If you see this email message in your Inbox, don’t overlook it:
“Dear Google Places user,
Google will soon update your listing data on our consumer properties such as Google and Google Maps to more accurately reflect the latest information we have about your business.
We use many sources to determine the accuracy of our listing data and to provide the best possible experience for business owners and consumers who use Google and Google Maps to find local information.
Below is a summary of what your listing(s) will contain once it’s updated in the next few weeks. This will be visible on your Place page and listings across Google properties, but it will not be reflected in your Google Places account.”
Confused by this? You are not alone. We claim Google Places listings to ensure accuracy of our business information. Isn’t that the point of an owner verified listing?
Granted, there are a lot of spammy local business listings out there, and we’ve heard many times that Google wants to provide users with accurate information. But each business owner should be the final authority on information provided about their business. A listing should not be changed without that business owner’s approval, nor should the owner be forced to stop an unauthorized change before it automatically takes place. It seems Google is opening a big can of worms.
In investigating why one of our client’s traffic from Google Places dropped we discovered that a company in the referral business had set up a listing on another local resource website using that clients’ business name. The listing showed the referral company’s website URL and contact information rather than our client’s.
Worse, the client’s OWNER VERIFIED Google Places listing had been overwritten to show the referral company’s logo as the primary image, and the logo was linked to the other resource’s incorrect listing.
The referral company had basically hijacked the owner verified Google Places listing! We claimed the listing on the other resource site and revised it, but then had to place a call to get the changes to stick. We still must wait for the Places listing to once again show our client’s logo, but at least now when visitors come to the Places listing they can click through to the other resource website and it can send them to the client’s.
This isn’t the only instance of Google overwriting an owner-verified Places listing. We’ve noticed incorrect primary categories added, too — ones that could easily confuse searchers.
I suppose sending the email shown above now gives verified business owners the opportunity to stop their listings from being changed — if they notice the email and take steps to prevent the listing from being revised. But this also tells me that there will be many more instances of those listings being overwritten.
Have you noticed a change to your owner verified Google Places listing that you didn’t authorize? We want to hear about it!