There Will Be Blood – Competitors Can Now Destroy Your Google Listing

October 14th, 2011 by Search Influence Alumni

The Villain

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.

Google was already heading down this path. Earlier this year they started allowing verified business listings to be marked as closed by anyone and everyone. With this update, someone with ill-intent can now make changes to your business listing that can have detrimental effects on local search traffic.

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.