Google Places is the quickest way to gain exposure for your properties in the Google search engine. It's free and if you want to edit the free listings, all you have to do is claim them as yours. After that, just get your listings looking right with the correct categories and relevant content, and it's by far the easiest way to increase your Google ranking.
We claimed our listings after AIM in 2010 and although it was a fairly tedious process which required phone calls or mailings in some cases, we're obviously glad we did it. It drives leads. Periodically we go in and check the free analytics and make updates to some of the verbiage and business hours. Even after the transition from Google Places to Google Plus Local back in May 2012, all seemed well.
In order to upgrade our pretty ugly and outdated looking photography, we booked a Google Local photographer this week to go out and photograph several of our properties. Because the final photos and virtual tours will be uploaded to the properties' Google Plus Local account, I went into our Places Dashboard to check our listings. To my surprise, when clicking on the "See your listing on Google" link, I got this message:
“We do not support this location!”
Wait a minute. "We do not support this location?" What does this mean and where did our listing go? Turns out this error message affected nearly twenty-five percent of our listings. It's worse than just a simple error message though. These claimed listings are gone. What is even more troubling is our dashboard shows this listing as Active. It even has Actions and Impressions!
“View of what the normal listing looks like.”
Here's what happened in Google's words:
“Earlier this summer, Google removed a large number of residentially located service area businesses (SAB) from the index for not hiding their address. While Google was trying to clean up the index, a number of these SABs were removed in error. It turned out that Google was unable to restore many of those erroneously removed to the index. Some business listings have been restored but others have been waiting now for a number of months.”
Leasing offices could mistakenly be considered a SAB because they are "businesses" operating in a residential area. Still, removing the listing IS a Google error but getting them to fix it is close to impossible. So what did I do? First, I went into Google Plus and searched for each missing property listings. I was able to find the restored listing again but as it turns out my claimed rights had been lost. So, I've had to start the claiming process all over again and will be a few weeks before I can get it resolved.
My advice to all of you? Check your listings and make sure they are really active from your Google Places dashboard. I'm hoping none of you have experienced this issue but if you have, I've hopefully shed some light on it for you. Oh, and if you haven't claimed your Google Plus Local listings yet... SHAME ON YOU. Get out there and do it right now.
As always, happy renting everyone.