Google Emails To Let Me Know My Wife’s Merged Listing Will Be Merged Again

Filed in Google, Local Search by Matt McGee on January 16, 2012 14 Comments

I think it’s great that Google is trying to improve customer service. In trying to fix my wife’s current merged listing cluster****, they’ve sent me more emails than I could’ve ever imagined. Yay Google! Except the last email they sent wasn’t so good.

Yesterday, Google emailed me to let me know that they’re going to unmerge my wife’s listing, and then re-merge it with another listing. Here’s the email, and then I’ll explain after you see it.

google-places-email

Isn’t that the nicest email? I’m serious – that’s exactly the kind of informative, helpful thing Google Places should be doing in its communication with small business owners.

Except that, in this case, they’re not solving anything with the listing at all. Here’s the story….

First, The Background

For those who are new to this site, my wife is a local real estate agent with Windermere Real Estate.

There are two Windermere Real Estate offices in our area. They used to be partners (same brokerage) but are now, technically, separate/competing brokerages under the Windermere name. Here are their addresses:

Windermere Real Estate Tri-Cities
329 North Kellogg Street
Kennewick, WA 99336

Windermere Group One
490 Bradley Blvd.
Richland, WA 99352

Making matters worse? Cari used to work at the Richland office, but now works in the Kennewick office.

She switched offices more than a year ago, but knowing the inherent risk in updating a Google Places listing, I refused to change the address. Too dangerous. Too many stories of disaster from a simple address change. No thanks.

Everything was fine. She was listed with the Richland address, but it used her cellphone number so any calls would still come straight to her, not to the old office.

Then, Disaster Struck

In early December, the folks at her old office in Richland finally decided to create their own Google Places listing for the brokerage. It immediately consumed my wife’s listing. They used a different business name and a different phone number than what’s in Cari’s listing; only the address was the same. But the new listing immediately took over and Cari was nowhere to be found in Google Places.

None of my attempts to unmerge the two listings were successful. I used the “Report a Problem” tool on the listing, with no luck.

Mike Blumenthal suggested I use the recently added troubleshooter tool in the Google Places Help Center. On December 27th, I went through that process, indicating that I’d already used the “Report a Problem” button. I filled-in the parts asking for her business name and address. At the bottom of the form, I explained this:

My wife’s listing has been merged with Windermere Group One at 490 Bradley Blvd., Richland, WA, 99352 — my wife used to be at that address, but is now at the Kennewick address. Her photos are showing up on the Windermere Group One Place Page, while her own Place Page no longer appears anywhere.

Google’s autoresponder contacted me almost immediately, and then about 48 hours later — during the week between Christmas and New Year’s, which is quite impressive — I got another email from Google with this message:

We have taken the necessary steps to make sure that your business information will appear correctly in 4-6 weeks.

Oh, No You Haven’t!

That was the last email I received from Google until the one that came in yesterday. In reading the latest email, you can see that Google hasn’t done anything to fix the problem. Here’s what they say the listing will look like when it’s fixed … err, “updated.”

google-places-email-2

But that’s not Cari’s listing. That’s the primary listing for the brokerage where she’s at now. It’s the same address, but the business name and phone number are the brokerage, not her. This is what Cari’s listing looks like in the Places dashboard — the basic Name, Address, Phone (NAP) data hasn’t changed in years. Notice that the business name and phone number are different.

So, Google is basically going to unmerge her listing from the Richland office, then re-merge it with the Kennewick office. She won’t have her name nor her phone number showing up; it’ll be the brokerage’s listing, not hers.

SIGH.

This is 2012. Real estate agents, doctors, dentists, lawyers, hair stylists and numerous other local businesses work in situations where multiple independent business owners share the same building and physical address.

How long do we have to wait before Google Places figures that out and stops merging these kinds of listings?

Comments (14)

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  1. Nyagoslav says:

    Matt,

    Here is what I believe happened (note: personal opinion, inconclusive):

    1) You reported the problem via the troubleshooter
    2) A Googler manually fixed the merger. Such types of changes take, as stated in the answer you received, 4-6 (or even more) weeks to appear on the front end a.k.a. Maps.
    3) However, Google still determines, algorithmically (based on third-party information it collected), that the correct information for the listing is the one it sent via email.

    Now, the email notifying you about the changes that are going to happen is not a result of the manual fixation done by the Google rep. It’s based on an entirely separate (automated) system.

    I don’t want to give any specific suggestions, but should “Windermere Real Estate” really be a part of your wife’s listing’s business name? Same address, same industry, partly same business name is a bit too much for the algo imho.

  2. Hi Matt,

    Google do not sort out your web data and this will be your problem.

    Nagloslav is quiet right about the common root of the business names triggering merge issues. My advice is to use a new business name with a root unique for your category in your metropolitan area.

    Trying to get away without tidying up all your web data after the move is a big issue.

    I would start again with a new business and Places entry for your wife’s new location.

    You need to log in and make new entries in Acxiom, InfoUSA and Localeze or ensure their feeds are correct. Also delete/update existing relevant entries.

    You have to go out and update all the web content your wife has with her name, old address and old phone no(s). And have content for any web directory the other office has.

    Ideally this needs to be done before making a new Places entry.

    Good luck. Andrew.

  3. Linda Buquet says:

    Hey Matt when I read this I was going to comment the same thing NY did.

    The listing is about to change email is auto-generated, just because the algo sees enough evidence of that NAP that it thinks it’s correct.

    All you have to do to prevent those changes is to do a null edit. Hit edit, then submit and that tells Google not to make the changes.

    Linda

    • Matt McGee says:

      Thx for the comments, folks.

      The problem with doing a null edit and just hitting “submit” on what’s currently listed in the Places dashboard is that I’m basically saying to Google, “Don’t make this change, I want to keep things how they are” — which is to say, keep them merged with the Richland address.

      Am I right?

      Maybe I didn’t explain this well enough: I want Google to change things. The listing is currently merged. But I don’t want them to change it so it’s merged with the Kennewick listing. I want them to make the RIGHT change, which is to separate my wife’s listing from BOTH of the brokerage addresses.

      And yes, Nyagoslav, I’ve thought that maybe having “Windermere” in her business name is contributing to the problem. I wonder if leaving it just as “Real Estate” or “Real Estate Agent” might help.

  4. Nyagoslav says:

    Matt,

    Although I’m sure others would say the same thing, I’d take the liberty and reply first again.

    As I said in my initial comment, the changes you were notified for and the manual separation done by a Google rep are two things that practically have nothing do with each other. This means that if you do the “null edit” it will simply tell Google: “Don’t make this change, because it is incorrect. My business information is currently completely up-to-date as it is on my DASHBOARD.” Such an edit should not affect what the Google rep had done (hopefully).

    However, as I mentioned in my previous comment this is all inconclusive and things might vary depending on many factors. I’m simply “describing” the theoretical background of the problem here.

    I would also not want to give any specific suggestions regarding the business name.

    • Matt McGee says:

      Nyagoslav, what evidence is there that the email I got (and show at the start of this blog post) has nothing to do with the merging problem that I’ve reported via the “Report a Problem” link and also via the troubleshooter tool on Google’s Help site?

  5. Hi Matt,

    This is the only Places search result I see
    http://maps.google.co.uk/maps/place?hl=en&rlz=&um=1&ie=UTF-8&q=windermere+real+estate+tri-cities&fb=1&gl=uk&hq=windermere+real+estate+tri-cities&cid=4006952703740322221&ei=LfwVT_egNobp8QPu3In6Aw&sa=X&oi=local_result&ct=placepage-link&resnum=4&ved=0CGIQ4gkwAw

    This one only shows up in google maps
    http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?hl=en&q=windermere+group+one&rlz=&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wl

    Neither of these shows the high lighted details you posted above in your wife’s Places entry. What shows for the option to see your Places entry in maps?

    If you search in Mapmaker for the first Places result your wife’s highlighted name appears fourth in a list of names with the high lighted phone no fourth in a list. The name and phone no google want to update are first in those lists.

    At the top of the search results for the Places page showing is this:
    Windermere Tri Cities
    http://www.windermeretricities.com/
    Find Kennewick homes for sale,
    Whos website is this?

    Under the Places link
    Windermere Tri-Cities Kennewick
    http://www.windermere.com/index.cfm?fuseaction…118 – United States
    Windermere Real Estate/Tri-Cities 329 North Kellogg Street Kennewick, WA 99336, Phone: 509-783-8811. Fax: 509-783-4924. Email: tricity@windermere.com
    Whos is this?

    And on and on?

    A name change looks like a better option.

    So:

    The data is not clear to me.

    Your wifes Places entry looks like a 1st or 4th input to the Mapmaker entry.

    And it seems google is picking the first entries out of the Mapmaker lists.

    What do we need to see?

    Your wifes Places entry when searched on by phone no or (business name and location) appears in a google maps search as that is the source of Owner Verified data input to a Places search result, but as we know it can be over written at search time, or in ‘batch’ by an email from google.

    Searching on your wifes phone no shows 2 entries in Maps:
    Windermere Real Estate Tri-Cities

    329 North Kellogg Street, Kennewick, WA
    (509) 542-7888 ‎ · chrispowellhomes.com
    2 offers »
    sell a home · see remarks · regarding mls · foreclosures
    “Windermere is good well know business. Although, I posted on this due to …” – insiderpages.com

    Chris Powell / Windermere Real Estate Tri-Cities

    329 North Kellogg, Kennewick, WA
    (509) 542-7888 ‎ · chrispowellhomes.com
    1 review
    “Thanks for the quick, professional response!” -

    For googles email phone no

    Chris Powell / Windermere Real Estate Tri-Cities

    329 North Kellogg, Kennewick, WA
    (509) 542-7888 ‎ · chrispowellhomes.com
    1 review
    “Thanks for the quick, professional response!” -

    So we seem to have a duplicate issue for the address.

    And for your wifes Places entry name:
    Windermere Real Estate Tri-Cities

    329 North Kellogg Street, Kennewick, WA
    (509) 542-7888 ‎ · chrispowellhomes.com
    2 offers »
    sell a home · see remarks · regarding mls · foreclosures
    “Windermere is good well know business. Although, I posted on this due to …” – insiderpages.com

    Windermere Group One/Tri-Cities

    490 Bradley Boulevard, Richland, WA
    (509) 946-1188 ‎ · windermeregroupone.com
    1 offer »
    trinidad and tobago · proudly powered · time home buyer · sell a home · foreclosures
    “I’m Cari McGee. Real estate is my profession; it’s not a hobby. I’m a licensed REALTOR® working with Windermere Real Estate, the number one real estate …” – carimcgee.com

    Another two results.

    Google say only one entry per phone no, I have suffered from being reduced to one and having no Additional Details showing for a multiple strand business so I know the pain. Of course its not programmed into the indexes as there are lots of old violations and its a matter of chance if your violation is picked up.

    Google do not know about Data Normalisation it appears to me.

    Some work to do. My rates are very reasonable and its something you have to sort out yourself.

    Since google scraped duplicates straight into peoples Places accounts, and especially for slightly differing map pin positions, it was clear to me google are going to force us to sort our myriad data issues out on the web, even ones created by other greedy scrapers, bot and of course manual with all those spelling errors, just been sorting one of the manual ones out.

    Good luck.

  6. Nyagoslav says:

    Matt,

    Two evidences:

    1) The changes reported in the email are not the same as the changes done by the Google rep.

    2) The changes reported in the email are based on an algorithm and the email is automated. The changes done by the Google rep, for which they notified you it would take 4-6 weeks to happen have been done manually and the email you received is also sent manually (although maybe based on a template).

  7. What has been done by a google rep prior to the email?

  8. Some things do do for the weekend.

    Searching on ‘windermere real estate tri-cities’
    shows Chris Powell and Cari McGee at 329 North Kellog with (509) 542-7888
    which all looks OK.

    I see Cari McGee, Real Estate Agent so perhaps you have changed the name and it is better not to have Windermere in there.

    A. You need to ask Group One to remove Cari’s picture from their Places entry, unless its a merge by google in which case you need to find the source.

    B. A search for ‘Cari McGee Real Estate Agent’ brings up the website for
    - Windermere Group One / Tri-cities
    - Tri Cities Airport
    You need to ask Group One to remove any links in their web site.

    C. I would edit Cari’s (392 North Kellog) Mapmaker entry so it has the right name and the office no as the primary one and her (and Chris Powells mobile?) as a secondary one.
    Also worth aligning content with her Places (and Chris’s) entry is worthwhile.

    D. Search on Cari McGee (509) 430-5342 Comments from page 1
    1- Yahoo.com has the old Group One details so important to change
    2- ActiveRain has the Group One phone no (509) 946-1188 x 259

    Once those are sorted out we can see what shows up then.

    I am sorting out an ambulance chaser at the moment and tidying up the rubbish has made a duplicate now pop out.

    It would be nice to see Cari’s Places entry content as that is the driver of what we can get to show in a blended search.

    Cheers. Andrew.

  9. bill says:

    Matt, this is not Google Businesses. It is Google Places. Google only wants one business for each place location. I realize that this is problematic for separate businesses that share office space…but it’s Google’s service and they make the rules. There are many reasons to point fingers at Google, but IMO this is not one of them.

    • Matt McGee says:

      Bill – Google recognizes that doctors, dentists, lawyers, stylists and real estate agents are just some of the professions where multiple businesses share an address. There’s nothing in the guidelines that says “one business for each place location.”

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