Musings On Unclaimed Google Maps Listings

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?

claim listing

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.

5 Responses to “Musings On Unclaimed Google Maps Listings”

  1. on 29 Jun 2009 at 5:57 pm Andy Corp

    How true. I was doing a Google local review for some friends of mine who don’t have a website. As review went along I discovered that they were already listed for some keywords by a third party vendor.

    Now these dear friends have a hard time opening a email and for me to explain that they were already listed in Google local was a little tough.

    I believe most of the confusion comes from the fact the Google list from third party sources with no interaction from the business owner.

    Google could be the hero in this situation with a little PR. Think about it…. “We at Google are proud to list your local business at no charge and send you customers that you didn’t even know were looking for you”…….. or whatever but Google is sending business
    to the local community. In the days of outsourcing and layoffs sending business to your door is huge.

    Image of the superman logo but has “G” instead of a “S”
    “Google the local Hero”

    Andy

    Andy

  2. on 30 Jun 2009 at 12:14 am admin

    Welcome to the SEOigloo, Andy,
    I not only empathize with your situation of working with clients who are less than thrilled with computers and the web, but I also like your scenario of Google the hero.

    A major portion of Google’s local index was created from the data of 3rd party data providers, so most businesses will find that they are already listed – unless they are brand new. This can definitely confuse business owners who suddenly discover that Google is already representing them publicly, without the owner ever having been notified of this.

    Keep up the good work trying to educate your clients about what they need to know and do! I hope you’ll stop by again. Thanks for taking the time to comment.
    Miriam

  3. on 30 Jun 2009 at 4:48 pm Earlpearl

    Miriam:

    After reading your post I randomly picked 3 long term well known popular successful and quality restaurants in my large metro region. The 3 have garnered incredible reviews over many years. I also picked a 4th place, very local to me, popular, successful as a neighborhood place.

    How many claimed listings? ZERO.

    not a good percentage at all.

    From an algorithmic and quality of information basis, I would think that the best information for a business would come from the claimed listing. However, I suspect that a majority of businesses in Google and the other engines aren’t claimed.

    I bet the search engines realize this. Maybe that is why they don’t put extraordinary weight to the information from the claimed listing…and that is why so many problems with information showing in G Maps.

    Of the last restaurant, I know the owner better than the others. He is interested in this stuff, advertises a bit with different web garbage (IYP’s ;) )—but he’d do better with a strong signal that clearly indicated to the engines what his site is all about.

    Meanwhile, its almost impossible to educated a good guy like him to its value.

    BUT ZERO for Four….not a good percentage at all. ugh.

  4. on 03 Jul 2009 at 1:17 pm admin

    Oh, great little random test there, Dave, and your findings match mine. I consider it an exception, rather than the rule, to come across claimed listings in Google Maps when I’m searching for things. It’s so true that this is a sorry state of affairs.

    Don’t you wish you could get your restaurant owner friend to understand the importance of this? Maybe you could hook him up with Mike’s restaurant owner friend/client in Olean! I have often wondered if word of Maps spreads in a B2B setting (one shopkeeper telling another that he claimed his listing) but I have yet to come across any evidence of this in my conversations with business owners.

    The truth is, almost none of them have any idea that they’ve been indexed.

    Well, keep working on it, Dave!
    Thanks for coming by!
    Miriam

  5. on 10 Jul 2009 at 6:43 am Shagun Vatsa

    Interesting post and you have raised a very valid point. I was trying to access your post about claiming a map listing on Google but you’re article seems to have moved from the location you have provided.

    I agree with you that Google needs to come up with new ways to increase the application of claiming a business listing. A suggestion could be that if a map listing is unclaimed, it should indicate so in the more information tab. Google Maps follows a similar approach in indicating if a business listing is unverified.

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