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Understanding Google My Business & Local Search

In the Trenches Of Local: SF Florist’s Maps Listing Goes Missing

Update 2/10/2009: The records returned to some state of normalcy. Since 7:00 am EST (and it is now 3:00 pm) the record is visible and working properly. Would love to hear from Maps Guide Jen where this puppy went. 🙂

Update 2/9/2009 1:30 EST: Whoaah….hold on there partner. Save the kudos for later. The record for Podesta Baldocchi seems to be disappearing once again! The correct listing currently has disappeared from Maps again. If you select the reviews link for Podesta in the listing returned on the search Flowers SF, CA in the Local 10-Pack it doesn’t take you to a Maps listing. My conclusion: Valentine gremlins have made their way into the Google index.

Update 2/7/09: During the night the primary listing for Podesta Baldocchi Flowers has returned to the index with reviews and Local 10 Pack placement intact.

I first met Marc Rovetti of Podesta Baldocchi Flowers, San Francisco in the aftermath of the Google Map’s florist hijackings last September. He runs one of the most respected floral shops in the Bay Area.

Recently, there have been a few reports in the Google Maps Help Forums of records going missing in the Maps index. When Marc emailed me several days ago with this problem, I took notice. His record has completely disappeared from Maps and thus from the Local 10 Pack. Given that the biggest flower shopping season is shortly upon us, Marc wondered if anything could be done. Given Google’s lack of customer service, I had to respond that his only choice was to post in the Help Forum and even though I am not religious, to pray. Neither has worked and it once again demonstrates the power that Google wields and the impact that it has on our everyday lives.

This issue speaks to the question that Marty Himmelstein has been addressing at Screenworks about the need for a factual content layer in Local. It also speaks to the need for more customer service options and accountability on the part of Google.

Here is a recent interview with Marc of Podesta Baldolcchi Flowers:

MB: Tell us about your business in San Franciso….how long have you been at your current location?

Marc: We have been in business in San Francisco continuously since 1871 and have been at our current location since 2001. Our most well known location in SF was 224 Grant Avenue where we were featured in Hitchcock’s Vertigo 1958.

MB: How did you learn about your Google Local Business Listing?

Marc: I learned about Google Local Business Listing from a florist friend of mine in San Francisco. We signed up a few years back have always been listed in the 10 pack usually around c and d.

MB: Do you do much on-line marketing besides Google Local? If so where and how?

Marc: We do use Yahoo and CitySearch ( Yelp until recently) for exposure to other veins of potential clients. We also market back to our clients via email.

MB: When did you notice the Local 10 pack and Maps record had gone missing?

Marc: After we experienced the floral hijacking a few months ago I check the 10 pack each morning as well as the listings below them by typing in “flowers San Francisco” The listing completely disappeared on Wednesday February 4th, 2009. I am not sure if it was there on Tuesday afternoon. We are however listing below the 10 pack (in the main search results) as I can see our website etc… This shows one or two placements below the 10 pack on a regular basis and hardly ever moves.

MB: What percentage of your business do you estimate that you get from your Local 10 Pack listing?

Marc: We get about 30% of our business from the 10 pack listing. It might actually be more but this is a fair estimate.

MB: Are you familiar with Adwords? do you use them?

Marc: Yes, I am familiar with ad words and we do use them. We could do a better job and this is always a work in progress. I fully understand the importance of being proactive and vigilant about the internet and being such a well known entity having online exposure with Google is essential for our clients to find us. We have long since dropped our print advertising as our clients use the web.

MB: Do you have a backup plan?

Marc: We have, because of the nature of the economy, already battened down the hatches. We have not replaced employees as they departed and we have a great repeat business from our traditional customers. We are glad to not have all our eggs in one basket.

MB: Any closing comment?

Marc: Its frustrating because we have done all of things that Google has asked, we claimed our listing and we run adwords and poof! Our listing is gone. It appears that I am not the only business experiencing this problem. I am coming up on the biggest holiday of the year and I am gone!