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Google's place pages don't check the website names

 9:04 pm on Jan 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

i discovered today that someone has used my website's URL to register for one of Google's place pages.

My website's name is of the format 'Location-Noun.com' and someone who's business can be described with the same noun, in the same location as me, has used my site to get themselves on of those big red pins positioned above me in the SERPs.

Now... my site has got absolutely nothing to do with his business. The noun can have several different meanings, and anyone who ends up on my site looking for his business will immediately know that they're in the wrong place. it's a completely different subject.

I can only guess that he hasn't got a website of his own, and he thought he'd hijack my URL to benefit from the traffic that my site gets in the SERPs.

I think it's a bit out of order that Google allows people to effectively "claim ownership" of a website for their place page, without even checking if it's true.

I've had to email google to try and get my site disassociated with his business, but knowing how slow they reply to emails, i'm not holding my breath.



 10:00 pm on Jan 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

With the brief information provided, it's not completely clear to me that another local business necessarily attempted to hijack your URL. There are numerous cases of Google associating URLs with businesses incorrectly.

For instance, I've seen cases where a domain which matches the business name perfectly, but is for a business in a completely different state, is associated in Google Places.

Make sure your business name, address and phone number are clearly displayed in regular HTML text on your homepage in the Title, Meta Description, H1 tag, and regular body text in order to reduce chances of errors occuring.

Just a couple of days ago, I saw where Google associated a website of a restaurant with their next door neighbor's business listing (a hotel), merely because the hotel's name was listed on their page ("We're next door to ____") and because of similarity in street address.

If this other business is showing up as claimed by the owner, then maybe this situation was caused on purpose. If your business listing/PlacePage is not claimed, that could also contribute to increased chances of error.

If the URL appears on both their business's Place Page and yours, it would be more likely to benefit you or not do much to you.


 4:08 am on Jan 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

Such errors on Google's part are very common. I worked for a Yellow Pages company that provides data to G and we used to get complaints from listing owners for supplying bad data, but the investigations always showed that the error lies in the additional crawling of web data. In my current assignment at a bank, a few dozen ATM listings contained the URL of a competitor bank and substantial amounts of "related" and "nearby" data for the competitor's ATMs. This required phone calls to Google Maps in Sydney and the solution was for us to delete all our entries and to resubmit.

So, I suggest that you are seeing a fairly common problem and the other business is probably unaware of this.

Robert Charlton

 5:38 am on Jan 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

For instance, I've seen cases where a domain which matches the business name perfectly, but is for a business in a completely different state, is associated in Google Places.

I've seen Google make the mistake for a business with only two of three words associated with a website related to the business but not the main site. This was with a neighborbood produce store that hadn't claim its listing.

I assumed it was a hijacked listing and reported it to Google, and Google fixed it in a matter of days. I also told the grocer and suggested he claim his listing, which he's done.


 11:03 am on Jan 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

just an update: google have corrected it after i reported the page using their link. it only took them 5 days, which isn't too bad, so no harm done.

but i still think it's silly that they allow a website to become directly associated with a business when it's got nothing to do with it.
at the very least, they should do that thing where they ask the place page owner to deposit a file on their site, to prove that it's theirs.
and if google are just 'guessing' that the website belongs to the place page owner based on the words then that's even more silly.

the problem is that not every internet business is in a position to create a place page. because you have to link a physical address with it, which we might not want to do. and that leaves your URL hanging for anyone (or google) to pick up.


 3:57 pm on Jan 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

i've also seen goog make this mistake, search for a local rest, the unclaimed goog place page comes up with a link to a website that is about 600 miles away.

the domain name lines up but thats it, nothing else matches.


 4:10 pm on Jan 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

this must be their way of creating content.
if the user doesn't submit the info himself they try and figure out what it is.

it's not a lot different to auto blogging -- they take info from other places and throw it together in an effort to create more pages for traffic and ads.


 6:45 pm on Jun 21, 2011 (gmt 0)

sorry for resurrecting this old topic, but i thought this was interesting...

after google corrected their place page 5 months ago, to remove my URL off another businesses' page, i have just found out that they have done it again. they have linked my website to yet another business -- a totally different one this time.
Once again the business is totally unrelated to mine, and the only reason they have linked it is because we are based in the same place and share a generic word.

this shows how unreliable their place pages must be, if their automated system messes up the URL for just a single site twice in 5 months.


 9:34 pm on Jun 21, 2011 (gmt 0)

You need to check the entries at least every few weeks.

Google has an automated update system that will change the data every few weeks.


 8:50 pm on Jun 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

they sent me an email today saying they've fixed it. but all they've done is replace my URL with another incorrect URL. the site they've chosen shares the same location and generic word as the business, just like mine did, but its still obviously wrong. not that i care anymore, because my site has been reomved.

but i cant believe that a human would make the error -- they would have to be totally brainless, which obviously google employees are not -- so they must have automated it again, after removing my site from the list.

if they dont have any humans to check the details before putting it up, then the whole 'place pages' thing must be riddled with errors. i think its all about creating as much content as possible, and they rely on the public to point out the errors.

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