Google Places Opening Up to Public Updates
Maintaining an accurate local search listing for your medical practice in Google Places may have just become a little harder. Your Google Places listing appears in the Places Search section of the Google search results page and is associated with your Google Maps listing. Google creates a listing for you based on information it gets from your medical website and third party sources, and then allows you to claim the listing and update it as the business owner.
Unfortunately, many businesses claim their Google Places listing but fail to keep the information accurate. With the release of iPhone 4S and the close integration of its new voice recognition package Siri with local search services like Yelp, Yahoo, CityGrid and Localeze, the threat of inaccuracy in Google places has taken greater significance and a new strategy from Google to keep business information up to date has launched.
Google will now use information gained from user reports and other undefined sources to update address, hours and name data in Google Places even for claimed and verified businesses. When Google is about to update a company’s information, it will email the business and give it a chance to prevent the changes from going into effect.
Medical practices that miss the email or do not have control of the email used to claim their business page in Google Places face the challenge of dealing with malicious changes to their local listings. Numerous instances of businesses incorrectly listed as permanently closed as a result of crowdsourcing have received national attention asthe full implications of user updated information begin to materialize.
While Google has announced additional measures to ensure the accuracy of user submitted data, the system seems open to spammers and competitors to create problems. Maintaining tight control of your Google Places page is the best advice available to all business owners while we see just how great of a threat these new changes present.
The Google advisory email to watch for begins like this:
“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.”
Intended changes are then listed and a grace period is given for the business owner to log into their Google Places account and stop the changes.
The new Google Places updating system is being rolled out incrementally. At first, only a few listings will be affected. Soon all of the Google Places listings will be under the new system’s umbrella. The changes will not affect AdWords or AdWords Express listings, but will encompass all of the other aspects of Google Places.