Understanding Google My Business & Local Search
Google Places And Their New Rejection Algo – It is like 7th Grade All Over Again!
Many years ago, on a Saturday night bus ride home from a 7th grade basketball game, I experienced the first, most exciting & most memorable make out session I can remember. It was with Mary G. I had always liked her but just never imagined that I could rise to “her level”. All of that weekend I was floating high with the excitement and expectation. On Monday morning, in first period class, I gave Mary my class ring and we were officially going steady… My high extended throughout the day with visions of the “future” titillating my imagination. I was successful beyond my wildest dreams.
But all good things come to end. Sometimes more quickly than we hope. In 8th period, a gofer/friend of Mary, her proxy, gave me back my ring. Rejection was hard. As fast as I had climbed the ladder of 7th grade “success”, I came crashing down.
In June of this year, Google Places introduced a new, much more aggressive listing level spam review process in the Places Dashboard. Your once flying high listing that was bringing in customers by the droves now may be buried deep within the listings or worse, banished from the listings altogether. Rejection is hard now too.
The new review can occur if you touch your listing for some reason and bring it to the attention of the new system. But it also seems that it can even occur if you don’t touch your listing. The new algo apparently is being applied on a rolling basis to every listing in Maps.
Andrew of SQLPerformance, a local listing consultant, has done an excellent job of summarizing many of the attributes of this new rejection review system in the forums and I am reproducing his post here.
Google now has a ‘Rejected’ algorithm which runs against all changed listings and perhaps on a rolling basis existing Active listings. This will mark your Places entry as ‘Rejected – Needs action’.
The main trigger is using any word in the business name, address and categories in the description or additional fields so you need to review these carefully before submitting any new changes.
Read the business guidelines in the Help Listings.
You are only allowed up to 3 capitals together to allow LLC or LTD on a company name.
Where you have more like LASIK you have to use Lasik or lasik.
If you use say MyWebSiteName as your business name for Places you need to make it “My Web Site Name” or “Mywebsitename”. I would use a proper person friendly meaningful name which says ‘What you do and where you are on the tin’ and not a URL for the business name on-line.
Also in the description the sentences should not have any embedded capitals and be semantically meaningful so use synonyms for your category words.
You cannot use the word google in a Places entry, weirdly you cannot use a google site.
The nanny bot will not allow various ‘naughty’ words such as a category of ‘Sexual therapist’.
You may need make a new entry and cut and paste the contents from the Rejected listing and when you get it to go to the verify by PIN stage then you are following the guidelines, but only for non-locksmith or non-naughty words or embedded google site entries which need manual review. Make any changes to the Rejected entry and delete the new one.
It is really up to you to submit an entry which is allowed and you need to make a re-quest here for a review:
Because entries for Locksmiths and ‘medical weed’ OWHY need manual verifying by a google employee then if you make any small changes subsequently you will need that again. This can take several weeks.
Although a third of existing ‘real’ entries will be Rejected eventually google seem to want to manually review any Rejected entry which after changes conforms to the guidelines and this can take several weeks. I can see no logical reason for this.
Andrew has essentially nailed the new process. I would add some details to his documentation.
He notes: “”I would use a proper person friendly meaningful name which says ‘What you do and where you are on the tin’”
I would suggest that 1)it is in violation of Google’s guidelines but more importantly 2)will, while providing a short term rank boost due to the keywords, will ultimately lead to a reduced rank (due to cluster ambiguity) and a possible penalty as well. For best long term sustainable success it is optimal to use the actual business name and go thru the hoops to get it reviewed if needed. If need be assess your business name and legally change it. Be cautious doing this as you need to rename yourself in such a way as to not precipitate cluster splitting and that respects your local name equity. (See my post on Renaming your business for Local. )
The “nanny bot” that Andrew speaks about, is a field level filter that prevents further editing of a listing until the offending word is removed. The Dashboard will not allow you to save the record with the offending word intact. Because the impediment is at the field level, it is difficult to work around and it appears that the only option is to remove the word or request a review in the forums. Certainly an unpredictable course at best. For some words like “Sex Therapist” the reason is obvious. For others, like the word “Fountain”, not so much. The problem is that once the record is cleared, if you go back and resave the record, for any reason, the problem will recur.
One of the vagaries of the new system is that Google’s new rejection checking algo, on occasion, will issue a “false positive”. This means that despite your every effort to follow the guidelines, it will stamp your listings as spammy even though it is not. If this occurs your only options are to post in the forums and hope that the listing is elevated to a Guide or to request reinculusion via Google’s form for dealing with troubled listings as noted in their help article.
“Pending” status now replaces the previous “Flagged waiting for content check”. “Pending” often appears on a temporary basis for 24 hours prior to an algo based rejection. However if it lasts for more than 24 hours it means that the record is in fact heading off for human review. This review can often take up to four weeks or more. If the listing has sat in a pending state for more than 4 weeks, Google provides a form to request a review.
There is a new “suspension” state that accompanies the new system. Previously, “suspended” accounts could not get into the Places Dashboard to review or edit their listing. Now, if the guideline violating activity applies to the bulk of the listings, the listings will be rejected and a notice of suspension will appear at the top of the account. In this situation, editing the listings and removing any violations will still result in immediate rejections regardless of the quality. The listing can only be reacitivated after the account has been reviewed and the suspension lifted. Reconsideration requests are made via this form.
The system offers some improvements over the previous flow. Being able to get into a suspended account to review and revise makes sense. Having a contact form, even if its location is not obvious, is a step in the right direction. The problems though are still many. The flakey word filter, the lack of feedback and the guessing game about the rejection status made all the harder by the occasional false positive make the system very difficult to navigate for many.
Rejection is hard. Who knows why Mary G gave me my ring back after 8th period. Maybe she had her reasons, she never did say. The world seemed confusing, messages came via unwelcome proxies, the path forward was often unclear, the feedback was non existent. With Google Places and their new rejection algo, it is much like being back in 7th grade.
The advice that someone would have given me then is the same I will give to you now: Hang in there. It will get better….. someday.
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