Businesses Lose Control of Their Info on Google Places

Ryan Leslie
http://www.marketingvox.com/businesses-lose-control-of-their-info-on-google-places-049958/ http://blumenthals.com/blog/2011/10/14/google-places-now-updating-your-listing-automatically/ I have just two questions: If Google does not trust you to provide contact info that is accurate for your business, why are you trusting in Google Places alone as a Reputation Management tool? The implications of this change are dramatic. Any user now has the ability to influence your info. Anybody see a potential for abuse here, and if not abuse, massive amounts of difficulty preserving even your basic contact info? I just got off the phone with a dealer that received this alert and the URL is wrong.... Why are you putting all your eggs in the Google Place page basket when you can't hold the handles? Google does not care that you claimed your page, they are openly saying that they value 3rd party content and user data for accuracy MORE than that of the business owner. Why else would they override information supplied by a designated adminstrator of a "claimed" page? Did the PIN and phone verification mean nothing? I simply do not understand how a consultant could in good conscience suggest a "Google Only" approach to reputation management at this time. This latest change underscores the necessity to be diversified in your approach, but also highlights just how volatile the Places landscape really is right now. If you are trying to leverage reviews you should be considering the impact of these changes. I'm not trying to be melodramatic, but I think this is a wake up call... I'm interested to hear any other opinions.
Brian Pasch
Ryan The notices are part of a transition that Google has in mind that will eventually transform what we know as Google Places to something better. You fail to mention that Google now has a documented escalation process and trouble ticket system that is fixing Google Places issues in a timely manner. In fact, Google has been listening and in the coming months you will see that Google does want businesses to control and leverage their business pages. The visibility, traffic, and advertising opportunities with Google Places FAR outweighs some of the pain that dealers experience as Google Places is transformed. You fail to mention that as a DealerRater employee, it might serve your company well to place doubt in dealers minds about using Google Places. DealerRater and Google Places can coexist in a digital marketing and IRM strategy. Dealers who ignore using Google Places to post reviews will lose significant free traffic, sales, and local relevance. The referral traffic generated by Google Places is often then #2 or #3 organic source, far above any third party review site. Since you create awareness, which I commend you, here are the answers to calm any fears about having ACCURATE data on your business from Google. The two links for Google Places are below. By filling out these forms you will be sending request directly to the Google Places team. Typical turnaround time is 7 business days. Be Patient For incorrect information (or other issues) on any external listing, please visit this troubleshooter: http://www.google.com/support/places/bin/static.py?page=ts.cs&ts=1386120 For difficulties verifying a listing (either via PIN or bulk verification), please visit this troubleshooter: http://www.google.com/support/places/bin/static.py?page=ts.cs&ts=1399021 So, calm down and wait till you see the ultimate plan by Google, is will satisfy the critics.
Ryan Leslie
Brian, Wow. I didn't expect such a defensive and condescending reply from you. "Be patient," "calm down," "as a DealerRater employee (you are trying to) place doubt in dealers minds"...I'm surprised and a little disappointed by that accusation. I'm not interested in a vendor spat, but I feel like it is best to address your reply so that the original point of the post isn't lost. The accusation that I am fear-mongering and placing "doubt in dealers minds about using Google Places" because I work for DealerRater is perplexing. We actively push our reviewers to ALSO post on the Place page, we frame the page in to our site for our certified stores. Your inference that I am discouraging the use of the Place page as a benefit to DealerRater is totally off base. Industry "experts" and "consultants" are responsible for propagating the "Google reviews vs. DealerRater" theory, that isn't us. We quickly adapted and implemented a solution to help dealers when the FTC Antitrust Hearings forced Google to stop aggregating 3rd party content. Part of that solution involves helping dealers get reviews on Google which is far from "placing doubt in dealers minds about using Places." We are doing far more than coexisting. Yes, I work for DealerRater, but my post very intentionally DOES NOT highlight that. I most certainly don't need a lecture on Comprehensive Reputation Management Strategy. As you said, I work for the company that pioneered it in the industry 10 years BEFORE it was this quarter's buzzword and every Johnny-come-lately's newest greatest product offering, and frankly, some of the stuff that is getting passed off out there is just flat wrong. I'm sorry, but let me be clear, we've been doing this with great success for 10 times longer than most have been doing it. Now, does that make my opinion and stated concern less valuable or more valuable?
Ryan Leslie
Look, my post was the direct result of multiple conversations with dealers Friday afternoon and was intended to bring awareness to this latest potential problem area. I'm not selling anything here. I stand by what I wrote. This IS a potential problem. If a Place Page is going to serve any function the basic contact info must be correct at all times. This doesn't read like a one time event, it clearly is an ongoing effort to update listings on behalf of the dealer based on scraped and user-submitted data regardless of the page being claimed, that requires consideration, proper evaluation and certainly some preparation. "Great News...Here are 2 links to help you fix the problems that are about to be created." Really? I am not anti-Google at all, but the reality is that we give them far more leeway than we do any other business. How many times do you want to wait for a 7 day turnaround to correct a listing you already claimed? Just how patient would you be if it were your website provider or Autotrader telling you to jump through these hoops and wait 7 days to keep your phone number listed correctly? If it takes longer, be patient, we'll get to it. If your URL and phone number change on the page you claimed at Google's discretion because you missed an update, it won't matter a damn bit how much traffic you have on that Place page. That is the point of this post.
Ryan Leslie
New User, You joined 6 years ago and this is the only post you've commented on... I'm honored. ;) The eye tracking study that "says it all" had 8 subjects between 18 and 30. In case you missed it, the study had 8 TOTAL subjects. To say that this is a small sample size might be the understatement of the year. The author even says that it is not enough data to support ANY findings. No offense, but you might want to dig a little deeper in your research before you make such a definitive call. "A while back, we got an offer we couldn’t refuse." It appears the data was collected before Google was forced to stop aggregating 3rd party content. Can't be sure about that since the actual date of the study isn't published, but did I mention the entire study consisted of 8 subjects? It is interesting that the review snippets from 3rd party sources have the hotspots, not the star count to the right. Insignificantly small sample size and old data not withstanding, this isn't exactly an apples to apples comparison to how people shop for a dealer. I order pizza once a month, I buy a car once every 3-5 yrs. There are 100 more incongruences but let me say this, if you are waiting for an unsold prospect to find your Place page you've already missed at least three opportunities to influence their purchase using review content that a DealerRater certified competitor capitalized on. Back to the point of the post. I'm all about "ensuring the accuracy of information," but I trust the business owner that invested the time and energy to claim the page to keep the data current much more than I trust a 3rd party scrape or worse, a user who's motivations are unknown. It is CRAZY to me that Google is overwriting Business Owner's data on claimed pages! I'm not looking forward to the headache that this newest policy is going to cause and "we'll get to it in 7 days if you report it" is NOT good enough for my dealers.

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