Last week I caught a good read over at the Huomah SEO Blog called, A small business guide local web marketing. Author Charles Stankovitch did a thorough job of teaching readers how to tap into the local market on sites like Google, Yahoo, Bing and Yelp, as well as a handful of other local sites. But the irony of the situation was that shortly after the post went live, Google had gone in and made some new changes to the local interface. Charles quickly commented on his post alerting readers of the changes, as well as some other current findings, but I thought I’d take a moment to outline some of the changes in regards to editing live business listings in Google Maps.
Above is a typical Google Maps business listing as it would appear in any typical business search. To most it probably looks no different than the listings looked prior to the change, but if you look a little closer you’ll notice below the business name that it says “Edited”, meaning that someone has made changes to this business listing. You’ll also notice that at the bottom of the listing it tells you when the listing was last edited and gives you the option to view the original listing. These changes seem to be merely aesthetic to give insight into some of the new internal features, since I really don’t see how they add any additional value to the average searcher other than to say, “Hey something’s changes, this may or may not be reliable”.
The major changes come in once you click on edit. In the past clicking on edit would give you one of two options. You could either claim the listing or it would tell you to login to make changes to the listing. There really wasn’t any true editing option. But with the introduction of what Google is calling “community edits” you can now make a number of adjustments to a business listing, so long as it isn’t already claimed by the business.
Move marker is pretty self explanatory. It allows you to change the location marker of the specific listing. If you feel that Google’s marker placement just isn’t quite accurate enough for your liking, you as a Google Maps user can go in and adjust it’s placement. These changes are instantaneous assuming you didn’t move the marker more than 200 meters. The great thing about this feature is if the business is in a large building with multiple offices or entrances, you can click and drag the markers to the specific entrance or location associated with the business listing.
This new feature allows you to instantaneously edit any details about a business on the fly. Signed in or signed out Google maps users can change the name, physical address, phone number, website, and type of business all from within the Google Maps window. The plus side to this of course is that if you are loyal to a business and wish to help them out a bit if they haven’t claimed their listing you can make sure they are being properly represented on Google Maps. That bad thing about this is that people can maliciously change your information with a single click of a mouse. Imagine having your competition change your company website to theirs or changing and removing information to make it harder for potential customers to contact you. It’s not clear if Google has safeguards in affect to prevent this, but it’s definitely something to consider and one more reason why you should make a point of claiming your business listing in Google Local and the other local platforms.
Are you finally getting around to claiming your business listing and you’re curious to know what people have done to your listing up until this point? Google is now letting you see the details about your listings history, including when it was changed, where markers were moved from, and even who edited the listing. The last part I found to be the most interesting and made me wonder if there was some way to opt out of this aspect of the new “community edits”. For instance I made an adjustment to a listing just for the sake of this post and then reverted the listing back to it’s original state and would rather Google not display my information. At this point it doesn’t appear to be showing my information, and the only Google profile listed is for the person who last moved the marker. At this point I am uncertain as to whether or not Google will display your information for ALL local edits or just users who have changed a marker.
Overall I think the changes are minor in terms of impact for users who have already claimed their listings. The only new golden feature provided to Local Business Center users is the opportunity to link to your business coupons. Businesses who haven’t claimed their listings on the other hand have a lot more here to consider. If you haven’t claimed your listing you are leaving yourself open to tampering or adjustments that could impact how potential customers may find you not only on the web, but in terms of physical location.