Well, this should make many small business owners very happy. As of Tuesday, all community edits made to unclaimed local business listings will have to be approved by a Google representative before they are sent live. That means no more worrying about a competitor hijacking your listing and stealing your customers. Or, you know, closing your business for you while you’re not watching. Google says they’re taking the step as a way to ensure that any changes to Google Map listings remain high quality.
From the announcement:
We recently made a change to Google Maps to require all community edits to be reviewed before they are shown. In the past, some “pending” edits were shown immediately on Maps and only moderated (and sometimes denied) later on.
We’re taking this step to ensure that changes to Google Maps pass the high quality bar our users expect, while preventing SPAM and other problems from showing up before being reviewed first.
As Matt McGee notes in his own snarky recap of Google’s announcement (which I’d encourage you to read), the community edit feature is something that had concerned many small business owners and industry bloggers. When it was first announced, search expert Danny Sullivan jokingly edited Yahoo’s business listing to show it bought by Microsoft, causing Mike Blumenthal to label Microsoft an escort service. Clearly the two were doing it to make a point (and perhaps liven up an otherwise boring day), but the truth is, it did make unclaimed business listings vulnerable to anyone who wanted to mess with them.
After the announcement that Google was bringing in new staffers, it’s nice to see them take strong steps toward improving the quality of local business listings and, by association, local search results. It’s often felt a little like local search was the forgotten cousin of Web search, so it’s nice to see Google making some needed improvements.
Of course, the best way to never worry about what someone is writing on your business listing is to claim it so that it’s completely in your control. If you haven’t done that, let’s make today be the day.
Mike Blumental authored a very insightful post detailing his history with Google’s community edit feature that I’d encourage folks to read, as well.
Thank you for sharing that info, Lisa
Yes, my first question (To myself) was if they have the staff to handle this.
The Franchise King
@Joel They probably just have a bunch of “contractors” doing the approvals, but this is a fix to a very obvious hole in the LBC system. I can’t emphasize this enough, but every SMB should CLAIM YOUR LISTING! Do it now.
Great info, Lisa! I think we’re going to see more “locking down” of business information which I think is a move in the right direction.
Let’s hope this is the beginning of Google paying greater attention to the needs of small businesses.
Thanks for heads up Lisa. Maybe FB should follow Google’s lead in this one and take better care of their SMB customers…
I like this post, Lisa. I think for Google they are learning from Facebook’s privacy mistakes in a round about way. Both companies offer popular web services that require at least an effort of being responsible with the user data being given. Bringing in staff to prevent local search profile hijacking is a good step (Google also made a recent step to allow visitors to manage cookie information with Google Analytics, even though no personal identifiable information is parsed through GA in a cookie).
For Google these kind of announcements on how it operates is a critical branding move to appear responsible & transparent, especially in the light of Facebook’s privacy image concerns and given Google’s size. Building its own “responsible” image is a secondary concern, but I am sure the thought had to cross somebody’s mind. 🙂
Thank you for bringing this to light, as you always do!
Pierre, you nailed it and said it far more eloquently than I could have! I have no doubt that the timing and intent of this messaging rides strategically by Google on FB’s privacy wake. For sure.
Another reason Google doesn’t work for the small business looking to appeal to people in their zip code!
Check out MapWide.com for a network of industry specific search engines that give the small business assurance that their business is seen by their local consumers.
It seems like a really interesting new way of improving your online presence….