website helps with rankings.

    Thoughts?

    Chris

  5. @Chris
    I have a hard time thinking it would add authority although anything is possible. I suppose that it might give Google new pathways to crawl and find additional citations but I would assume that photos at authority sites are already crawled regardless.

  6. My theory was more along the line of diversity of photo sources. If a listing has a photo from 3 different sources such as Merchant Circle, Listing website, and lets say a google user then that might be a validation signal to Google more than photos from one source – the owner.

    I haven’t tested this so no real data to support it. I do see several top listings that have multiple photo sources and most with photos from a top citation source. Given that we know Google likes diversity with links and citations it seemed to fit that model. Right now it’s kind of a mental note that it “might” be a good thing to do. Certainly something I will test more once this bug is fixed.

    I appreciate your thoughts. It sounds like you haven’t experienced anything that would validate this.

    Thanks for responding.

  7. Hi Mike,
    We can see in Canada that duplicate listings emerge especially if you use a suite #. Even if you are not making changes to the listing, it appears twice- one with the suite # & one without. It also shows missing details on one of them (such as no reviews) however both of them are under owner verified status.
    Reporting a problem (as the owner) didn’t help us…

  8. @Chris

    We’ve done the same thing. Like you, we haven’t done deep dive tests, but we did notice, when Google feature third party reviews and citation sources on the Places Page, if a major source was missing (Yelp for example), but adding a Yelp photo to the Places Page, the reviews would usually be added to the page within 2 weeks.

    Since we didn’t do a thorough test, it’s just as like that republishing the page kicked off a spidering process or we just had really good timing.

  9. @Chris

    I think having your business mentioned in any way on the web that includes geo encoded information is a win for your business. I think having photos that can be associated with a business cluster at a range of sites is always a win for the business. As Steve pointed out though it is likely that by including the link you are giving their crawlers room to discover the information. I think though that could be achieved via other ways like a post of the image link to a plus page or a public tweet.

  10. @Abby
    That is something that you have only seen in Canada? They never merge? Even if reported as duplicates?

    I wonder if that is because there is such a high trust level in their primary data supplier. Have you tried changing it at yellowpages.ca to see if the problem is mitigated?

  11. @Steve

    I would be curious to know if you noticed a bump in rankings at all when that happened? However, in this case it might very weel be the spidering effect you mention finding the reviews more so than the photo being from a citation source. I’m still curious though.

    Thanks for your input.

  12. @Mike
    There is no consistency with YP.ca since the only listing there that appears as it should be, was duplicate in Gmaps & now it’s even merged with a different business listing (different industry also). Moreover, as far as I tried, you can’t edit the listing in YP.ca once you created it.

  13. We’ve seen mobile numbers being published in listings we have whitelisted even though we have not submitted mobile numbers. They have replaced the business numbers so our clients are getting contacted by mobile phone only.

  14. @anne

    David Mihm recently wrote a post about how Google inserted his Verizon cell number into his Place page.

    I am curious in the cases you have seen if it has been just Verizon or if it has been other cell providers?

    Hadn’t really thought of it as a bug as much as an erroneous level of trust in a given data source… but it could be considered a bug thats for sure.

  15. @chris

    If the linking feature were working it would certainly do no harm and might alert google to a citation they had missed but given the bug you need to make other plans. :) I don’t think you will see different outcomes.

  16. Thanks for the list. This will no doubt save me time answering questions I get with increasing frequency regarding these issues from clients.

  17. @Mike

    We haven’t dug into the provider type yet. I was focusing more on the idea that whitelisted data was being overwritten from other sources. I’ll dig into the Verizon connection more. Thanks so much!

  18. @anne, Mike

    I posted a comment on David Mihm’s site about his Verizon cell issue that Mike mentioned earlier. For the sake of convenience I’ll summarize what you might find valuable:

    This is a field from an Acxiom’s business dataset.

    RBOC Unique Flag
    U = That the record came from the “Public, but not yet Published” source file.

    RBOC stands for Regional Bell Operating Company. Verizon is certainly an RBOC as is AT&T, Bell South…etc. As long as your information at the RBOC level is not flagged as “unlisted” then the RBOC’s sell this data to the aggregators such as Acxiom. However, I wasn’t aware they were doing this with cell phone lines. It doesn’t surprise me though.

    Given the fact that this is “Fresh” data it is sold at a premium. Acxiom and InfoUSA add these records to a “Hot List” which sells anywhere from $150.00 – 250.00 per thousand records.

    Online Directories value these hot lists because they contain “fresh” data to do phone solicitations, direct mail and website updates for better response rate and user experience. I know because we bought this data monthly as a supplemental database to add to the main database.

    It’s my opinion that the trust factor is more that this data is “Fresher” than the existing data that was in your Google Places account and through Googles automation process your data was overwritten. I suspect they purchase this supplemental database monthly or biweekly as well and probably from multiple sources as there is about 14-20% difference in unique records among the different data aggregators.

    Just thought I would share some experience from jobs past =)
    Hopefully it will shed some light on this.

    Chris

  19. Mike, you and I just discussed this, but I’ll add it here to this marvelous list. The search function in the Google Places Help Forum only works about 1/2 the time I use it. This is a real hindrance to users finding data already published about any issue that may be affecting them. Google, with it’s history of dominance in Search, should have the best search box in the world, eh?

  20. I have been unable to resolve the bug where two competing businesses “B” and “C” were once at the same physical address briefly at different times, their data gets combined. “B” is now a minor brand of my company “A” but was my previous official (and only) brand.

    The initial problem was that “my” listing (my photos and testimonials that mentioned me by name) was merged with the testimonials, logo and business name of the earlier occupant. The combined listing made no sense because I didn’t work for my competitor and they would be equally perplexed with my testimonials and photo on their page.

    After reporting the problem, I got my business name reinstated but my competitor’s testimonials are still there, merged with mine, but I cannot edit that entry and move it to my current location two doors down the street.

  21. @Ash

    The merge issue from which you are suffering was such an obvious bug that I forgot to include it in the list. Unfortunately it isn’t a bug from google POV but rather a result of their merge/purge routine to get rid of dupes.. :) Their perspective has been that if the overall data quality improves at the expense of a few merged businesses, that is just the price of big data..

    They have at least finally, finally built tools to allow support staff to untangle these frankenstein records with this Troubleshooter in the Help files.

    The following path takes you to a form where there is really a person at the end of the chain that will actually respond and engage in dialog.

    What’s the status of your listing?
    I have verified my listing in my Google Places for business account.

    Have you tried the Report a problem link?
    Yes (or it is not available on my listing)

    Most reported problems are reviewed within a few days. If it has been a few days and you still have not received a response or seen a change made, you can tell us what you reported by selecting an option below. If you are unable to use Report a problem from the listing, you can indicate what you want to have changed from the options listed here.
    Listing data, including title, address, phone, URL, “at a glance” terms, categories, hours, description, or coupons

  22. Not sure if this was mentioned…

    Google is taking my clients Places pages that have reviews, and auto generating them one without reviews.

    The duplicate page has all of the right information, however no reviews on it.

    If you update the Places page in the account, and press View my listing, it will show you the page with reviews, but doesn’t update.

    For example I added a new video, the Duplicate page with no reviews added the video, but the page with reviews didn’t add the video.

    Also, the Hours show on the duplicate page, but not on the page with reviews.

    To make matters even more.. Silly… One of my clients has a duplicate listing, and the NoReviews one took the B position in the search results, while the Reviews completely changed information and had everything deleted.

    Why is Google deleting all of our reviews… I have businesses that give discounts for reviews, and when they see this it’s pretty fustrating.

    Anyone know what’s up?
    Thanks
    Joe

  23. @Joe
    I left both Dupes and Merges off the list as they are not technically bugs. They are predicted artifacts of the way that Google gathers and assembles data. And there are reasonably well known, if incredibly annoying and tedious, work arounds.

    As for reviews they have their own list of bugs and quirks see this Google post that covers the many review related issues.

  24. Hello

    I have encountered two other strange behaviors, but I am not sure if they can be called “bugs”:

    1: Dashboard is visible and account is active, but when you try to view the page, it says ‘Location not supported”. I didn’t get any official answer from Google yet, although some people think is an indexing issue.

    2.Accounts that have been active before, go into rejected or “in review” status even if no details were changed on the listing itself.

    I am more worried about the first issue tough

  25. @Itay

    I have written about “location not supported” in other posts but it probably should be on the bug list. Sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t a bug. It is a message that is used when a listing is pulled out of the index because it is a duplicate, been merged or tagged as spam. Unfortunately it also shows up on normal listings from time to when the index just can find the listing for some reason… “pinging” the index by simply editing and resubmitting the listing (sometimes 3 or 4 times) usually can solve the problem if it is the later. If it is the former then you may have more work to do.

    Accounts can go rejected at anytime. Review of the listing can happen at anytime although it is more likely to occur when you are editing. But even if you don’t edit it, their bot seems to rotate through the listings and can periodically reject a listing that made it thru the first time. If it goes into review you are likely in violation of some explicit or secret rule. It is up to you to figure out what is the matter and resubmit.

  26. Not sure if this is a bug, but a glitch. I’ve been talking with Linda Buquet about it. Dentists, for example, may only want to have one Places listing and not one for the clinic and one for each dentist. If you report the secondary listings as duplicates you will get a message back saying that they are not duplicates. What is the best way to take the duplicates off if that is what you want to do? I’d love to know what you’d recommend.

    Thanks,
    Kelly

  27. There are no guarantees in this situation but you can claim both listings into your dashboard… change the dentist listings to be exactly the same as the practice listing. Wait for the impressions etc to be exactly the same and then remove the second listing from the account.

    Be sure when you do that, that there are no categories (other than one), photos, hours or other enhanced details in the listing you remove.

  28. Just been hit by a bug! A verified listing (which I can edit in dashboard) is showing as an unverified listing on the place page! Updating in the dashboard does not seem to remove either. Its also dropped the listing from position A to page 2 on maps!

    The last 24 hours seem to have sent Google Places insane!

  29. Gav

    This has been reported in the forums for the past 24 hrs. Obviously Google is working on the back end and the front end. You are best NOT doing any work for several days.

  30. What is the error message you are getting? All of the sudden , I have got location not supported error on 4 of my records although I have contacted Google before and they fixed it.

  31. @itay

    There was a new bug (actually a number of them) but one in particular causing a raft of new “we do not support this location”. They were aware of it and were working to fix it late last night. Hopefully it is fixed by now but…. If not you can try poking the listing by doing an edit/submit several times.

  32. You can add to this that “Physician” is added to “Category” when type of business is listed as a “Pain Clinic.” I wrote them telling them I hope I don’t get sued over claiming to be a doctor… no surprise, no response.

  33. Hi

    I recently came across another issue, wheres you are logged out when you view the page place, so you can’t comment on reviews as owner. When I try to login again , I get a message that maps is not supported for this account. Also, maps doesn’t appear on Google apps, so I can’t activate it. (Probably because someone have chosen the wrong country while configuring apps the 1st time)

    When asking Google to activate it from their side, they replied :

    “It appears that there is another account through which your own email is
    tied to the listing in question. This account has not given your login
    permission to leave responses as the business owner. You need to contact the
    user with administrative access to your listing and enable that feature for
    your login.”

    I guess they refer to the previous SEO company who mangeded the account, but they tell us they don’t have any other accounts they used.Really puzzled here :-(.

    I would really appreciate it if someone could help me here.

  34. @Itay

    It would appear to me that they are referring to you, your permissions in your Google account and the Google accounts administrator:

    Google Places can be enabled by your domain administrator from the Google Apps Control Panel at https://www.google.com/a/your_domain.com (replace [your_domain.com] with your actual domain name). If your organization isn’t using Google Apps yet, you can learn more and sign up today at http://www.google.com/apps/more.

  35. @Mike

    Thank you, but I have already checked this option, it seems “Places” is enabled and visible in the control panel, but maps isn’t… I specifically asked Google to enable it on the original mail I have sent them.

  36. The message does NOT sound like a problem with the previous SEO claimant to your Places page. I would suggest that you contact Google via the Google Help Fix a Problem troubleshooter and initiate a one on one and have them take a look.

  37. Hi Mike, I’ve seen another “bug” that really freaked me out. I enter to a client’s account and there is no data on the dashboard. Not even a 0 on impressions or actions. I dont see any link below the “active” status (the normal “see your listing on google maps” has gone!) and finally there is no way to get to the analytics screen (links were disabled). This is the first time that I’ve seen this. If anyone has an answer I would really appreciate it.

  38. @Ozkar
    Unfortunately I’m afraid it means your listing is no longer active & you have no control on it from that account. Usually you can’t even find it online anymore. From our experience, this listing was declined & that’s an old way of showing it on the account.

  39. @Mike and Team,

    I noticed as of the last two days some serious issues with Google Places listings that cause all the old reviews to be removed from the listing itself (all of which were real and not spam – 6 in total). I think this is due to Google sourcing its data from a variety of sites and issues with the reconciliation process (which must be some form of batch job with a structured sequence). It appears as though a new listing was created, several local directories were associated with it and now the old listing gives the location is not supported error message. Here’s a link to the actual thread on Google Groups:

    https://groups.google.com/a/googleproductforums.com/forum/#!searchin/business/jeremyinraleigh/business/DMm2JyRfhb4/uvskHhDFyIYJ

    Do you all have any insight into this problem or is this the first you are hearing of it?

  40. Adding this to the list as it has been confirmed by a few others.

    Date/Area Affected / Issue: Phone retrieval fails for Hawaiian businesses.

    Reference URL: https://productforums.google.com/forum/#!category-topic/business/technical-issue/UT2dLxg-6Ls

    Additional details: In GPlaces dashboard, upon adding a listing; perform a phone lookup. Any phone number in HI (& Alaska), fails to be found, even though it already exists in Google Maps.

  41. Another issue; 31/01/2013

    I have been trying for 3 days to create a Google places page but the categories will not register or even suggest possible categories when I am typing.
    Clicking the submit button only results in error message that no categories are selected!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Comments links could be nofollow free.