Google Will Update Your Google Places Business Listing For You
Google announced on their Lat-Long Blog and Small Business Blog on 13th October the following:
“…..while some business owners may have previously verified their organic listing to ensure that their company information was correct at that particular moment in time, we recognize that amidst all the work that goes into running a successful enterprise, remembering to update their Google Places account may not always be top of mind. Oftentimes, a neighborhood local or a loyal customer is eager to help their favorite business update its online presence when it moves into a bigger space across the street, or extends its hours for the summer season.
That’s why today, we’re introducing a new process that helps streamline the way updates are made to potentially outdated or incorrect business listings. Previously, verified business listings would always reflect the information provided by its owner – even if we received data about an updated name, address, or hours of operation. But now, if a user provides new information about a business they know — or if our system identifies information from another source on the web that may be more recent than the data the business owner provided via Google Places — the organic listing will automatically be updated and the business owner will be sent an email notification about the change. Without requiring any effort on the part of the business owner, we’ll take measures to keep their listing up-to-date if our system determines that the edit is accurate. Of course, if the business owner disagrees or has even more recent information, they can always directly log in to their Google Places account and make further edits.”
So, Google can auto-update your Google Places listing based on user feedback and data scraped from 3rd party sources. This is all part of their drive to offer users the most up to date and relevant information which I’m all in favour of but there are potential flaws with their proposal.
It could open up another avenue for abuse by a competitor who submits incorrect information about a business with the sole intention of sabotaging a Google Places page. There have already been reported cases of competitors notifying Google that businesses were permanently closed (see New York Times article – Closed, Says Google, but Shops’ Signs Say Open) when in fact they were open as normal.
Google states that it will notify a business owner via email prior to the changes being made but what if they are one of the many business owners who are too busy to check their emails from one week to the next, they simply miss the email in their inbox or the email actually goes missing?
As for scraping data from 3rd party sources, this already accounts for a large percentage of incorrect information that is contained in Google Places pages and causes countless problems for businesses.
If Google does make automatic updates which need to be rectified by the business owner how easy is it going to be for them to do so and will they have to re-verify following changes.
Answers to these questions and more will no doubt surface over the coming months but there are already signs in comments on Google Places related blogs and forum posts of many disgruntled business owners who have already been subjected to erroneous changes and are experiencing difficulties in rectifying them.