Dan Wakefield runs YardRents.com, an innovative Portland based tool rental firm that directly delivers yard tools to homeowners for their use. His firm, being a service business with his address appropriately hidden on Google Places, suffered the ”We Do Currently Do Not Support This Location” problem that inappropriately removed businesses for the second time in a month (yes Google suffered the exact same problem last month but not as badly).
His tale captures the issues that an SMB faces when Google loses their listing and accurately reflects Google’s current (inadequate) response to the recurring problem. He unfortunately learned the hard way that diversification of review and marketing resources is necessary in a Google world. Read what he has to say:
We had our places profile for several years then we got the “We Currently Do Not Support This Location” at the same time everyone else did.
Unfortunately, whatever they did to fix the problem had the opposite affect for us. We have been in a state of “We Currently Do Not Support This Location” for almost 3 weeks. When we look at our places dashboard, we see “Being reviewed – Pending” even though we can still edit information.
Fortunately, Google Places support has been corresponding with us and says that it is a Google technical glitch that’s causing the problem and it is not a result of anything we have done. They won’t tell us when, if ever, this bug will be fixed. We had 56 (5 star) reviews on this profile. It took us nearly 3 years to accumulate those reviews and now they are gone.
The support people created a second profile that is incomplete and has no reviews associated with it. I question the usefulness of a duplicate profile for the same location, but it was their doing, not ours. They have confirmed that the reviews will never re-associate with the new profile, but maybe the old one will come online someday when they fix the bug. As far I am concerned, this is a data integrity problem. It’s funny, if Google were to lose customer data for a few free Gmail accounts then we would hear about it on national news, but lose a few Small Business Google Places profiles and nobody cares (except the business owners).
If there is a lesson to be learned here then it’s “don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” Over the years we have sent every customer to our Google Places profile to write a review and many of them did. Why wouldn’t we? We trusted Google to do no evil. With the blink of an eye all those precious reviews have been lost. We embraced Google 100% and have been bitten because of it.
Going forward, we are sending all customers to our Facebook page to “Like” us and share their experience. Additionally, we intend to fully embrace Apple maps (when they come out), Yelp, Yahoo Local, Bing etc… Spread things around a little. The online equivalent of market diversification. Rest assured, based on this nightmare experience with Google, we will likely not be sending customers to participate in Google Places or Google+ review activity. Funny thing, a fair percentage of our customers actually took the time to create a Google account so they could write the reviews. Yes, they where that happy with our service.
And Dan is probably right. Creating a second listing is likely NOT a good solution to his problems. Your thoughts?