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Understanding Google My Business & Local Search

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Places Automatic Updates

Thursday’s announcement that Google Places would autmatically update Places data more quickly if Google thought they had more trusted information generated a fair bit of dismay. The words used to describe Google’s action, while occassionaly positive in nature, generally reflected fear and anger:

Unnecessary, Bugs me
Headache, Impending doom
Clusterf***, Very dangerous
This is terrible, Absolutely scary, insane decision

Like death and taxes their is a certain inexorable nature to Google. I have noted in the past that most SMBs are from Venus and Google is from Mars and so it is easy to misinterpret Google’s intent. Sometimes you can fight the reality they have created but usually it is wasted energy. On occasions such as this it might be worth plugging in the universal translator and trying to not just understand what the machine is saying but seeing what you can learn from it.

The computational machine that is Google Places doesn’t pull data out of thin air. The data that Google has in their cluster about your business comes from someplace. In this case it is coming from a source that Google trusts more than they trust you or at least they trust enough to want to corroborate it with you. Whenever Google is willing to share that information with us, there are insights to be gained.

OK, you say, what can I possibly learn from Google mucking with my listing? Well lets look at a few scenarios.

1. You or your client get an email addressed to an old email address suggesting updates to a listing in an account that you forgot about.

It’s a good opportunity to figure out the password, clean out the data and delete the listing from the account. You don’t need it. If it hasn’t snuck up and bitten you yet, it will. That’s where the 8th, 9th and 10 categories are coming from as well as that photo not in your dashboard.

2. You get an email suggesting that an old business street address from 4 years ago is the correct one.

Whoah dude! You missed changing some important citations all those years ago? Maybe you didn’t realize that they would stick around this long, maybe you just didn’t know. Get out there and whack those moles. You will end up with a stronger record and more citations, you can stop the wrong address from creating a second listing for your business at the wrong address. Maybe now you will understand why consumers are complaining about ending up on the wrong side of town.

3. Google is suggesting a change in phone number or business name to your current listing.

Hmm… what trusted source did you forget to update when you changed your name or phone number? Why aren’t ALL of your upstream listings EXACTLY the same?

You can complain, you can bemoan Google actions, you can fear what is is coming next. It won’t change much. My suggestion?

Figure out what the Google machine is trying to tell you and and go out and get it squared away. This is the way the machine talks, plug in the universal translator and get to work.

Learn to stop worrying and to love the automatic updates.