There Will Be Blood – Competitors Can Now Destroy Your Google Listing
October 14th, 2011 by
Google is feeding local business owners to the wolves with their latest Places update. Lior Ron, Google Places Product Manger, announced yesterday evening that Google will be “helping” business owners keep their business listings updated by now allowing anyone, mischievous competitors included, to edit your entire Places listing for you. Yes, even if it is verified.
How… thoughtful of Google.
Yes, Google will be sending an email updating you about the recent changes to your Places listing. But, here’s the catch. Instead of giving the person that manages the listing the option to decline the edits, Google is “streamlining” the process by automatically updating the listing and basically saying, “well, if you don’t like it, go change it back and, after an unreasonable amount of time in which there is real potential for losing customers, we’’ll update it only for it to possibly happen again.”
The most laughable part of this update announcement is Mr. Ron trying to spin these new features as something that Google hopes will “make it even easier for business owners to manage their online presence.” Yeah, maybe if we lived in a world where all of your competitors have scruples, and enough money to go around, but we don’t. The competition can be cut-throat in some industries and Google just gave them a knife.
This is ridiculous. As slightly comical as it sounds, in the computer repair industry in New Orleans there is a competitor who is notorious for posting personal attacks in the reviews section of ratings sites. Before the problem was brought to Google’s attention, one reviewer had managed to review 20 repair businesses in the area, giving every one of them 1 star and occasionally referencing another business as a better alternative. Google’s alg obviously did nothing to prevent this from happening, and the customer service is nearly nonexistent. If I hadn’t thought to tweet the problem to Matt Cutts and the place pages twitter account, who knows how long it would have taken to get fixed, and no one was listening for the weeks before that. My business is a side-business and I don’t get many leads, but having spam reviews on yahoo and Google put me through a period of 0 leads for over a month, rather than the usual 2 leads per week.
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