Utterly Frustrating Experience With Google’s LBC

You’ve got a client whom you’re helping to edit and create local profiles in order to ensure that their local contact information is well and truly represented across the web. It’s not a hard task, and really, the only challenging part comes in when the client’s participation is required as part of the editing process…as is the case with doing edits to a Google Local Business Center Listing.

The job at hand is to make a simple change to the client’s phone number. Your client is an incredibly busy small business owner, and you want to make everything as quick and trouble-free for them as possible. You’ve got the client’s Google login info. You’ve logged in. You’ve changed the phone number from their generic 800 number to their more geo-friendly local number. You hit save and reach the page that asks you if you’d like a phone call or a postcard in order to verify that you are making an authorized change to the record.

You phone the client, rejoice that you reach him, give him his pin number and tell him to sit tight by the phone. For some reason, despite the fact that you’ve just entered the new local area code number, Google says it wants to call the 800 number. You ask the client if he can answer that phone at this moment. He says, “no sweat.” Man, you feel good. This is going to be a breeze. So, you hang up, request the phone call and wait to hear that all has gone well.

A minute later, the LBC screen says it tried to call but was unsuccessful. You call the client back and he says, “I don’t understand what happened. It asked me to press 1 if I wanted to continue. I pressed 1 and then nothing happened after that.”

In a cheerful tone of perseverance, you tell the client, “oops, let’s try it again.”

You authorize phone call #2 and this time, for some reason you can’t figure out, Google is saying they will call the new local number. Only God knows why. You give the client the new pin, wait the 5 minutes for Google to call and, yet again, see the dreaded message that the call, which Google is now saying it placed to the 800 number despite saying 5 minutes ago it was going to call the local number, was unsuccessful. You call the client back. He’s sounding a little flustered at this point and says, “So I got through the part where I pressed 1 this time and it told me to enter my pin number. I did, and then nothing happened.”

“There wasn’t a confirmation that you’d entered the pin?”

“No…it’s like there was nothing there.”

Your cheerful tone of perseverance sounds a bit shaky this time as you say,

“Well, it sounds like something must be wrong with Google’s phone system right now, and unfortunately, they won’t let us keep trying indefinitely, so I think we may need to go the route of them sending you a postcard.”

“But won’t that delay things?”

“Yes, it will a bit. Hopefully not too much. I’m afraid these problems with Google’s Local Business Center are pretty common. It’s a headache, I know. You’ll get a postcard with a phone number and a pin number on it. You’ll call the number and enter the pin.”

And if your client says, “and I bet that will work just great,” who can blame him? His confidence in Google’s Local Business Center has just shriveled up like last month’s birthday balloon. And you’re feeling pretty annoyed that, having gotten everything lined up for a smooth run-through of your task as the Local SEO, every step went off without a hitch until it was Google’s turn to come through.

I know, there are always reports circulating of people having an utterly frustrating experience with the LBC, and going through it with your own clients makes you shake your head at the thought of the small business owners who are trying to get some simple task like this done without any outside guidance at all. My client today wasn’t sure whether his pin number had been accepted on the last call or not, and it was only Google’s ‘unsuccessful’ message in the dashboard that told me we had failed to get our business done.

I would really like to know what that monkey business was with Google saying it was calling one number and then saying it had called a different one. I’d like to know why, after entering the new local number, Google said it was going to call the 800 number in the first place. We’re entering a NEW number. Can you call us at the new number? Yes, no, maybe, uh…

As a Local SEO, I see one of my main duties as being the organization of various tasks that need to get done in order to strengthen a client’s local visibility. For a small business owner, it’s pretty helpful to be able to depend on someone like me who can tell them, “now we need to do this, and now this, and now this.” I have a little list of places I like to create profiles. Some local indexes make it so easy. But I’ve begun to notice that every time I have to make changes in Google’s LBC, I have this breathless feeling of not knowing whether what I’m about to do is going to actually work and make my client happy or fizzle like a wet firecracker and leave me looking impotent. I really can do good things for my local clients…really I can…if Google lets me.

I ended up feeling frustrated throughout the rest of my work day today because of this mysterious glitch in the LBC. Why couldn’t it just have gone well? Oh, well. Anyone else having this issue lately? Tell me about it.

18 Responses to “Utterly Frustrating Experience With Google’s LBC”

  1. on 23 Apr 2009 at 7:39 am David Mihm

    I haven’t had this issue per se but I’ve long been frustrated with the lack of aural confirmation after you enter your PIN (and the automated message in general). Rather than just hanging up and leaving dead air, and a SMB wondering if he’s actually one it right, why not say something like:

    “Thanks for confirming your business with Google. If you have any questions about your listing, or want to learn more about getting your business online, visit google.com/localhelp” or something like that where they can go for more information.

  2. on 23 Apr 2009 at 7:46 am Cameron

    I’ve experienced the same thing with a local dentist. The tone from his phone system doesn’t register with Google’s verification system.

    It just hangs waiting for us to enter 1, which we keep doing until Google hangs up.

    To add insult to injury, the first post card was lost, likely thrown out by the office manager.

    Claiming his listing has been worse than a root canal….

    Please Google, use the same tech that runs your 411 service.

  3. on 23 Apr 2009 at 1:31 pm admin

    Hi David,
    I so agree, and in this case, the dead air appears to have indicated that the verification didn’t work, not that it did. So that really makes it confusing.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  4. on 23 Apr 2009 at 1:33 pm admin

    Welcome to the SEOigloo Blog Cameron!

    Grrr…I can feel your frustration with this. And I am always afraid that when phone verification doesn’t work that the postcard will get lost! I can certainly empathize with you and the dentist. Did you have to request another postcard? Did Google let you? I’d like to know what you did next.


  5. on 23 Apr 2009 at 2:58 pm Cameron

    We just found a perfect solution.

    We setup a temporary call forward to my cell phone. *73 on his carrier, then entered my cell number. I hit verify on Google LBC, the call came through to my cell, I typed in the pin. Viola done.

    We setup the forwarding after hours and it only took about 1 minute. Once the listing was verified he dialed *73 again to end the forwarding.

    Happy dentist.

    I feel stupid for not thinking of it earlier. Hope it helps.

  6. on 23 Apr 2009 at 5:17 pm admin

    Thanks for coming back to explain that Cameron. Well, I congratulate you on finding a solution, but hey, what a crazy thing for you to have to do this workaround! Seems like an awful lot of effort to have to setup call forwarding just so you client can have a verified business listing. Sheesh.

    Good job finding a creative solution. I bet the dentist is sitting back in tremendous relief. But Google shouldn’t get to sit down until they make this experience more user-friendly.

  7. […] Utterly Frustrating Experience With Google’s LBC, SEO Igloo Blog […]

  8. on 25 Apr 2009 at 10:24 am Joseph Magnotti

    We too struggle with on a massive scale. Doing over 60 units a day, I have a force of 4 callers who do nothing but verify listings. We are able to phone verify 65% of the time. And that’s not because we can’t reach the customer — we do that over 90% of the time.

    The postcards are easily missed by our customers because they look so much like junk mail. The lack of agency support from Google is a real pain, we are adding to the value of Google Maps, but they give us back nothing in return.

  9. on 25 Apr 2009 at 1:10 pm admin

    Welcome, Joseph!

    Your 65% estimate is pretty stunning. A system that is 65% functional is seriously flawed, and I’d really like Google to know that this is your experience. I’m assuming this is with your company – elocallisting. Have you guys blogged about this? Tried to talk to Google about this? A figure like that deserves attention!

    Thanks so much for stopping by. It’s a pleasure to have you here.


  10. on 25 Apr 2009 at 4:47 pm Rori Rasel

    I have to do this for a customer on Monday… And after reading your post, I am not looking forward to it. But I do appreciate your “head’s up” – thanks for the insight.


  11. on 26 Apr 2009 at 2:06 pm admin

    Welcome Rori,
    And, good luck with getting verification to work when you try. Maybe it will go off without a hitch for you.

    Rori – on a side note – we rec’d an email from you about a week ago regarding our service: The Long Email

    The comment just had your name and email address but not a description of why you were writing to us. I did respond, but hadn’t yet heard back from you. Please, do let us know if there is anything we can do for you!

    It’s great to have you here.

  12. on 27 Apr 2009 at 11:38 am Mike Blumenthal

    It seems that the call verification system has problems in Canada, problems with PBX and problems with…..

    There are a number of likely reproducible causes that would be incredibly useful if Google/or the community were able to document so that we could at least be able to predict when it might work and when it might not.

    The call forwarding solution is a good albeit complicated solution so that it is in the right hands.


  13. on 27 Apr 2009 at 1:12 pm admin

    Hi Mike,
    Just found your comment today. Yes, I thought Cameron’s solution was a creative one, but such a stretch of effort! It should be easier than this.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  14. on 07 May 2009 at 3:29 am Amy

    My issue is that I’ve recently joined a company (client-side) and there’s no trace of who set up the LBC listings for each of our hotels, whether it was someone internal or not.

    So now that i need to edit the listings for the company, how can i do it without the login details? I’ve searched extensively for advice from Google… to no avail.

  15. […] 07 May 2009 Here’s a great question from a reader that I thought deserved a blog-post-length reply. Reader, Amy, writes: My issue is that I’ve […]

  16. on 07 May 2009 at 3:27 pm admin

    Dear Amy,
    We think your question deserves a thorough answer, and have written a short blog post to reply:

    Hope you’ll come read this.

  17. on 11 May 2009 at 2:59 am bizsugar.com

    Utterly Frustrating Experience With Google’s LBC…

    Please be aware about this problem — Google Local Business Center Listing. This might affect your business too….

  18. on 12 Jul 2009 at 9:22 pm Matthew Hunt

    I have totally had the same problem quite a few times and I’m in Canada. It sometimes sucks to be up here in Canada – we seem to get only 3/4 of the services our southern neighbors seem to get.

    I noticed we also do not have the new analytics that Google has released on their LBC too. We don’t get Youtube PPC, we don’t get the same Google Base to submit products.

    Not that Yahoo Local nor Bing Local(former MSN) are any friendier to Canadian businesses. You can’t even get a local listing on them.

    Anyways, funny post – feel your pain, been there with ya!

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