local seo and google seo with google places

Today, like many small business owners, I got a very welcome email from The Google Places Team. It says that they are going to update the Google Places listings with latest accurate information soon.

Google Places which formally used to be Google Maps Listings and Google Tags is probably the best tool for small local businesses to be infront of their local customers. And for small businesses specially with a physical presence, local search optimization is probably the most cost effective high ROI marketing strategy. You can read our article on local search marketing by clicking here.

But this excellent free tool was forever plagued with problems such as duplicate content, content merge and data cleansing. Since, and I am guessing, Google probably uses automated scripts or programs to pull data about a particular company from various sources, if a consistent information was not provided everywhere online, data mis-match issues were common. e,g: I personally have written to Google Places several times trying to update our main phone number to 1 (617) 202-9242. Only a few months ago, Finally I saw that this change was made.

Good folks at Google actually openly confessed that they were aware of data and business information issues and were expecting this update sooner or later

So what does this mean to you? If you have a Google Places listing, then you need to review your listing by loggin into Google Places account and making sure that the information is accurate and up-to-date. This will ensure that all citations from Google and other listings in the wild are consistent – making it easy for your prospective customers to find you.

Here is the email I received from Google Places

Your listing on Google Places will soon be updated
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:

Boston Webdesign, LLC.
3 Pine Street, Sharon, Massachusetts, 02067, US
+1 6172029242

If the above information is not accurate, please sign in to Google Places. You may prevent any of these changes from being made on your Place page and listing by selecting "Edit", and then pressing the "Submit" button to confirm the correct information about your business.

If you submit data to Google via a feed, please ensure that the data in your feed is accurate and current. Note that you must update listing data in your feed to prevent changes from being made to the above listings.

Note that if you are an AdWords or AdWords Express customer, your ads will be unaffected by this change and will continue to display the listing information you have provided in Google Places. To manage your online advertisements, please sign into Google Places or Google AdWords.

For more information about updates to claimed listings, please visit: http://www.google.com/support/places/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=1318197

The Google Places Team

(c) 2011 Google Inc. 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, CA 94043

You have received this mandatory email service announcement to update you about important changes to your Google Places product or account.

(c) 2010 Google Inc. All Rights Reserved.