Would love to see you at our next Getlisted Local University!
May 22 - Local University: Syracuse will take place on May 22, 2012 from 8am – 12pm OR 1pm – 5pm at Driver’s Village in Cicero. Your choice of identical 4 hours sessions. Besides the regular speakers (David Mihm, Mary Bowling, Will Scott and myself) the event also includes John Carcutt, the Director of SEO for Advance Digital and co-host of SEO 101 on WebmasterRadio.FM, Lauren Hufnal, a Bing Evangelist at Microsoft and Joel Headley the manager of Google’s Consumer Operations for Places and . If you have questions for Google about Places, Places support and policies this is your chance to have your questions answered.
If you come be sure to introduce yourself to me.
Pricing for the Syracuse event is $129 and with the discount code of MB2012 you will get a $30 discount. To register now visit our sign up page or click the button to the right.
Google has changed the date information attached to a review and switched from the actual date created to a rough estimate of when it was created. The actual date is still visible if you click through to the reviewer. The change seems to create a greater visual sense of whether reviews are coming in over time.
Now if they would just fix the problem of losing reviews. I find it amazing that Google is continuing to release new local products without fixing underlying issues like the problems they have keeping track of reviews and their lack of transparency in fighting review spam…
Google Places is now rolling out a new Offers creation program in the Places Dashboard to accompany the new Google Maps for Android. The product is significantly more robust than the current product and offers a range of creation options. There is an overview and FAQ available the Offers introduction page.
It is now live in my Places Dashboard. Click this image to view a slide show of the creation options:
When you enter the Offers area of the Dashboard old offers are visible but not editable. It appears that older Offers created in the Dashboard will be maintained until their expiration date but can not be updated.
The Offer design interface is very slick and provides simple choices to create the coupon.
Only photos from Google existing library can be used. This is a limitation of your products fall out of the narrow range they have chosen.
You are allowed to limit the total quantity of offers available, the timeframe they are available and whether a user may re-use the coupon. Interestingly the offer can be limited to only certain days of the week.
The management interface shows how often the offer was saved by users and how often it was redeemed.
New offers are currently only appear on Google Maps for Android, Google Offers and Google Wallet apps. As far as I can tell they are not visible on the desktop and have no presence on the iPhone.
An offer can be easily edited after creation to change the expiration or distribution settings in the original offer.
An interesting note in the How it Works area of the Offers area notes that offer is only free during limited-time trial period. (bold mine)
This product is significantly more robust than the current product. But it does not appear to be available for display in desktop search and the fact that there is no iPhone version limits its use. What Google’s plans are in either area are unclear at the moment.
Also unclear is whether it will remain free in some capacity and when it does move to a paid model how it will be priced. The FQ notes: Currently, you can create offers from within your Google Places account at no cost during this limited time trial period. You will be notified about pricing details before the trial period concludes.
Offers (aka Coupons) have a long and sorry history in the panoply of Google local products. They were introduced to great fanfare in 2008 and then left to whither with little support and less ability to display them. Over the past year Google has been cleaning up inappropriate Offers but they have never made them more visible. This is only a partial step in that direction.
Given their limited availability on the Android product it would appear that Google is moving them away from the desktop and primarily focusing on their use in the mobile environment. Obviously they would be more valuable if they could be crossed marketed from the main search results and available on all mobile platforms. Hopefully that is in the cards.
Given the recent noise about Facebook reintroducing/testing their Offer product, one has to wonder about Google’s timing of this release and whether they will emulate the idea of making the coupon more visible with payment.
When used in a mobile environment and tied to the new patents that Google acquired for indoor location via Wifi one can easily envision a coupon system that could could offer a given coupon when in close proximity to a participating vendor AND close the loop on the sale (with or without the use of electronic payments). Obviously the potential for relevant delivery and knowledge about when the sale is closed opens up a range of revenue analytic possibilities for Google.
On a more short term note we are seeing the Places Dashboard slowly but surely getting a face lift to come under the new integrated Google UI. First the Adwords Express UI update and now Offers. It is clear that the Places Dashboard (and hopefully Places Analytics) are soon slated for updates as well.
The snafu with the Places index that caused an inordinate number of accounts to suffer the dreaded “We Currently Do Not Support This Location” report for a listing should be fixed by now. But some users may find that they have moved from purgatory into Dante’s circles of hell.
Vanessa noted in the forums that the engineers should have had the immediate problem repaired by today and the influx of new messages has nearly stopped.
The operative word here is nearly. To those still experiencing the problem Vanessa is referring posters to this FAQ where she details why a listing might still be getting the message. She notes the following:
You may be seeing this message on your listing for a couple reasons.
1) Have you just recently verified your listing? Note that it may take up to a week from the time you’ve verified that listing to appear on Google Maps, and during that time your Active listing will say “We currently do not support this location” on it. Please just sit tight.
2) Has your listing been verified and live for some time? Search for it on maps.google.com (“business name, city/phone”). Sometimes the links from your Places dashboard aren’t synced properly, so you should always search on Maps first to make sure it is indeed removed . Often it’s still live and there, you just need to look it up via maps.google.com.
3) If you’ve done a search on maps.google.com and still don’t see it, go to your Places dashboard (google.com/places) and “poke” the listing by clicking Edit > Submit. Give it a couple days, and then again, go to maps.google.com to see if you see it appear live.
4) If none of that helps, then your listing has been removed from Google Maps. If you believe your listing should not have been removed, get in touch with our support team:
Select: I have verified > Yes > My listing no longer appears > Fill out the short form, hit Submit, and await an e-mail from a member of our support team (it may take a few days).
Issues 1-3 are all temporary states from which your listing can and will easily recover. I would however direct your attention to point number 4. The implication of the message is that Google feels that your listing should be removed from the visible index for some sin real or imagined.
In the past I have referred to this state as purgatory. However purgatory assumes that you have or can redeem yourself and achieve a state of grace.
This penalty, occurring at a listing level rather than at the account level, might actually assume that purgatory is not appropriate punishment and the reality may be that you have entered the eighth circle of the inferno instead.
Any promotion, marketing, contests, or other giveaways should clearly link to the terms of the activity and provide clear guidelines and qualifications. All such promises, given or implied, should be adhered to.
This is an odd Guideline in a number of respects. At this point there is no obvious way to run contents or giveaways on Places and even if you figured out a way to do so (via Offers or Updates) it is not clear that you would be able to include a link. I have asked Google for clarification as to what exactly this new guideline applies to.
I have not been very present of late. I had some health issues that have been resolved which kept me from posting. For the past nine days I have been speaking in the Northwest and while I have had time to eek out a few posts I haven’t been very present in the comment sections.
Thanks to all of you that kept the conversation going in my absence (Linda, Dave and many, many others). You are a great community!
Linda Buquet notes that in some situations (where you have not received the start over email) Google is still apparently resuscitating some suspended accounts.
From the post:
Your account’s been suspended. See my response on this other related thread:
Listing not live on Maps anymore, or, it is live and it’s not owner-verified? Use this contact form and …
Select: I have verified > Yes > My listing no longer appears on Google Maps. > Fill out form, hit Submit
Listing live on Maps, and owner-verified? Use this contact form and …
Select: Someone else has verified the listing > Fill out form, hit Submit
Give support a few days to get back to you, they’re working through a lot of tickets right now.
You are up, you are down… if I had to interpret this very mixed messaging…. it sounds as if there are suspensions and then there are suspensions… ie soft suspensions and hard suspensions. Soft suspensions for example might occur if a listing is claimed into two accounts and the wrong account is flagged or if the listing was suspended due to minor violations and still appears in Maps.
My suggestion at this point: request reinclusion, wait for the response. If they note that there is no hope, start a new account with a new listing.
I received an email from email@example.com. They are requesting a scanned copy of my business lisence. They sent the request to my business email and not to the email I used to create my listing.
I just want to know if this is a legitimate request and not some scam.
Google Community Manager Vanessa confirmed that it was really Google that was in fact asking for a business license:
Just to confirm: Yes, that request is from the Google Places support team.
This is the first report of Google going so far as to ask for a business license. The reasons for the action are unclear. Was there a question of a guideline violation or was it to settle a dispute as to who actually controls the listing? I have no idea.
I am of two minds about the procedure. I am a big proponent of Google cleaning up the index and this is certainly a way to do that. In the case of wildly abused industries like the Locksmith business it makes complete sense. But it is perhaps too intrusive and makes certain assumption about what is a business and might throw too much wheat out with the chafe.
Dave Oremland of felt strongly that this was incredibly intrusive and inappropriate:
I found this stunning, again as a business operator and as one with current issues with g places…and essentially its black hole non responsiveness.
A police or govt. official might ask for a business license. One incredibly unhappy customer out of thousands might do it. If you were in court it might be requested. Nobody else ever asks to see it. We have over 100 years of business ownership for our several businesses.
Nobody asks for it. Google, from its engineering cocoon, disconnected from the real world, and unwilling to establish direct contact through people, is using its power to force businesses to do something nobody else would do. Not all businesses can scan information, not all businesses will have a license.
What do you think? Is this an inappropriate intrusion or is it a great way for Google to start cleaning up their index?