This isn’t the first time a business owner has had issues with Google Places and it probably won’t be the last, but I decided to share my recent experience with Google Places so business owners having problems with their own account can see that even an SEO firm (that does this for a living!) isn’t immune to bad customer service.
Here’s the scenario:
My company recently moved to a new office (you can read about the SEO lesson I learned from that move) so I needed to update our Google Places listing to reflect the new address. Any business owner who has tried to update their address of phone number knows it’s not a simple task. First off, in order to update an address they need to send a verification pin to that address (to make sure it’s not someone trying to mess with the listing) but it takes 2-3 weeks for that postcard to arrive! So I patiently waited my 2-3 weeks and nothing came from Google. I had to resubmit the changes for a new verification pin, which would take ANOTHER 2-3 weeks to arrive.
Here’s where it got really frustrating. I didn’t realize this until about a week into the process, but while my new address was “pending” in Google Places, Google had pulled the listing entirely! For some business owners, this is deadly! If your customers can’t find you in search engines, most won’t know you exist. Even though my SEO firm doesn’t rely on foot traffic for survival, that listing probably drove 15 unique visitors through to my site every month. I’ve even gotten a client from my Google Places listing, so to have it just disappear was very frustrating.
What was even more frustrating is that a few days after that, Brick Marketing was showing up in Google Places but it looked like this (right click to view full image):
No address, no local phone number, no website, no nothing! What’s worse is that even though the address shows “United States” as the address, the actual dot is where our old office used to be! Needless to say I was more than a little frustrated with the whole situation.
The second verification pin arrived (finally!) and said the changes would take effect in 24 hours. 24 hours went by, then 48, then 72….nothing! My Google Places account said everything had been updated and was good to go but clearly it isn’t. I still have none of the new information in my listing and all the old information has pretty much been pulled out.
Here’s the kicker, and a problem that many business owners have run into before, Google Places offers ZERO customer service. There is no phone number, e-mail or contact us form for business owners to reach out for help. Yes, there are crowd-sourced help forums, but many of the comments are business owners all dealing with the same issue and no one can come up with a solution.
I can appreciate that Google has millions of customers and running an actual customer service department for Google Places would be impossible, but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating. I KNOW that Google Places is important for local SEO and I manage the listings for my clients all the time. To not be able to control my own is a little embarrassing.
What problems, if any, have you encountered with Google Places?
***Update! After several months and hours of research and tweaking our Google Places account it finally is online and accurate, although I am happy it should not be this hard!