ATTENTION Google Places Marketers - Google Slap Might Be Coming February 1st !!!

41 replies
Hey,

Google Places is like the Wild West currently, it's incredible how much Google is changing currently, hard to keep up with.

I just logged into one of my client's accounts and saw an alarm message that I've never seen before - I think it's important that you guys know about it in order to react, so consider this a heads up.

Here goes the exact message:


Alerts (1)
Information about this listing may be incorrect. Please review by 1/30/11. Review and correct


(Then, when I click on review and correct, I get the following message):

To help people searching for businesses like yours, Google is always working to improve the accuracy of local business listings. While reviewing your Places listing, we found a problem:

Edit Categories
You provided:
(my categories go here)

Suggested change:(Google's suggestions go here)

(Now here is the important part):

Please choose an option below. If we don't hear from you before January 30, 2011 we'll leave your listing up, but we'll override some parts of the listing that you provided with data from other sources until you address this issue.

Options: Accept Suggested Change - Make Different Change - Leave Listing Unchanged

So as you can see, Google is cracking down for real, so make sure that you check your client's listings!

Looks to me like there could be some major changes end of January and some people might lose rankings if they don't make the suggested changes, who knows.

I try to stay on top of things and let you know what happened after doing the suggested changes. (haven't done them yet)

Cheers,
Mario Brown
#1st #attention #coming #february #google #marketers #places #slap
  • Profile picture of the author LiquidSeo
    Originally Posted by Mario Brown View Post

    Hey,

    Google Places is like the Wild West currently, it's incredible how much Google is changing currently, hard to keep up with.

    I just logged into one of my client's accounts and saw an alarm message that I've never seen before - I think it's important that you guys know about it in order to react, so consider this a heads up.

    Here goes the exact message:


    Alerts (1)
    Information about this listing may be incorrect. Please review by 1/30/11. Review and correct


    (Then, when I click on review and correct, I get the following message):

    To help people searching for businesses like yours, Google is always working to improve the accuracy of local business listings. While reviewing your Places listing, we found a problem:

    Edit Categories
    You provided:
    (my categories go here)

    Suggested change:(Google's suggestions go here)

    (Now here is the important part):

    Please choose an option below. If we don't hear from you before January 30, 2011 we'll leave your listing up, but we'll override some parts of the listing that you provided with data from other sources until you address this issue.

    Options: Accept Suggested Change - Make Different Change - Leave Listing Unchanged

    So as you can see, Google is cracking down for real, so make sure that you check your client's listings!

    Looks to me like there could be some major changes end of January and some people might lose rankings if they don't make the suggested changes, who knows.

    I try to stay on top of things and let you know what happened after doing the suggested changes. (haven't done them yet)

    Cheers,
    Mario Brown
    Thanks Mario - good to know. I haven't seen this yet in Atlanta, but instead have been a victim of random "Account Warning" in the past. No supporting data on what they didn't like, just the red text at the top of the page indicating Account Warning advising to fix immediately or that the account will be suspended.

    As scary as your message is, at least there was some insight on what to change!

    I'll keep my eyes out for this.

    Brian
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    • Profile picture of the author eshera
      Thanks for the info, Mario...I was just checking my listings, all okay, but a newer one that I just started this week (I took it over, not a brand new listing, but new to me) and see this warning this morning. Not even sure yet what action to take. Please update if you notice anything else.
      Thanks!
      eshera
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      • Profile picture of the author jr1228
        So this can only be seen if one logs into Google Places?

        Makes me wonder how many businesses don't even bother logging into their Places account regularly. It will be interesting to see what comes February 1!
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  • Profile picture of the author vndnbrgj
    If that's part of the change... I will gladly embrace it.
    I have no problem with Google making sure people use only Whitehat methods when setting up their listings. All this will do is force people to change and adapt.
    It's only a big deal, if you make it a big deal.
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    • Profile picture of the author eshera
      Originally Posted by vndnbrgj View Post

      If that's part of the change... I will gladly embrace it.
      I have no problem with Google making sure people use only Whitehat methods when setting up their listings. All this will do is force people to change and adapt.
      It's only a big deal, if you make it a big deal.

      For myself, I agree, I only do WhiteHat for my clients, have dabbled a bit in GreyHat for my own stuff, will no real results, testing only.

      So far, this listing that I just adopted does "walk the fence" in my opinion, so I am not going to actually make any changes, yet, but just take notes and make the suggestions to the client.
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    • Profile picture of the author Mario Brown
      Originally Posted by vndnbrgj View Post

      If that's part of the change... I will gladly embrace it.
      I have no problem with Google making sure people use only Whitehat methods when setting up their listings. All this will do is force people to change and adapt.
      It's only a big deal, if you make it a big deal.
      Well said, I couldn't agree more and I also like most of the changes that Google is making. Most of them will make it harder to rank, but they also help us to make more money offering our services .

      Nobody said that it's a big deal, but if people don't know about it (if they don't log into their client's accounts), then it might very well be a big deal if they lose their rankings I think.

      Nobody knows how the changes will effect listings but it's going to be interesting to see what happens

      Cheers,
      Mario
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      • Profile picture of the author eshera
        Originally Posted by Mario Brown View Post

        Well said, I couldn't agree more and I also like most of the changes that Google is making. Most of them will make it harder to rank, but they also help us to make more money offering our services .

        Nobody said that it's a big deal, but if people don't know about it (if they don't log into their client's accounts), then it might very well be a big deal if they lose their rankings I think.

        Nobody knows how the changes will effect listings but it's going to be interesting to see what happens

        Cheers,
        Mario
        Too true! WF is (and probably will always be) the next best thing to "being a fly on the wall" keeping up with changes, thanks to folks like Mario!
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      • Profile picture of the author Sean Gipson
        Hey Mario,

        I'm assuming that you went ahead and made the change, but did you change the category to the one that Google suggested or did you make a different change? Also was there a big difference in the category that Google suggested than the one that you originally started off with?

        Thanks
        Sean
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        • Profile picture of the author Mario Brown
          Originally Posted by Sean Gipson View Post

          Hey Mario,

          I'm assuming that you went ahead and made the change, but did you change the category to the one that Google suggested or did you make a different change? Also was there a big difference in the category that Google suggested than the one that you originally started off with?

          Thanks
          Sean
          Hi Sean,

          No I haven't made the change yet and to answer your question, the suggested change was actually small - and that's kinda weird.

          Here is why, that particular listing was still set up in the old way, using the city name in the categories, and each keyword separated by a comma in addition to the categories that Google suggests.

          I'm aware that this is against the quality guidelines but I postponed the change because the client is ranking on the first position for some extremely competitive keywords (personal injury).

          Anyway, Google's suggestion was basically to only take out one single keyword and to replace it with another one.

          So it looks to me that their automatic program that checks the categories for keyword stuffing and things like that, isn't working perfectly yes - I'm sure they are testing the heck out of it currently, like always and then they might fully implement it end of January - who knows.

          I hope I could answer your question.

          Cheers,
          Mario
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          ‎"Success is waking up in the morning, whoever you are, however old or young, and bounding out of bed because there's something out there that you love to do, that you believe in, that you're good at -- something that's bigger than you are, and you can't hardly wait to get at it again today." Whit Hobbs

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          • Profile picture of the author AndrewCavanagh
            Yes google has always considered categories important.

            You could also assume that they want all the details in google places filled out correctly.

            One other area where we've seen problems is where a consultant has multiple different businesses listed in one account.

            It seems they like those listings to be in separate google accounts.


            If you're sticking to basics you never really need to worry about a "google slap."

            I'd consider the basics:

            # A business website that has high quality, highly targeted content optimized for local search terms related to the business.

            # Backlinks from sites with good google page ranks to the website.

            # Claim the listing on google maps, fill out all the details (especially carefully choosing categories) and put high quality content on that google places listing (photos, descriptions etc).

            # Get the name and physical address of the business listed on as many local and related sites as you can...especially sites with some kind of google page rank.

            # Get happy customers to give you reviews on google places.


            These are all pretty obvious and white hat.

            Trying to fool the search engines or doing things in a shoddy, half hearted way is what will get you into trouble.

            Kindest regards,
            Andrew Cavanagh
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  • Profile picture of the author dubhlinn
    Yes they have implemented quite a few changes and the categories area seems to be the main one now. Big G are getting rid of spammy keyword stuffed listings.

    Tip- They want more generalized information now. So instead of saying "Tampa Hair Salon" + "Tampa unisex salon" etc. you should only go with Hair Salon your address already tells them where you are.

    Use the suggested category offered from G even if it seems off. Play by Gs rules and you will be rewarded

    There are some other changes though G has mentioned that they are still playing around with layouts and that we should just get used to the variety for now. It looks like SEO is being giving the green light regarding listing now.

    Tell your clients that you have no control over what Google does if their listing is slipping. As it seems to be changing every few days.
    Good news is some well established organic listed sites are slipping from local searches results as far as page 2.
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    • Profile picture of the author TE2
      Hey Mario,

      IMHO - Google slap for Place Pages is a good thing.

      I have not seen this yet, but I suspect that it has to do with "relevance". I believe google is trying to weed out the junk and the think your selected category does not meet Big G's quality criteria.

      i.e. They think it is mis-categorized for some reason be it legitimate or not.

      At least they gave a warning which means they realize that many business owners are not that sophisticated in the way of the Internet and may have simply made an error in their page categorization. Their suggested changes may actually help since they do have all the data to base their suggestion upon.

      Regards,

      John
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  • Profile picture of the author ebizerati
    Mario,

    Do you think it is possible that Google gave you a deadline, simple because they are giving businesses a certain amount of days to correct any problems, instead of some change coming on February 1.

    It will be interesting to see if anybody else gets a warning with a different deadline than 1/31/2011.

    If anyone does get a warning with a different date, please post and let us know.

    Dale
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  • Profile picture of the author localdominator
    Thanks for the heads up. This doesn't sound like it will be a problem at all, just make sure your clients are all in the green.
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    • Profile picture of the author fritzseo
      I wonder if having the listing title the same as a category will be banned. This is how I get my clients #1 ;one way anyway;
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  • Profile picture of the author Tony Wagner
    The only thing for certain for business are things are going to change!
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  • Profile picture of the author srtyker
    Hhhmmm!!! Thanks for the up. Thankfully havent seen this for any of my clients yet, but certainly something to watch out for.

    http://www.warriorforum.com/warriors...arch-work.html
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    • Profile picture of the author Mario Brown
      Originally Posted by srtyker View Post

      Hhhmmm!!! Thanks for the up. Thankfully havent seen this for any of my clients yet, but certainly something to watch out for.

      http://www.warriorforum.com/warriors...arch-work.html
      Just a quick heads up, promoting your WSO outside of the WSO board will get you banned, you might want to take that link out.

      Cheers,
      Mario
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  • Profile picture of the author Bronwyn and Keith
    Hey Mario

    Haven't seen this on any of our GP listings that we have done for clients here yet.

    Thanks for the heads up though.

    all the best

    Bronwyn and Keith
    Originally Posted by Mario Brown View Post

    Hey,

    Google Places is like the Wild West currently, it's incredible how much Google is changing currently, hard to keep up with.

    I just logged into one of my client's accounts and saw an alarm message that I've never seen before - I think it's important that you guys know about it in order to react, so consider this a heads up.

    Here goes the exact message:


    Alerts (1)
    Information about this listing may be incorrect. Please review by 1/30/11. Review and correct

    (Then, when I click on review and correct, I get the following message):

    To help people searching for businesses like yours, Google is always working to improve the accuracy of local business listings. While reviewing your Places listing, we found a problem:

    Edit Categories
    You provided: (my categories go here)

    Suggested change:(Google's suggestions go here)

    (Now here is the important part):

    Please choose an option below. If we don't hear from you before January 30, 2011 we'll leave your listing up, but we'll override some parts of the listing that you provided with data from other sources until you address this issue.

    Options: Accept Suggested Change - Make Different Change - Leave Listing Unchanged

    So as you can see, Google is cracking down for real, so make sure that you check your client's listings!

    Looks to me like there could be some major changes end of January and some people might lose rankings if they don't make the suggested changes, who knows.

    I try to stay on top of things and let you know what happened after doing the suggested changes. (haven't done them yet)

    Cheers,
    Mario Brown
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  • Profile picture of the author jacquic
    Thanks, Mario, interesting.

    Usually changes happen on this side of the Pond after they've happened in the US, but we will keep a close lookout.

    We're running a workshop on Places next month for local business owners - we're hoping by them the new regime may have settled down a bit - so pointers like the one you have made in this thread are helpful.
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    • Profile picture of the author MichelleH
      Hi Mario,

      Thanks for the heads up on this!

      My own view is this is the fall out from the Google Guideline updates published by Google in November 2010. And as anticipated Google has given us some time to get our house in order.

      Obviously those listings that have been updated since the new guidelines were published have already been subjected to the new algorithm.

      However Google will, over the coming months, be applying the new algorithm to those listing that have not been updated. When this happens to each individual listing only time will tell, but I do feel sure it is on it's way!

      Michelle
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      • Profile picture of the author Arizona
        Hi Mario,

        Hey, thank you for the information regarding Google. Much appreciated more than you know! I am sure many more people would love to know about this, too. Thanks again!

        http://JoinJosephineMonty.com
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  • Thanks for the heads up. That's why I love this board. You can get fast updates from the trenches.
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    • Profile picture of the author BradleyC
      That's interesting. Thanks for sharing your experience.
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      • Profile picture of the author sabrinatoss
        Wow, this is a great news! Thanks for sharing this information. I'm really looking forward unto it.
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        • Profile picture of the author WikiWarrior
          Thanks for the heads-up on this Mario. I manage quite a few clients Places listings now so this is really good to know in advance.
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          • Sorry have been on vacation but wanted to post my thoughts on this.

            I had one client get the same message with the same date.

            Based on the content in my client's and Mario's warning, it seems to me what they are trying to do is enforce the new "what your business IS, not what your business DOES rule" regarding categories.

            I've blogged a lot and posted here about this part of the guidelines change, but in case you were unaware, here it is.

            "Categories should say what your business is (e.g. Hospital), not on what it does (e.g. Vaccinations) or things it sells (e.g. Sony products or printer paper). This information can be added in your description or as custom attributes."

            So as an example (based on how I read this) cosmetic Dentistry would no longer be allowed, but cosmetic Dentist would be. snow removal NO, snow removal service YES.

            @Mario - I'm curious, does the change they suggested line up with the above guideline change?

            With my client the changes they recommended weren't really right. They recommended one change and then totally skipped over another cat that was similar ("is" not "does" problem). Plus one change they recommended didn't even really make sense, so def seemed to me to be an automated algo scan and not a human review.

            My 2 cents...
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            • Profile picture of the author Mario Brown
              Originally Posted by 5starAffiliatePrograms View Post

              Sorry have been on vacation but wanted to post my thoughts on this.

              I had one client get the same message with the same date.

              Based on the content in my client's and Mario's warning, it seems to me what they are trying to do is enforce the new "what your business IS, not what your business DOES rule" regarding categories.

              I've blogged a lot and posted here about this part of the guidelines change, but in case you were unaware, here it is.

              "Categories should say what your business is (e.g. Hospital), not on what it does (e.g. Vaccinations) or things it sells (e.g. Sony products or printer paper). This information can be added in your description or as custom attributes."

              So as an example (based on how I read this) cosmetic Dentistry would no longer be allowed, but cosmetic Dentist would be. snow removal NO, snow removal service YES.

              @Mario - I'm curious, does the change they suggested line up with the above guideline change?

              With my client the changes they recommended weren't really right. They recommended one change and then totally skipped over another cat that was similar ("is" not "does" problem). Plus one change they recommended didn't even really make sense, so def seemed to me to be an automated algo scan and not a human review.

              My 2 cents...
              Great question. The change they suggested actually didn't make a lot of sense at all - they asked me to change one single keyword even though there were several that should have been changed.

              I have no idea, as always, what they're up to - let's see if there's an update coming February 1st

              Cheers,
              Mario
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              ‎"Success is waking up in the morning, whoever you are, however old or young, and bounding out of bed because there's something out there that you love to do, that you believe in, that you're good at -- something that's bigger than you are, and you can't hardly wait to get at it again today." Whit Hobbs

              Visit My Website: http://www.mariobrown.net/

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              • Profile picture of the author GaryEarle
                Hi Mario

                Just a quick question...doe syour product..the Google places one...address all these changes?

                Here is my point...is the product updated to reflect what is happening NOW...versus doing something that was working 6 months ago....

                and the only reason I ask...Is that I'm sitting on the fence ...it's not that inexpensive....

                Ok..I hope that all made sense

                Gary
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  • Profile picture of the author Quentin
    So its not the google slap but getting rid of the crap.

    Quentin
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  • Profile picture of the author vinnieg
    Mario,

    Thanks for the information this will be helpful when presenting my clients with a monthly monitoring agreement.

    Vinnie
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  • Profile picture of the author jr1228
    Anyone notice any differences with their listings since yesterday?
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  • Profile picture of the author Dexx
    All these constant changes just reminds me why I prefer to focus on the offline areas of improving a business rather than trying to "keep up with Google."

    Never been a fan of placing my income potential in the hands of a 3rd party's decisions.
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  • Profile picture of the author Rus Sells
    Guess what,

    Abide by the Google Places Terms, practice sound and basic SEO practices and you can weather any Google change, its really THAT simple folks.
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  • Profile picture of the author k60mall
    There is one thing that never seems to change and that is videos. I still do places listing with very little effort but videos rock when it comes to ranking.

    Keith
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  • Profile picture of the author webmustang
    Simple observation with Google.. if you play fancy SEO... You look like a fancy Search Engine Optimization "expert" which makes you stick out like a sore thumb comparing to the local plumber Schmo... Next update... you're gone
    Play simple, basic, dont over do it and you'll rank and stay.
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  • Profile picture of the author Tim Hoogasian
    Thanks for the heads-up Mario.
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    • Profile picture of the author robs132
      Thanks Mario. I think the Google WebSpam team are starting to crack down again. Especially after the JC Penny article in NY Times made them look a little foolish:

      http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/13/bu.../13search.html


      Spam is alive and well...
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      • Profile picture of the author eznetbiz
        Not sure about Google Slap, but , they are certainly cleaning up the craps from Google Place.
        I changed the business address in GP two months ago and received a call from Google to confirm the change of address.
        Also tried to register a new business in GP last week and the option for SMS account verification is now gone. The only way to verify the account is postcard method and, they said it will take 1 to 2 weeks to receive the postcard.
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  • Profile picture of the author redcell1
    I just had a client of mine refer me a new client in Orange County. I created the listing and it only had a postcard

    I edited another client's listing in OC and the same thing it wanted a postcard for verification.
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    Just here to see the shenanigans.

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