SMB’s (Small Businesses) today are at the mercy of the Google Places local business directory. While many local companies are unaware of the potential increases that they might find in phone calls, sales, and profits from gaining a great rank on the 3-pack of the Google Places Map, more astute owners are working hard to get those rankings and then hold on to them.
However, while Google Places can be a big traffic generator, it is a fickle friend of local business. Mysteriously, or so it seems, your listing may drop in rank, drop off of the 3-pack, drop out of site completely, or be reviewed, suspended, or have the analytics stop showing, and the words “location not supported” appear.
Google would undoubtedly be the first to admit that sometimes, maybe even often times, these problems are due to hiccups in their systems. Clearly there are times when Google is introducing something new like tags or “instant” where listings are thrown into a tizzy for a day or two, just to come back to normal later. And, Google is constantly changing their methods of dealing with various things, and they don’t always tell the rest of us what they are up to.
On the other hand, there are some very serious KNOWN reasons why your listing may be in trouble or merely sinking in the rankings. Here are the big ones:
– Spammy information in your listing. This can be the name, address, phone number, description, and possibly the details. It can also be that your first business category is not one that Google Places has on the drop down menu when you set up the listing. See Google’s rules to determine if what you are doing is outside of their terms.
-Your website field contains a forwarding URL. As per the guidelines, “Do not provide phone numbers or URLs that redirect or ‘refer’ users to landing pages.” This often results in a soft suspension.
-You are adding extra keywords to your business name field
As per the guidelines:
Adding unnecessary information to your name (e.g., “Google Inc. – Mountain View Corporate Headquarters” instead of “Google”) by including marketing taglines, store codes, special characters, hours or closed/open status, phone numbers, website URLs, service/product information, location/address or directions, or containment information (e.g., “Chase ATM in Duane Reade”) is not permitted.
– The location marker is incorrect. Maybe you moved it to make it closer to the center of town. Maybe you didn’t move it, but Google has decided it isn’t correct. Make sure the marker is in the right place.
– Your description contains words that repeat what is in your basic information, such as city or address.
– You don’t have any or enough reviews. If your competition is getting new reviews and you are not, you will drop in rank.
– You created a listing at a virtual office or mailbox
If your business rents a temporary, “virtual” office at a different address from your primary business, do not create a page for that location unless it is staffed during your normal business hours.
– Google is not able to find any or very much information about you elsewhere on the web. This is called citations. Google wants your information on the listing to be the same as it is on Yelp or Yahoo and especially on your website, or other websites that talk about you. If your competition has more great citations, you may drop in rank
– More on citations. If your name is spumy and filled with keywords or city information, and your website and other places on the web only show the basic name without the spam, you may drop way down or even be suspended.
– Google is now calling businesses to make sure that they really exist. If they call your company number and get bad information, we can only guess at the consequences.
– Multiple listings for the same address or phone number are well documented as a way to lose rank or get suspended or even black balled.
You can reverse all of the above and see each of these as ways to optimize your listing on Google Places.