As Promised, Google Unmerged and Re-Merged My Wife’s Google Places Listing

Filed in Google, Local Search by Matt McGee on January 30, 2012 10 Comments

The fun continues with my wife’s business listing in Google Places! As expected, Google has unmerged her listing with the Windermere Real Estate office in Richland. But it’s since re-merged the listing and created an even bigger mess. Ready to follow along?

Google emailed to let me know the merged-with-Richland issue was being fixed. Sure enough, the Richland office now has its own listing, no sign at all of anything related to Cari’s account. Good for them.

In the meantime, I updated Cari’s business name while all this was going on. I removed “Windermere Real Estate” and replaced it with “Real Estate Agent,” which seems to have helped disassociate the listing with the Windermere office listings.

But her listing has been merged again … only not with the main Windermere office in Kennewick, and not with one of her fellow agents, but it’s been merged with two other agents in her same office. Here’s the link for the live version, and here’s a screenshot showing everything that’s screwed up with this listing. (click for larger version)

cari-google-places

Google has Cari’s business name, street address, office phone and fax number correct. And the middle three images in the “Photos & Videos” section are hers. Yay! But the rest of the listing is a strange conglomeration of her listing with the listings that belong to two other agents in the same building: Dallas Green and Chris Powell.

It has Dallas as the main photo, and then Chris’ photo shows down below in the “Photos & Videos” section. The worst thing is that it has Chris’ mobile number, not Cari’s … ergo, no calls for her from Google Places.

There are several pieces of content not from Cari’s account, but I don’t know where they’re from: the business hours, the “Real Estate Agency” category, the description and the video down in the lower right.

As I said in the post a couple weeks ago … SIGH.

We still have some data cleanup to do on her non-Google listings, which probably still reflect the old Richland address. But, as best I can tell, that has nothing to do with this merging problem. She’s not being merged with anyone in Richland — this is a purely Kennewick address issue, and the problem is that Google still sucks at dealing with multiple business owners at the same address.

Stay tuned for the further adventures of a Google Places listing gone haywire….I’m going to go use the “Report a Problem” and troubleshooter form right now and will include a link to this post for Google’s enjoyment.

Comments (10)

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  1. Nick Rink says:

    Matt,
    Have been following your Google Places travails with interest as I’m going through the same thing with a client at the moment. Perseverance seems to be the only way to crack it! Good luck and hope you eventually get it all sorted.

  2. Michael says:

    Yep, like you, I wrestle with Google Places. Going on a few years now–surprisingly, I think the merging problems are actually getting worse, not better.

  3. Jason says:

    Sometimes I wonder how a massive company like Google can create hilarious minor screw-ups such as this one.
    I hope you get everything sorted out!

  4. Ted Ives says:

    Matt – looks like they deployed a sophisticated *ambiguation* algorithm.

    Reminds me of the old Steve Martin joke

    “I’ll never forget what the swami told me….

    He said ‘always’….

    no, wait, it was ‘never’…”

    😉

  5. Nigel says:

    I’ve had some experience with this problem as well and it is very frustrating. Eventually, I just moved the client to a separate address using PO box from UPS for under $200/yr. Might not be playing by G’s rules but at least it gets the clients phone back to ringing off the hook…

  6. Robert Ennis says:

    Hello Matt,
    I may be working the other side. I’m currently assisting a traditional Real Estate agency with their Social media efforts along with improving their online visibility. They have ~90 agents, the majority working out of a single office. While working out a game plan, I came to the realization that from both a technical and practical standpoint, a Google Places listing for individual agents, is at the very least, problematic. Given Google’s stated goal of maximizing the utility of their search results, can you imagine the negative utility of having hundreds, if not thousands of agents in a geographic area with individual Places pages, with most looking very much the same from a search perspective?
    I have come across many examples of sales agents, claiming the main office address & phone number of the Broker (Company) that holds their licences. I have also come across a lot of bad advise to agents about how to claim & maximise their Places listing that will, if followed, cause major problems for their company and their fellow agents.
    Agents with individual Places pages can be a major revenue source for Google from an Adwords perspective, so my guess is that they are working on a solution before having to suspend these Places pages. Maybe Sub-Places?
    I would very much like to know you thoughts on the future of Places listings for Individual Agents, both from the husband of an agent and as an expert in the local search field.

  7. Cliff says:

    Yup! I can relate to this. Very tough with multiple business owners in one office. Took me forever to get out from underneath a competitor’s Google Places marker piece. We’re in the same office, and they moved their marker over mine. Needed to beef up the citations in order to overcome the issue.

  8. It seems like they screw the listings up on purpose to get you to buy adwords. Bing and Yahoo! Local don’t have this problem. Adwords was a complete waste of money for us. zero ROI and a lot of competitor IP addresses showed as clicks on my IP tracker. Policing bad clicks on adwords is just as bad as cleaning up Maps. As soon as you get in the 10 pack, you start having trouble.

  9. D. Carr says:

    We have experienced the same merging problem with agent listings and I know how frustrating it can be, especially since they have merged business listings with our Google Plus page. I mean you put months of time and effort into building a great Google Plus page and wake up one day and it has an agents name, photo and website link on it! Nice 🙁

    I have asked the Google Team for instructions on how to keep this from happening, but so far have not received anything back. I doubt Google will change anything, so I’m working toward getting Google business listing rules established in our offices that will prohibit an agent from:
    1. Using the company address.
    2. Using the company phone numbers (any of them, including the 800 number and the fax)
    3. Using the company name as the business name.

    We will allow the agent to use the company name in the description.

    Currently, I think this is the only way to fix the issue. If anyone else has other suggestions please post them!

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