A Few Ways To Deal with Google Places Problems (Part 2)
Some time ago I wrote the first part of what I hope to become a series – “A Few Ways To Deal with Google Places Problems.” The frequently encountered issues discussed were:
A) “We currently do not support the location” status
B) Missing or incorrect information on Google Places
- Just the additional details missing
- Erroneous or outdated data showing up
A side note has to be done that these solutions are only “possibilities”, and do not work 100% of the cases, neither they are officially claimed by Google. All of them are based on personal experience and are included in these articles as they work in the majority of the cases (more than 50%), but not in all the cases. There are also some problems which no one (probably even Google) could answer to, as they are usually based on algorithmic bugs, and we, the mortal ones do not have access to it.
Although the last sentences might sound scary, there are many blood-pressure-rising issues, which are solvable, although it often requires time, patience and perseverance. Here are a couple:
A) How to deal with negative fake reviews on the Place page:
First, make sure the review is really a fake one. Try to track back and find out who wrote the review. The easiest way to do that is to check the Google Places profile of the user who left it. You have to simply click on their nickname next to the review, and you will be able to see all the history of their Google Maps activity.
After you are sure that the review is fake, you will need to take the following steps:
1. Flag the review as inappropriate via the “Flag as inappropriate” button under it. If possible, get your friends, family, customers, to get it reported too.
2. Go to the Google Places Help Forum and start a new thread, where you would explain what the situation is in detail. Hopefully, a Google Employee or a Top Contributor will notice it and notify the Google Places tech team, so that they would be able to remove it.
3. (Optional) Respond to the review following the rules of appropriate behavior and good tone. You don’t need a controversy with a fake reviewer as you never know what they would do next. Reply politely and try to make the situation look as if you would like to learn more about what the faker is referring to and try showing that you would like to solve the problem personally.
4. Keep reporting the review as inappropriate at least once or twice a week for at least 1 month.
There is no guarantee that the fake review would ever be removed, but these are basically the only steps that a business owner can currently take to protect themselves from negative reviews. As Google themselves claim:
…note that Google Places reviews are a forum for users to share both positive and negative opinions. We do not arbitrate disputes and more often than not, we leave the review up…
B) How to resolve the problem with “Need Action: Rejected” and “Need Action: This listing does not comply with our policy of allowed terms”:
According to Google, a listing being rejected means:
Your listing did not adhere to our Google Places quality guidelines and has been deactivated.
Note: If enough listings do not adhere to our guidelines, this may result in account suspension. At that point, all listings will be marked as Needs Action and a red banner at the top of your account will read Account Suspended.
Google gives the following advice:
Edit your listing so that it adheres to our guidelines, then request reconsideration of your listing within your account.
While the advice is obvious, Google sometimes is reading their Quality Guidelines in ways that are incomprehensible for us, the mortal humans. The most frequent problems that cause rejection are:
- using PO Box as an address
- using toll-free number as the main phone number
- numerous listings created for the same business+location
However, recently Google tends to either directly “Suspend” the listings, or directly reject them with the message “Need Action: This listing does not comply with our policy of allowed terms”. The most frequent causes for this message are:
- using PO Box as main address
- using “locksmith” or related words in the business name, address, categories, or description*
- using words with sexual focus, related to weaponry, drugs or alcohol
- excessive capitalization (using more than 3 capital letters one after another)
*Recently, the usage of “locksmith” related keywords has been resulting in the listing going into “Pending” status.
According to the Quality Guidelines “P.O. Boxes are not considered accurate physical locations”, therefore they are not being accepted. An interesting side note is that in some countries where Google Places is still in its early stages of development, there are thousands of businesses using PO box address as their main location.
While the reason why words implying adult content are being rejected, the story of locksmiths might be interesting to the ones who are not closely following the local search trends. Google has had severe problems with locksmiths spamming the map all across the United States. As the big G was unable to deal with the tens of thousands of spammers, they took the “Solomon” decision to allow locksmiths to join Google Places only after manual verification by a Google moderator. Unfortunately, together with “locksmith” many other related terms were disallowed, including frequently used ones, such as “key”, “keys”, “lock”, which are very often business names of some non-locksmith company.
Furthermore, an interesting fact is that terms that have bad implications in ANY language might be banned by Google. Examples of such would be the word “kitzler” as Mike Blumenthal notes in his “Compendium of Banned Words in Google Places”. The only way to deal with problems like this is:
1. Report the problem on the Google Places Help Forum and hope a Google Employee or Top Contributor will notice it.
2. Report the problem in the “Known Issues” section of Google Places.
3. Report the problem on blumenthals.com/blog.
If you have any of the mentioned issues, or you’ve dealt with such, I would be glad to hear about the case.