Comments on NYT Article Verify Need for PowerListings

Early this morning our CEO, Howard Lerman, posted a great response to the New York Times article about Google Places listing businesses as closed when they are in fact open. Since his response, numerous other publications have picked up on the story and given their take on the story. Even local business owners and Google searchers are chiming in. The article has already received 100 comments since it was posted last night.

It is true that having your business listed on Google is a free service, but Google should still recognize that having incorrect business information can result in thousands of dollars of lost revenue for many of these businesses. Allowing anyone to alter a business’ listing information can result in miss-information. There are incentives for competing businesses to alter each others information. Telling Google that a business is closed is just one of the many ways in which a competitor might harm your online listing. Changing hours of operation or your street address are a few others. In an environment like Google Places, where many businesses are competing for your click, things can and often do get messy.

To make matters worse, since Google is such a large enterprise, it could take weeks or even months to resolve a listing with incorrect information.

There are a number of things that we are doing at Yext to insure that business owners have complete control over their listings.

Inability to Over-write PowerListings Information
Once a PowerListing is created for a business, this information cannot be over-written  by anyone without the correct PowerListings credentials. This prevents individuals and data-providers from incorrectly changing your business listings on all of the sites in the Yext Network.

Quick Updates
For a small business, each day they are listed incorrectly can cost a tremendous amount of money. If a business owner notices that their listing information is incorrect they should be able to update the information and expect it to take hours, not weeks, to update. Thanks to the close relationships and technical integrations between Yext and our network partners. PowerListings users can expect their listing information to be updated quickly and without hassle.

Ease of Use
Even if you know your business listing information is incorrect, it can still be incredibly hard to figure out how (if it’s even possible) to request that the information be updated. Yext PowerListings allow business owners to modify their listing information in one single dashboard, and then we take care of the rest. Your listing information will automatically be updated among all of our network partners.

If you don’t believe this is a problem that needs solving take a look at some of the comments on the New York Times article posted earlier today.

Google has way too much influence and is not acting in a responsible way. I too have tried to get errors fixed on my address, and after some efforts, there is still no correction.
-Carolyn Egeli
Valley Lee, Md.

I have had similar problems with inaccurate information being posted on my Google Places page. I notified Google via email since they’ve never had the common sense to list a phone number and 3 weeks later got a phone call from some guy who didn’t even identify himself as a Google rep. He simply started asking me questions about the listing. Then he hung up without ever telling me a thing about how they would resolve the issues.

I got a new phone number more than two years ago. Google still lists the number for the previous holder, a community service organization. I have contacted Google and the webhoster – nothing. I’m polite to the callers, but after this amount of time, I’m getting annoyed.

It’s apparent from the large number of comments that the listings problem is a pain point for many business owners. With this affirmation, we at Yext are going to be working longer and harder to continue to make business listings simple (did I mention we are hiring?). What problems have you had with Google Places and other business listings sites? Let us know in the comments below.

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