Google Maps quality team – this is for you…
dodgy local listings
I’ve had to report quite a few dodgy listings I’ve found this week.
A number of affiliates, claiming to be the actual companies they’re selling for, are using addresses close to the actual business address. One I have seen is using the actual hotel address but with pictures of the nearby train station and a link to the affiliate site (it was actually listed as a electrical engineering company until yesterday). Clearly this is not right but when I reported it I was told that it’s an owner verified listing so it wouldn’t be changed without the owner’s consent! Clearly the hotel owner did not want this but the Google Maps team don’t seem to be able to make this distinction…
These listings are spam, and done purely to game the system. It’s a bit like old skool SEO; you can get away with a lot in Google Maps and get results.
google: local listings are important
The change in focus from Google over the past year has been to include more Maps (Local, Places – whatever you wish to call it) listings into the main results. Personally I think the first iteration of this, with blended Places and organic listings, actually worked quite well. I’m sure Google had data to say it didn’t, which is maybe why they changed again.
Places is supposed to be great for the little guy – now they can compete with the larger companies and their multi-million pound budgets. Well, that’s what Google are suggesting anyway. However, the reality is that the Google Maps system is pretty difficult to use and very inconsistent. Should you show your address details if you have a brick-and-mortar shop but travel to your customers? You’d better get it right otherwise you won’t be part of the mix any more. What about the reviews brought through to Google Maps from other services? These seem to change on a weekly basis (think TripAdvisor now not being shown).
I’ve seen listings suspended for months for making the tiniest change – not ideal if you are a local business and rely on these listings for your custom.
I was looking earlier today for directions – and this is what prompted this rant – to a client office in Bradford. As you’d expect I checked in Google Maps and noticed on the left-hand side “Places” in Bradford. One of these was Harrods. I think we can pretty much all say that we know where Harrods is, and actually the address (in London) is still correct on the listing but for some reason Google thinks it’s slap bang int he middle of Bradford. No offence to the people of Bradford but I’m not sure Harrods would be the success it is if it was there!
My point being that if they can’t get Google Maps right for one of the most iconic businesses in the UK how on earth do they get it right for the plumber/sparky down the road who relies on this service to find his customers? You say perhaps he shouldn’t rely on this but this the situation we are in and the service that Google sells to these people.
You can recreate this by searching for Bradford and about 50% of the time you will see Harrods listed as a place in the left hand side.
Google Maps team: please, please get this situation sorted out. And when we give feedback: listen!