12 November, 2015

Divorce is messy, esp when it’s Google

Right now, before you do anything else, please go check your Google Local page. Check each of the details, very carefully, including the link to your website. Then go to Google Maps and type in your business address.  Is there just one of your businesses listed below the street view or more?

duplicates reappearing in google mapsOver the past several weeks I’ve been seeing a range of weird things happening in Google Local – claimed pages disappearing, old pages that had been done away with resurfacing, and URL’s getting reassigned or reset. What on earth is going on? Why is a local business page fine one day and then broken the next?

What’s going on is Google is divorcing two products it had brought together with a shotgun wedding several years ago. If you had a business on Google, you received (whether you wanted it or not) a profile on the social media platform also called Google+.  That created a lot of confusion and despite efforts to get everyone on G+, masses of people did not defect from Facebook and switch to Google.  It did not catapult Google+ to be “the” social media platform on the planet as hoped.

After  resigned as Senior Vice President, Social, Google decided to break up the Google+ brand into Streams, Photos and the social platform. As part of that breakup, Google also decided to pull Local out of the social side of things and tie it more closely to Google Maps. A good move in my opinion.  And if they can get better consistency in the guidelines between Maps and Local, I’ll consider it a very good move.

tearing apartUnfortunately this break-up has not gone entirely smoothly for those of us who rely on the services they’re separating. It’s at times of transition you can see just how loathe Google is to throw data away. Bad data comes back – sometimes replaces good data, sometimes mixes with the bad, and sometimes sits along side it.

So why did I ask you to check on your listing?  Why does it matter if Google has multiple listings for your business?

new local display

a local pack

It’s all about sending a clear, simple, single signal. You see, the programs that decide which businesses to show in the local pack are written so they don’t show the duplicates.  They do this to discourage spammers who are trying to cheat legit businesses.  But these same programs can’t tell the difference between a duplicate a spammer might make and one that other Google programs have made.

With many of my clients, not being in that local pack can make a significant difference in the number of new customers that walk through the door or call, and anywhere from 5-35% of the visitors to their website.  Not being in the local pack has a distinct and immediate financial cost.

So check now –

  • If any details of your listing are wrong – log in and correct it, and then check back in a few days to make sure your change has taken.
  • If your page has become magically unclaimed, reclaim it and check the details.
  • And if you have a duplicate page that popped up, report it via maps to get it taken down.