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Understanding Google My Business & Local Search

Google Plus Box – Where does the (wrong) data come from?

One of the more vexing problems in local search has been erroneous address & phone data showing for a bricks & mortar location in the main Google search results in the Plus Box. For a screen shot of the issue click here.

Small business owners have flocked to the Google Maps for Business Group in search of answers on the apparently untrue assumption that the data in the Plus Box comes from the Local Business Center record.

I recently theorized that the primary source for this erroneous information was the business website itself. That seems true as far as it goes. Apparently though there are other web “signals” that will trigger the Plus Box and if a business has relocated in the past several years it is likely that the information will be wrong, even if the website and the Local Business Center record has been correctly updated.

This recent request to the Google Maps for Business Group motivated me to look deeper into where this information might come from if not the business’s website. It appears that the source is either a high page rank directory site with a Maps API display or one of the many Yellow Page resources that Google uses as a secondary, confirming source for address information.

The upshot is that the (incorrect) Plus Box data appears to come from:
•Your Website
•Secondary business listing data suppliers to Google like the YellowPages
•High PageRank Directories that use a Google Maps API to geolocate the incorrect address

These sources would need to be changed for Google to “get it right”. There may be other sources but a creative search of Google should turn those up. I would suggest your prioritize your “cleansing” efforts by the list above. In this particular case, I found 62 web references to the wrong address. I do not think that all need to be changed.

Clearly Google could simplify this correction process in a number of ways. They could simply prioritize Local Business Center data when they have it. Barring that choice, they could provide details as to the sources of their data so that it could be purged more easily from the index.

The current system of begging in the Groups is obviously an inadequate response to a problem that from the SMB’s perspective is pressing. It is particularly so when customers end up at the wrong address due to the erroneous Plus Box. In these cases the business complaint should be addressed immediately and the business treated as a partner that helps Google generate accurate data.

Here is the original query from the Maps Group in its entirety and my research and response:

Hi Jen/Brian,
I have a problem when doing a natural google search for my business. If you search my business from – ‘at home in the valley’ it comes up with the incorrect address.

Google Search: At home in the Valley

It comes up with a clickable link saying ‘Map of 16780 Stagg St, Van Nuys, CA 91406’, and this is the wrong address. However if you click the link it expands to say:

A Warehouse Full of Rugs at Home in the Valley—
16780 Stagg St
Van Nuys, CA 91406
(818) 780-4663

And in that the top line ‘A Warehouse Full of Rugs at Home in the Valley—‘ is a clickable link. Now if you click that link it takes you to my google maps listing with the correct address. So I have been trying to fix this for a while and I have had countless postcards sent out fixing the old addresses i could find in google maps and now I am stuck because there are no more incorrect addresses left in google maps when you do a business search for ‘at home in the valley’ in ‘van nuys, ca’.(Maps Search: At home in the Valley)

However my incorrect address is still on So now I am just confused as there is nowhere left with that old address. I have even signed up with google adwords just to try get a correct listing on the page next to or on top of the incorrect one.

Here are my business details:
At Home in the Valley
16780 Stagg St,
Van Nuys, CA 91406

At Home in the Valley
16531 Saticoy St
Van Nuys, CA 91406

Please get back to me and let me know what I need to do to get this fixed as it has gone of for long enough now.

At Home in the Valley

My response (some redundant elements removed):

Hi athomeinthevalley

I have been following your thread in Google Groups and have done some research on the issue of where Google gets “signals” for content of its PlusBox.

I have convinced myself that it does not come from the Local Business Center, even though that would be logical. The Plus Box is from the organic side of the Google house and only picks up its signals from the greater web. Why that is I don’t know.

I had though that the primary signal was from the business’s main website (see my post: Google-and-the-plusbox-blues). That appears to be true as far as it goes but it doesn’t explain your situation.

Clearly Google is picking up “signals” for this data elsewhere on the web.

The search:

Google Search: Stagg + 4663 (Your old street address and a snippet of your phone number)

Shows 62 websites that have your old address. I do not think that Google uses all of them equally. I believe that there is a trusted status that some of these data aggregators have and thus Google gives some of them more priority in the info stream than others.

There are several that you should get changed and see if they affect your listing (it will take 6-8 weeks, god I hate saying that and can’t say it without a touch of irony)

1)This listing has a pagerank of 3 AND uses the Google Maps API to locate your business….a very clear signal:

2)After you get that one changed (if you really want to do this scientifically, wait and see if the above has much affect) I would start on the erroneous yellow page listings as I think that Google has a trusted relationship with most of them. Note these:

There are others: yellowbot, localask etc that seem to have your old address and could be significant.

3)Once Iyou have dealt with those I would review the others in the list to see which ones use the Google Maps API and deal with those.

4)In addition I would check with the primary data sources that Google uses to see if one of them still has the incorrect phone number as that may be feeding the above yellowpages and or Google. Correct as necessary. These are:

I realize that this is a lot of work but you seem motivated.

How long has it been since you moved your business? The reason that I ask is that the data may eventually fall away as the yellow pages etc catch up with you…strange in the internet age but possibly true.

Let me know how you make out. I would be curious to see the results of your experiment.

Mike Blumenthal