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Is Your Business Closed On Google?

Your business online reputation is something that needs constant attention.  This is one article that gives one example of something to keep in mind.  I read this article on http://techtools4biz.com/ that I found interesting and any business owner could do.  There are many tools to help with a business presence online and we will touch on some of them in later newsletters.

Not too long ago, techtools4biz.com wrote about Google Places as one of theTen Best Google Tools for Small Business.  But recently, scammers have figured out how to use Google Places in harmful ways.

Google Places is the 21st century answer to the Yellow Pagesbecause it lets entrepreneurs list their businesses where consumers are searching—on GoogleGoogle Places listings can include photos, menus, product spec sheets–whatever entrepreneurs want customers to know.   And, of course, there are maps and directions for businesses that serve walk-in customers.

But Google Places differs from the Yellow Pages in a very significant way:  visitors can comment on your business.  They can write reviews, which can be either positive or negative, and they can indicate when a business is no longer in existence.

Google monitors reviews for inappropriate content and removes those that violate the Google Places Content Policy.  But it allows positive as well as negative reviews to stay, as long as they fit the content policy guidelines.

Negative comments can hurt your business, but at least Google offers a way for you as owner to contact the reviewer to discuss the situation and work things out.  More insidious is the feature that allows reviewers to mark a business as closed.

Google offers this feature as a convenience.  Businesses that are defunct rarely bother to remove their listings, so Google allows visitors to do it.  If visitors discover a business that’s no longer in existence, they can rate it “closed” on the Google Places listing.  If enough visitors rate the business closed, Google Places shows it as “permanently closed.”

The problem is:  more and more thriving businesses have begun to show up on Google Places as permanently closed.  Often, the owners of these businesses are completely unaware.

Google isn’t sure why there’s been an increase in businesses being rated closed that really aren’t.  It’s possible that somehow the word has gotten out that it’s an easy thing to do and unscrupulous competitors are using the system to their advantage.  In any event, Google has announced that it will make changes to Google Places so it can’t be so easily used for malicious purposes.  That’s good news for small business owners.

In the meantime, it’s probably a good idea to check your Google Places listing on a regular basis.

For full article: http://techtools4biz.com/2011/09/07/is-your-business-closed-on-google/

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