Google Places Comic – Acceptable Outcomes = Collateral Damage or A Direct Hit?

It is hard explaining to small businesses that when their listing merges with their competitor’s business it is a feature of Google Places NOT a bug. Well not actually a feature but a known and predicted artifact of Google’s automated merge & purge routines.

The flip side of removing duplicates is some amount of merging. The algo does not have enough granularity to clearly see that two similar businesses are in fact distinct. It thinks the listings are either duplicates or spam. The more dupes that are removed from the index the more merges increase and vice versa. Google is continually tweaking this algo to minimize merges but perfection in big data is “right most of the time”. In running the routine the overall index might improve by some significant percentage BUT some much smaller percentage of listings will be inadvertently and inappropriately merged with a different listing. It was this “behavior” that motivated me to name this series of Google Places comics “False Negatives”, the name I give to these listings that Google says exist with wrong information but really don’t.

What Google sees as acceptable outcomes are in fact worse than collateral damage to the smb. They are a direct hit on one of their most successful marketing avenues. Google giveth and Google taketh away.

Here is Margaret Shulock’s latest comic in the Google Places False Negatives Series. Feel free to copy the snippet and use on your blog or website.

Google Places Merge Routine - Acceptable Outcomes = Collateral Damage?

“Google Places Merge Routine – Acceptable Outcomes = Collateral Damage” by Margaret Shulock is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Based on a work at

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One thought on “Google Places Comic – Acceptable Outcomes = Collateral Damage or A Direct Hit?”

  1. Well it has hurt us worse than a suspension. AT LEAST we could do a rei-nclusion request. Almost all our listings are merged with other law firms. The key is the use of the words “law firm” in our business name. Places apparently thinks we are all the same. Even firms who do not share space in our building take over our listings and we take over theirs, where we are not located.

    Well I am sure many people think we are all the same (us lawyers). Ashley is working with us now to fix it, but for a year or so, our competitors have been getting our calls from our citation data rankings, and potentially privileged and confidential information could be compromised when someone searches me, and another lawyer pops up for my name, which is exactly what happens. So it actually hurts more than the SBO. It hurts everyone.

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