Thursday 08 Oct 2009
I think I’ll have to pinch myself! Has anyone noticed that Google seems to be throwing a surprise party this week? After years of collective public admonishment, cajoling, begging and pleading with Google’s Maps department to start backing up their giant local information entity with a sense of accountability, pebbles seem to be slipping down from the mountain top. Are we witnessing the beginning of an avalanche, a sea change in policy?
As the above video explains, Google Maps will now feature a Report A Problem link, giving users an astoundingly simple way to make a first contact with the Maps Department when data is incorrect. What’s more, Google is committing to respond to these problems within a month! I don’t read this as a guarantee that they will fix problems in a month and my understanding is that a very complicated process involving TeleAtlas (Google’s maps provider) is required to make some kinds of changes to Google Maps. My previous knowledge of this was that it could take months and months for some things to be fixed. But, who knows, with everything being so *weird* this week, maybe Google is developing some quicker method of verifying inaccuracies and resolving them. At the very least, the new Report A Problem link indicates a far more user-friendly approach to what has been Google’s historical utter lack of accessibility.
But that’s not all! Doubtless you’ve been following the news about the rollout of Google’s new Local Listing Ads. Advertising is nothing new for Google, but – get this – the ad program is going to come with…CUSTOMER SUPPORT!
Yes, the customer support which has been so startlingly absent from Google’s Local model…until now. When I read this news, I just couldn’t believe it, and it’s already being suggested that business owners will gladly sign up for the reported offer of the free 1 month trial, just to get someone at Google to speak with them regarding Local Business Center errors. I hope Google has a lot of telephones.
My Local landscape has been further altered by the rollout of the new 7-pack, replacing the old 10-pack in many places in the organic SERPs, and the bottom line is that things are changing and Google is full of surprises. I can’t wait to see what happens next!