Google Places: You WILL Conform

November 30th, 2010 by

Google Places has been a hot button topic for internet marketers ever since the integration of Places listings into the organic search results.  Yesterday I reported that Google is now displaying Places listings on page two search results, and if that wasn’t enough change for you, Google has begun sending out emails to Places users that it feels have inaccuracies in their listings.

While the corrections seem to be varying in nature, and are in most cases minor, there are definitely some impressive fixes.  Google appears to finally be attempting to unify how you list a business address.  In the past you could list 123 Main Street or 123 Main St, now Google seems to be wanting the abbreviation.  In the past it was also sufficient to use Suite, Ste., or # to list your suite address, but now Google seems to be asking for just #.

Additionally the attack on business name spam seems to be in full swing as it appears that Google is also making recommendations to your business name.  Do you list yourself as Cosmetic Dentist Doctor John Doe?  Google is probably going to ask you to change it to John Doe DDS.

Below is an example of the emails being sent out, I’ve blacked out the address to protect the client, but wanted you to see exactly what sort of changes are being rolled out.

As you can see in the email, not only does Google make the changes VERY obvious to the user, but it warns that if you refuse or disregard the change your listing will automatically be edited at Google’s will.  By accepting the changes you are redirected to a screen to edit your listing.  Once you correct the change it is then sent to Google for further review.

I see this as both a positive and negative shift for Google Places.  I like the idea of uniform business addresses to prevent confusion and duplicate listings, however I have seen some emails where the change requested doesn’t actually have a change, or it is recommending a change of address that changes things from street to drive or trail to drive, etc.  Additionally some requests are telling people to change from the state abbreviation to the full spelling of the state, however Google auto fills in the abbreviation when you create your listing.

While imperfect, this change shows the continued emphasis on local and a continued dedication from the search engine juggernaut to clean up Google Places.

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