Be warned: There’s no happy ending when you have a Google Places listing problem.
Sometimes the listing disappears. Other times it merges with unrelated businesses. Reviews disappear. Your listed phone number is your competitor’s. Your business — unbeknownst to you, the business owner — is now closed, according to Google.
Resolution is neither swift, nor guaranteed.
What’s worse is there is no information on why it happens or how to prevent it. I’ve seen it happen to seemingly perfect listings I’ve created and maintained, and I’ve been asked to step in for others after the listing went wonky. And Google customer service, when you find it, borders on infuriating.
Lucky for you, I’ve tried them all so you don’t have to. Here are your options of what to do when you have a Google Places listing problem:
- Go to http://support.google.com/places/?hl=en, and click on the correct link under “Fix a problem.” Fill out the requested information as thoroughly as possible.
- Now wait. Pray, if you’re so inclined. Fume. My experience has been that it takes about 7 months to get things back to semi-normal. I’ve heard from other business owners that it’s been more than a year with no resolution.
- Check out http://groups.google.com/a/googleproductforums.com/forum/#!categories/business/need-advice. However angry you are that your business has been forsaken by Google, there is someone angrier in these forums who’s also in the same boat. Plus, sometimes they have a sharper tongue.
- Google your problem. (Ironic?) Reflect on how this seems to be one of the few things the search engine doesn’t have an answer for, yet they were able to make an 8-bit Google Maps for April Fools 2012.
- Go to Google Map Maker, http://www.google.com/mapmaker, and see if there are any outdated listings for your business, or user-submitted versions with incorrect information. Also, if there are multiple versions of your business, you can report those here.
- Were all your eggs in the Google Places basket? Now would be a good time to make sure you’re listed with all of the other yellow page-type directories of businesses, so you’re not so dependent in the future.
- Realize now is a good time to get more pillars for your marketing plan to stand on — including email marketing, social media, PPC advertising, search engine optimization — so that your site is organically powerful with or without Places. When one pillar fails, like with Google Places, your business can keep standing when you have many pillars. Need help, consult an expert in online marketing.