Google Local Listings getting deleted?
I always recommend that my customers who have brick-and-mortar businesses, or provide a service to the local community, obtain a listing with the local search engines such as Google Places, Yahoo Local, Bing Local, and Yelp along with others. It is one of the best ways to get your business seen on the search engines. The reason being is the competition for business niches and keywords on local search is very low compared to the competition of a global search. That makes sense, so I guess it is no surprise this also has invited some less than ethical businesses to obtain a local listing when they do not meet the criteria of having an actual location or provide a local service. And apparently Google is cleaning house.
A friend of mine, who owns a local business that provides a service to local residents and businesses recently received a call from a person claiming to be with Google Places. He started asking my friend questions about his local listing. The person had a strong Indian accent and was hard to understand. My friend was a little leery and was thinking it was possibly some type of sales call or a scam. He was on his cell phone and his call disconnected right in the middle of the conversation. He went on with his day and did not think anything of it. Apparently the person calling was an actual Google representative because a week later he realized his Google Local listing got deleted!
I am doing some more research on this, and I have a feeling Google may be targeting companies that provide a service because they do not have an actual brick-and-mortar location and subsequently they do not have an address specified on their listing. My suggestion is to first make sure you qualify for a local listing with a brick and mortar location or a local service. If you do have a local service make sure your address is marked as hidden in your listing. And most importantly, if you get a call from google concerning your listing do not ignore it. Answer any questions they have and let them know you are a real, qualifying local business in your area.
My friend is in the process of getting his listing back, but anytime something gets submitted to Google for re-consideration it takes a long time. As of now it has been 5 weeks and he is still waiting. He has realized a loss of revenue because of his missing listing. One other reason to never put all of your marketing eggs into the Google basket. Perhaps the subject of a future article?