If you ever deal with any aspect of local SEO you know the Google Places dance. One step forward with 2 or three giant steps backwards followed by a bit of stumbling around then falling flat on your face with no one to help you up. It’s not a lot fun to do but apparently Google likes to watch their customers suffer through it.
Well, there may be some help. Starting last Thursday (Sept. 8, 2011) Google Places users have a two week window to pose questions about the things that baffle them about Google places like merged listings, listings appearing out of nowhere, places being listed as permanently closed. You get the drift.
The Google Small Business blog tells us
It’s important to us to continue hearing your great feedback — and we suspect you’ve had a lot of questions and ideas throughout the past year — so let’s fire up another Moderator page. Starting today and for the next two weeks, you can submit your questions and ideas, as well as vote up other submissions from users. We’ll answer some of the more popular questions directly on the page and post a new video or two to the Google Places YouTube channel.
To be fair Google did the same thing about a year ago and they stress that in their post and encourage readers to visit the YouTube page which has some of those responses.
But it’s a year later and much has changed including users’ level of frustration with Google’s lack of support and apparent lack of a cohesive plan for populating, managing and applying Google Places in a way to benefit users and business owners alike. The scattershot approach of adding and removing information, merging listings etc. etc has made this apparently important piece of the Google search puzzle more aggravating than anything else.
Marissa Mayer is the head of the local effort at Google that many sense will ultimately find some kind of a home as part of the Google+ business offering. She apparently is as much engineer as anything else though since customer service is still non-existent and the attitude from Google is that “If we come down off the mountain for two weeks each year that should shut up the whining masses”.
Honestly, while it makes for nice PR it is a pathetic gesture from Google. It’s weak and designed only to give the search Giant the ability to say “Hey, check out these neat videos to answer all your Google Places questions.” which is today’s poor substitute for actually helping someone with a problem.
So lay out the palm branches for the honor of being able to ask a question that may actually be seen by someone who receives a paycheck from Google. Remember though that when the window closes you’ll likely have to wait for another year for the privilege to be seen in the digital shadow of real help from Google around Places.
Hey anyone from Google who is reading this, this effort rates a “C’mon man!” If you don’t know what that is please Google it and figure it out for yourself and see how it feels.