Yesterday, Google announced a significant change in the Places algorithm to improve the index rate, and automatically update claimed listings from trusted 3rd party sources. What does this mean to you? Well, if you have a claimed Places listing, Google may automatically update your account without your consent. An email will be sent to you if an update is about to occur, which will give you the opportunity to override any changes that will occur.
" if a user provides new information about a business they know — or if our system identifies information from another source on the web that may be more recent than the data the business owner provided via Google Places — the organic listing will automatically be updated and the business owner will be sent an email notification about the change."
Google is obviously trying to shore up discrepancies that creep into their database. Late last year, Google announced a similar program that had a 60-day window for business owners to react. This new change will make these changes much more imminent, a few weeks in most cases.
Keep a lookout, below is an excerpt of the letter that will be sent to business owners:
Dear Google Places user,
Google will soon update your listing data on our consumer properties such as Google and Google Maps to more accurately reflect the latest information we have about your business. We use many sources to determine the accuracy of our listing data and to provide the best possible experience for business owners and consumers who use Google and Google Maps to find local information.
Below is a summary of what your listing(s) will contain once it’s updated in the next few weeks. This will be visible on your Place page and listings across Google properties, but it will not be reflected in your Google Places account
According to Google, local searches now account for 20% of all searches on Google, which equates to 2.8 billion searches per month. Because of this massive shift to local resources, Google has invested a ton of resources to ensure the local search model is successful, it seems logical they would start at the heart of the program, Places.
Overall if this program is carefully implemented, I think it will end with good results. Since only 2% of business owners have claimed their Places account, they know they have to push the envelop in many areas. The downside to this new program, is business owners will need to keep a watchful eye on updates that occur.
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