Stayin Alive after Google Death: One call that nearly destroyed my business (part 2 of 3)

Stayin Alive album art

Last blog post I talked about Google Death–when Google improperly removes your business’s listing. When I contacted Google I got the standard, canned, response (which I Googled to find out it was standard)

I made some minor changes to the listing such as deleting an old location, but it had no effect. Eventually I got the response

Hello Dave ,

Thank you for your cooperation.

We have identified the cause of your listing not showing and we have queued your listing up for review.

We don’t have a concrete timeline which we can give for this. We are working with our Engineering teams to establish a pathway to revive your listing. Your submission helps us keep track of this problem and we will be reviewing your listing. I’ll also be following up with you once your listing is reviewed.

Thanks for your understanding and patience.

Business owners in forums told me this was the kiss of death. It means your listing may never come back. When you consider the age of the universe and how long the planet is expected to be around, a few decades isn’t really a long time in the grand scheme of things? For a business, being delisted even a few days is an eternity but a few weeks or months is game changing. The more you rely on Google the more you are at risk.

That’s really the big lesson I learned as my listings slowly come back. Last time I talked about the importance of taking a call from 650-253-2000, but really what I learned is not to put your eggs all in one basket. Here are some reviews that I lost (next blog post I’ll talk about the importance of taking these screen shots

Computer Repair in Lawrence KS review on Google-I highly recommend him

Computer Repair in Lawrence KS review on Google-I trust him at home and work

Computer Repair in Lawrence KS review on Google-putting customers first

Unofficially I got the response (confirmed by other business owners) that Google+ Local (formerly Google Places) is a free product provided by Google. While you may have input and perceived control over the listing, none of the information belongs to you. If they violate copyright law or steal your intellectual property, you may request a take down but your listing isn’t your own. Similarly, those reviews of your business aren’t your own — they belong to the writer and Google publishes them.

While my problems were isolated to Google, these type of issues exist with any third party service. For example, Yelp’s “filter” 80% of the reviews of DoctorDave Computer Repair. You can’t see the great things people say about us (unless you click the filtered section) and I’m helpless to fix it. Here are some examples of the reviews that you have to pass through the filter to see.

Computer Repair in Lawrence KS review on Yelp by Suan C

Computer Repair in Lawrence KS review on Yelp by Brian C

Computer Repair in Lawrence KS review on Yelp by Madeline F

Fortunately I haven’t had a problem on Facebook and have lots of great fans but if my account were ever hacked or a competitor tried to complain I could suffer the same kind of fate. I know a business in Lawrence that was split and the Facebook page was a major point of contention. Even Twitter could suspend your account if they get enough reports of spam (legitimately or in a tactic to tarnish your social media presences).

Ultimately, the lesson I learned about these social media tools is that despite having an account and the ability to modify information, they are not owned by you. Your privilege to use, modify or keep that information is solely at the discretion of the host. Much like the sign on a business that says “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone,” these companies may do the same and without notice of recourse. Therefore, to keep your business alive it’s essential to diversify. Don’t focus exclusively on Yelp, Google, Facebook, etc. Keep content on each of them but have a contingency plan if one (or more) of them lock you out or your presence is lost. I’ll tell you what I did next time.

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