What would you do if Google abandoned Places?
2) You’d stop checking on your Place Page stats each afternoon.
3) You’d stop sending emails to Place Pages Help once or twice a week.
4) You’d stop scouring boards to see how others solved problems (when Help doesn’t respond)
5) You’d stop other things for Place Page…
So, maybe you only do some of these things, but the point is, your Places Page has become a driver of traffic, calls, and business. This is why we pay so much attention to it… and why we get so frustrated when things go wrong, or go slowly.
If you have ever tried to get Help from Google Places / Maps, you know the routine. “Give it a few weeks,” our “process takes 4 to 6 weeks” …or nothing. Then, after the prescribed amount of time, you inquire again and are (belatedly) informed of a “technical” issue.
The truth is, for the years that we have been working with Google, through the agency channel, local channel, or vertical channels, the message from outside Google Maps (but within Google) is that the service is deemed to be free, and therefore not staffed to effectively handle the amount of work necessary to make it run smoothly.
Google is fighting two opposing concerns that we keep pushing: 1) We want faster turn around times for processing data and 2) we want the data to be displayed accurately.
From a user perspective, however, we sometimes see neither. From listings taking months to show up, to listings being merged with other data and negating what we loaded, to map locations showing up somewhere other than the actual physical locations, to… you get the idea. In general, there is a lot of time spent and it is still (not infrequently) wrong.
Then, we hear about the issues of spam and people hijacking listings. Things are not just wrong, but there is a malicious intent behind it. This adds to the conundrum for Google; we want our listings posted quickly, but if it is wrong, we get upset with Google. By wishing that Google would just speed it up, we may be inviting this type of activity to occur unnoticed. Google is already having trouble keeping up with the workload necessary to manage well-intended requests, and now have to contend with malicious activity as well.
Despite this apparent lack of internal resources, Google continues to bolster Places. With the just announced acquisition of ZAGAT, we can see that Google is putting resources into this. Reviews, as they have said previously, are a major component. For business owners, getting the listing information right is just the first step. Then, the real work begins…getting reviews, showing promotions, keeping content fresh. These are the things that really make Places work.
Despite our frustrations, we have come to rely on the traffic, and ultimately, the business that we draw from Google Places. Persistence and patience are going to yield results. So, while we may be frustrated from time to time, we would be even more frustrated if Google were to drop Places.
Keep on pinging Places Help, post messages on the boards, and continue to enhance your listings. The fact is, Places frustrates us when it doesn’t work because we know how important it can be when it does work.