It appears that the increase in Place Closed labeling was due to a change on Google’s end and not nefarious community edits. The designation was showing up on both claimed and unclaimed listings. Google Employee Joel has, once again, been providing information and repair strategies in the Forums (Give this man a raise!)
Google Maps Guide Adam has posted an announcement with steps to resolve the dreaded message:
Friday, March 6, 2009 | 5:24 PM
There was a recent change that displays the label ‘Place Closed’ on some businesses. If the label has been applied incorrectly, it can be corrected with just a few steps.For listings that have been claimed and verified through the Google Local Business Center, please sign in to your account and select the Edit link. The editing wizard will appear. Click the Submit button.For listings that aren’t claimed through the Local Business Center, they’re open to community edits. Please select the Edit link below the address and select Restore Place.The listings will be updated within a few days. If you’re seeing something different, please let us know in our Help Forum, posting a link to the listing in question.We’re currently evaluating our usage of the label and appreciate the feedback received in this forum regarding the change.
Maps Guide Adam
These types of events highlight the power and pain that is Google Maps. Google tweaks a bit of code, hundreds if not thousands of small business owners are impacted. Some notice and how many do not? I don’t doubt that the messages will continue to come into Maps Forum well into the future.
Google has, at least, put someone in the forums to answer the question and has offered up a fix. They have also highlighted the fix in the announcement area where it will have prominent display. Those are good things and demonstrate a positive direction in real customer support.
But Google’ solution puts the burden back onto the business to fix the error, an error that the business owner had no part in creating and one that affects their income. One can only hope that the overall general improvement in the index from this action was positive and that the number of affected open businesses was small.