Monday 29 Jun 2009
I’ve heard my local search colleagues mention a number of times that no one is quite sure what percentage of Google’s local business listings are sitting unclaimed – but everyone seems to agree that the number must be huge.
I know this to be true, because nearly any time I go to pull an example of something from Maps for an article, use Maps to find a local business or entertain myself by reading user reviews, the business listings I see are unclaimed. Case in point: I wrote a short piece for Search Engine Guide today detailing how to claim your Google Maps listing. I needed to get an example to show an unclaimed business listing in my SEG article, and all I had to do was pull a business name out of my hat (in this case, Kmart in San Mateo, CA) and sure enough, the listing was unclaimed.
Doesn’t that say a lot about the problem? I feel as though I’d be making a safe bet randomly picking a business and betting that it wouldn’t be claimed. Perhaps we can start a numbers racket over this in the Local Search community.
More seriously, I wrote my Search Engine Guide article because I keep running into basic questions about the mechanics of claiming one’s listing. Google hasn’t made the importance or practice of this clear enough. How could they improve their ratio of claimed to unclaimed listings? I have one small suggestion.
You know when you get to this part in looking at a business in Maps?
What if instead of simply having an ‘edit’ link, the popup clearly stated:
This business listing has not been claimed by the owner. Claim it!
I know if we click edit we get the popup with the, Are you the owner? Claim your business, but we’re already 3 clicks into the process by that point and Google isn’t expressly stating that the listing is unclaimed. I’d like the top level popup to state that the business listing hasn’t been claimed, in clear, strong language. Perhaps even with a link to a Google page explaining why a business owner should claim his listing. This would really improve the usability of the application and might just increase the number of claimed listings in the index.
How do you think Google could improve the ratio of claimed to unclaimed listings? I’d be interested to know if you have any bright ideas.