Following are some Google Places updates, bug reports and fixes. I have also observed a number of changes lately, some fairly minor, however if your Google Places listing is affected by one of these issues it may be a big deal. So I wanted to share what I’ve observed. Confirm if you are seeing any of these things.

NEW – SHORT LINK FOR PLACE PAGES – The long awaited short URL for Places pages is finally here. I just discovered it last night. Maybe it’s been there for awhile and I just noticed, but I don’t recall anyone else blogging about it, so I think it’s new.

Google Places Short URL

REVIEWS – YELP TOTALLY REMOVED? – From some limited research I’ve done, it appears Yelp is no longer listed at all in reviews from around the web. Does that mean they are not counted in the algo either or have they just been removed from view? Not sure yet. My market does not really rely on Yelp reviews so I have not dug too deeply. But check for yourself and tell me if you find any. I did some restaurant searches in major cities because restaurants tend to have lots of Yelp reviews. Zip. Zilch. Nada. I also checked some recent SERP screenshots that WERE showing Yelp reviews a couple weeks ago. Now they are not. (Are they having another fight?)

BUG – WEB SITE MISSING FROM PLACE PAGE & SERPS – A large number of users are reporting that their web site is missing even though it’s listed in the dashboard. So double check your listings. I think the last update tweaked something in the URL structure and if you added www. without the http: then your URL stopped displaying. (My guess, but that appears to be the case.)

FIX – WEB SITE MISSINGHere’s a blog post that offers a super easy solution. Note I have not experienced this problem, have not tried the fix and do not know the source of this info, so as always, do your due diligence before tweaking anything on your Place page. Sometimes a tweak designed to help makes things worse. Sometimes it’s best to wait for a Google fix. But if you are desperate – here’s the info, which seems innocent enough.

BUG – DO NOT SUPPORT THE LOCATION – We currently do not support the location is a common problem that users in the forum report. It often happens with new listings and can typically be fixed by making a small edit or a post. However PlacesProJay posted in the forum something that makes me think there is a bug in the system. On 8/18 PlacesProJay replied to a user request for help by saying: “We’re aware of this issue and our engineers are working on resolving this and it should be resolved soon.”

POSSIBLE ALGO UPDATE??? Is anyone else seeing TONS more 7 packs for core keywords in big cities that usually show blended? Is anyone else seeing tons of 7 packs in major competitive markets that don’t seem to be following the ‘old’ Place algo at all? I’ve just been noticing lots of odd results in spot checks I’ve been doing but have not had time to analyze. Anyone notice the same or have any theories?

DESCRIPTIONS – The missing descriptions appear to have come back for most Places. However with the last few Place pages I’ve optimized, even though the categories update right away the description does not. It stays the same as the original or sometimes changes to a version from a merged ghost dupe, but the new description does now show. So I assume per Joel from Google’s comment we can expect descriptions to update after the next GP update in 6 – 10 weeks.

NEW TRICKS – I just took a Dentist from #16 to #2 OVERNIGHT with some specific on-site optimization techniques I discovered. (Didn’t touch his Place page.) This technique and more will be available at some point in a new product I’m developing. I’ve also discovered lots of new ways to overcome the slow description update and missing review problems and have quite a few other new tricks up my sleeve. Additionally I discovered some awesome FREE software that does MAJOR DEEP Places/Local SEO ranking analysis. But it has some bugs so I’m not ready to announce yet. On top of all that I’m BETA testing some promising new rank tracking software that ALSO does competitive analysis. VERY HOT! I’ve recommended some improvements and once they finish the programming the next version, if it works well, I’ll be ready to share.

Stay tuned to the blog as I may share some of the above info over time. But I share EVERYTHING when you get my Advanced Google Places Training. 😉