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A Few Ways To Deal with Google Places Problems (Part 1)

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If you are a business owner or a person involved into local search and particularly Google Places, the odds are high that you’ve experienced some kind of an error, bug, diverging data, merge, duplicate, the list goes on. Many of the people asking me for advice/requesting my services are having such troubles and I have to deal with the Google’s imperfect work all the time on behalf of frustrated business owners.Google Places Problem

How do I do that?

First, I have to say that the result is not 100% positive and usually does not take place immediately. Depending on the complexity of the problem it might take from 1 day to 2-3 months for it to be fixed. Each glitch has its own specifics, but they could roughly be classified into a few groups:

A) “We currently do not support the location”:

Here is Google’s official statement about this “status” of a Google Places page:

The data on Google is always changing as we update and add more listings and details to Google. From time to time, we may need to take some information offline as we update our algorithm. Please try checking your listing periodically when you see this message. You will eventually be able to see your listing display on Google if it does not violate our Google Places quality guidelines.

Well, I am going to let you in on a little secret: waiting DOES NOT help. There are many cases in which people have waited for months only to give up and start all over again because of this bug. And yes, that IS a bug and very, very rarely it is caused by manual taking of “some information offline”. Maybe the only true word in the statement above is that this error message usually appears during the infrequent monthly updates of the Google business clusters. The easiest way I’ve discovered to fix that is by making minor changes on your Place page data. By “minor” I mean some of the following:

- adding/removing/changing the description
- removing Areas Served (very often cause of troubles)
- adding/removing photo(s) or video(s)
- adding/removing additional detail(s)

“Minor” changes does not mean adding/removing/editing your business name, address or phone number. This is a big “no-no!”

B) Information on Google Places missing or not matching what you’ve input via your Dashboard:

As this is a really serious and widely spread problem, I’d break it up into a few subcategories:

1) Just the additional details missing:

No biggie here. As Google is trying to fight against the spam on Google Places, they have recently started holding off publishing the additional details information immediately after you create your listing. A few days/weeks should pass until it becomes visible to the public. Not much you could do, except going on with the optimization.

2) Some data being different from what you’ve input, but still relevant to your business:

This is due to “inconsistency of business data on the web”. Here is an example: “Bob Plumbing” had operated previously under the name “Bob & Co”, and changed their address a few months ago, but kept their phone number. Some weeks ago they created a Google Places listing with their new information. However, there was another listing on Google Maps with the old data. Later, Google noticed that and merged the two listings. Now all the information in the new, merged listing is correct, except the address, which is the old one. What you can do in such a case: reporting the problem will not help, or if it does, it will be temporarily and then the problem will reoccur. To fix this issue once and for all you will have to perform a search on Google and find all the websites, forums, etc, where your business is mentioned with the wrong/outdated information. Fix these entries by any means – manually editing them, by contacting the webmaster/website owner, etc. Then report the problem via your Place page and wait. Note that reporting frequently and from different accounts/locations DOES help, so if you have such a problem get your whole family reporting it and hope the Google Places employees will look into it soon. You can also report the problem in the Google Places Help Forum and if a Google employee or a Top Contributor sees it, you can expect a faster “salvation”. However, as I said this should not prevent you from updating your business information all around the web.

To be continued…

  1. matthew hunt
    matthew hunt07-13-2011

    Another nice post. I find the ‘We currently do not support the location’ is common in the admin section, when you first activate your listing. Often just waiting day or two and it will adjust. Nice tip on making minor edits to help update the algorithm, it works. However, if you are breaking the terms, like by having local modifiers or keyword stuff in your business name field and you did this before updates during the last year, by editing your listing you also trigger the new places’s algo and your listing most likely will get flagged (unless when you are editing you correct these issues). And yes, have clean NAP info out on the web is essential. So important!

    Can’t wait for part 2.

  2. Nyagoslav Zhekov
    Nyagoslav07-14-2011

    Hey Matthew, yes, sometimes the so-called by me WCDNSTL glitch is caused by a (probably) real manual check up of a new or updated listing. However, most of the times when people complain about seeing it, it just appears after a Google Places update and stays like this forever, unless you “poke” the page a little bit by implementing some minor changes. What you say about the keyword stuffing is completely correct, and it is often the cause of the WCDNSTL for a newly created listing, but rarely for an old and already established one.

    Thanks for the comment!

  3. Sha Menz
    Sha Menz08-18-2011

    I recently had a real problem with the phone verification system when setting up Places for a business client. The system kept passing him 4 digit verification codes which returned a “PIN is invalid” error. I eventually gave in and requested verification by mail. When the 5 digit code arrived, it was accepted without any issue. Do you know if this is an ongoing problem?

    • Nyagoslav Zhekov
      Nyagoslav Zhekov08-18-2011

      Hi Sha,
      Yeah, some time ago there were numerous reports of PINs not working. When exactly did that happen? There was a note from a Google Employee on the Google Places Help Forum that this was a known issue and they were dealing with it. I think it’s already solved as I haven’t had any problems recently.

  4. Sha Menz
    Sha Menz08-18-2011

    Maybe not resolved then as this was just a week ago.
    I did tweet Google to ask if there was an issue, but never received a reply. :(

  5. Sha Menz
    Sha Menz08-18-2011

    No,
    All of the information was still saved in there so I just added the PIN and it was all OK.

    It was a newly created Place page that I created though…there was no listing there for me to claim so I had to create it.

    • Nyagoslav Zhekov
      Nyagoslav Zhekov08-19-2011

      Usually Google does not provide phone verification for new listings. Maybe that was the problem actually.

  6. Dan Dillon
    Dan Dillon11-11-2011

    I activated my places page with the pin that they sent me, however I can’t find my listing under any relevant keyword searches. It shows to be active but it’s obviously not… any suggestions? Type ‘pest control in waco’ for example and you should see Action Services WildLife & Pest Control but you won’t.

  7. Jason Rogers
    Jason Rogers12-06-2011

    Nice! A client’s (attorney) places listing just disappeared last week, yikes! Removed photos and Bam! Back up in 5 minutes.

    Thanks!

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