In my Advanced Places Optimization Training, one of the things I tell consultants and SEO companies I train is that scanning the forum DAILY is crucial to Google Places success. That’s how you can stay up-to-date on Google Places changes, bugs, new penalties, ranking tips and learn to navigate some of the Places minefields. But it’s hard to make time to read every post, especially for marketing companies that don’t live and breathe Google Places exclusively.

Since I live in the forum and read almost every post, I thought I’d do a summary post of important issues that have come up recently. If this you find this helpful, please let me know and I can try to make it a regular feature.

I’m breaking this into 5 primary category labels

HOT TIPS – Insights, advice, algo changes, ranking tips
WARNINGS – Guideline changes, new penalties
BUGS – Google Places Bugs or new problems
GOOGLE BLUNDERS – Unclear Google policies or problems that don’t fit above
SMB BLOOPERS – Small Business Bloopers; Comic relief, crazy rants, funny posts, spammy behavior, negative rants and definitely don’t do this if you value your Place page type warnings.

WARNING – Invisible Purgatory Penalty – Google is cracking down and appears to be penalizing more listings for a variety of guideline violations. It’s an INVISIBLE penalty state – it’s like being suspended but with no red suspended warning. TELLTALE WARNING SIGNS – No stats in dashboard and no link to view listing on maps on location screen. Here are links to the 3 main threads in question with several examples and advice from Vanessa. Google Places Dashboard is Acting Weird – No Link to View Your Listing AND Impressions, Actions, link to listings in the entire account are all GONE. The account is NOT suspended AND All the listings say Active but….

HOT TIP – Descriptions: How to craft a good Google Places description and avoid keyword spam. Also see What constitutes Description spam? Joel Headley from Google answers Q about keyword spam in descriptions.

SMB BLOOPERSBusiness Owner accuses mystery person of “fraudulent act” – NOPE it’s just Google being Google! User said: “Could you please provide the IP address and the MAC address of the culprit whom has committed this fraud. We will be providing information to the police to investigate further” My reply: “I don’t think the police will arrest Google and that’s who did it.”

HOT TIPCorrect Way to Delete Duplicate Listing – I weigh in with my best advice and Vanessa explains Google’s preferred method.

HOT TIPRemoving Doctor listings without harming existing pages – Not sure advice here is best. I’m conflicted about this for reasons I mention.

WARNING – TONS of Places pages are being deleted due to the new guideline that you need to hide your address if you have a home office or a location where you do not do business. Several reports a day from folks getting a call from Google and then immediately their Place page disappears. Too many posts to list. If you missed the news about this important new guideline: New Google Places Guideline – Hide your Address or Risk Losing your Place Page

GOOGLE BLUNDERS – LOST REVIEWS Florist 3rd Post Down. Absolutely heart broken over all her lost reviews. Can you blame her? I really feel for these folks and she explains the pain well.

HOT TIPLocal SEO advice for SMBs – I share a few tips.

GOOGLE BLUNDERSComplaints re poor English, rude calls from Google, hangups then Place pages deleted. Vanessa responds: “Yes, I hear your feedback loud and clear — I hear the feedback every day from users. We’re working on it, so that you don’t have to deal with this in the future.” Then in this thread she says: “As I just said on another thread, we’re working on improving the quality of our moderation. It’s just tough to verify service area businesses, and we make mistakes along the way; but note we do also catch a lot of spam in the process too.”

GOOGLE BLUNDERS – Dupes and merges continue to be an on-going struggle. Here is one attorney’s account. Whack a Mole Google Places Account

WHEW! There are so many more, but I’m out of time. This is good for starters to gauge interest…

Learn anything new? Was this is helpful? Let me know in comments below and with enough support I’ll try to make roundups like this a regular feature.
OH and if I missed anything important, feel free to share in comments as well!

Image UNcredit – I am so sorry. Found this image on my PC but have no idea where I got it so can’t credit source.