Moving? Google Wants You To Close Your Business!

May 21, 2012 • 9:13 am | comments (21) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Maps
 

google maps moving placesI am moving my company in about a month and a half about 5 minutes down the road to a larger space. It is going to be a pain to move but we have no choice, we need a bigger space and the time has come.

About a month ago we covered how Google will be introducing a We've Moved status on businesses that move locations. But when is that coming? Who knows.

Right now, Google is suggesting that if you move your business, you should mark the business as closed and open a brand new business.

Now that I am in the position of having to move, to mark my business as closed - a business that has been around since 1994 and at this one location for over ten years - is a major blow to me. We are not closed, we are just moving a few minutes down the road.

We will have the same phone number, the same web address, the same staff and the same business - we are just changing the office location.

The Google Places Help thread has Google's Vanessa (who is the most active Google rep in any forums) giving me the following advice on what I should do when I move:

If you mark the old listing closed, and create a new one, I can't say your reviews will definitely move to the new listing (I can't make guarantees with Places). You could try just editing the address on the old listing, if you're concerned about the reviews, but you might run in to address issues.

I am sure some of you have been in this position, either for yourself or for clients. What do you recommend?

Forum discussion at Google Places Help.

Image credit to ShutterStock for moving truck

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Comments:

motwguy

05/21/2012 01:40 pm

definate hole in the Google places' strategy.

SEO Specialist

05/21/2012 02:21 pm

I also it very disappointing with the lack of options to update your address, but assume over time they are going to make it easier. It's just important that as many as possible make them aware of the issue now.

Sharon Oakley

05/21/2012 02:44 pm

I wonder why the address is more important than the phone number or even the business name? The name and phone number can be changed (though they may revert if the change isn't made consistently across all the major directories), why can't the address? Why not turn this into an experiment? Closing the old place page and starting over is bad enough, how much worse could things turn out? Try changing the address at localeze, axciom, inforgroup, etc a few weeks ahead of the move, and then try changing the address in the google places dashboard. I've been looking for a business to try this on, but everyone I know is staying put or adding locations rather than moving.

recommendation

05/21/2012 02:48 pm

First of all I would recommend not to misrepresent facts. "to mark my business as closed" and "mark the old listing closed" are not the same. You'll definitely loose some readers doing this.

Nyagoslav Zhekov

05/21/2012 03:31 pm

At SMX West I was asked the same question during the Q&A part of our session, and I answered the same thing you mention in this article. However, I said this is not what I suggest. This is what Google says... What I say is, do this: http://www.searchenginepeople.com/blog/timeline-bussiness-address-updates.html

Barry Schwartz

05/21/2012 03:35 pm

It is essentially the feeling expressed by all business owners on this topic. It represents the forum discussion properly.

Kate Huebler

05/21/2012 03:45 pm

Maybe Google says that, but I would suggest changing the address within the same listing. It's not actually closing. Plus, if you have reviews there you will lose them. If people click that page before the one with the new business, you could lose potential customers who think you've gone out of business. Exactly what "recommendation" said.

Kate Huebler

05/21/2012 03:46 pm

Agreed.

Barry Schwartz

05/21/2012 03:50 pm

Where do I see that? At google.com/placed and edit business?

Linda Buquet

05/21/2012 03:51 pm

Here's the deal. If you mark your listing as closed, as you know you get that nasty "this place is permanently closed" marker big and bold on your listing, right? How many times do you see Google MERGE 2 listings with the same name and phone #? It happens quite often, especially if still in same city. So the risk you run marking the old one closed too is that if it merges with your new location, it will look like your new location is permanently closed as well. We’ve had that problem come up on the forum as well. It can be a bear to get it untangled too. The reason Vanessa suggests closing the old one to begin with is that G just does not handle moves well and will keep changing your address back, unless you change all your citations which is a bear and you'll never get them all changed. So either way you risk problems, just because the G algo chokes on moves. Barry, I assume you don't have customers look you up online and just walk in very often. If this was a store, I'd be torn and possibly give different advice. But in your case, if I were you, knowing all I know, I would edit the listing. Try to clean up citations. Realize the address may change on you and if it does, you'll just need to use the troubleshooter to get it fixed. My 2 cents. Linda

Alec Rippberger

05/21/2012 03:51 pm

We recently moved into a new office space at the beginning of May. I simply requested an update to our Places page. About 2 weeks later the address was updated and we retained all of our reviews. I haven't looked too far into how this change may have affected our SERP placement for local results yet, but I'm guessing our new central location will help bring in traffic.

Hurtin' In DC

05/21/2012 03:55 pm

It hurt me, moving about 30 miles away in the same metropolitan area - Washington DC. I changed my address on every page on my site and my business listing, and my local results went into the toilet. Now I'm experimenting with my meta data to see if I can revive local SERPs for my business.

Barry Schwartz

05/21/2012 03:59 pm

Thanks Linda - yea, I can risk it so I will edit the listing and do some detailed search commands to try to update all my citations.

Linda Buquet

05/21/2012 04:07 pm

Oops meant to add that would be my advice IF Google does not come up with something better by then, like a new sign that says "This business has moved" which I've pushed for, but don't know when that option will be available.

Barry Schwartz

05/21/2012 04:08 pm

:) No ETA.

Roger Williams

05/22/2012 12:21 am

be ready for pain, but congrats on expanding!

Farfel

05/22/2012 02:10 pm

Doesn't this beat all? Local business (and SEO!) is really at the heart of delivering a great mobile user experience. Its the epicenter of everything Google has said they have worked for over the course of time: search, Android, phones and they literally can't be bothered to put some effort into the monumentally %#$@% mess that is Places for business people who are sincere in their desire to reach out to consumers via the Web?! Unbelievable. This is not reinventing the wheel. This is not rocket science and sending a man to Mars. This is an entirely achievable effort that wouldn't and shouldn't even be a blip on the resources radar to a company like Google. They simply don't give a damn. Barry your other story is about TRUST and Google: is it any wonder that trust in Google sucks?

Dave

05/25/2012 07:56 pm

Very interesting set of discussions. Long before I did seo and specifically focused on local I was a commercial real estate broker. Mostly I represented tenants, such as you, Barry, who needed to relocate, often for reasons like yours. Businesses change in size over time, specifically office tenants. I did all that long before Google Places ever came into existence. Relocating in those days meant changing your stationery, contacting the hard copy yellow pages for the next print cycle, and a myriad of other things. What it didn't contemplate was that there currently is a sort of monopolistic source for information about your business location and phone number (google and its presentation of Universal Results from G Places ...and the process to relocate and adjust that information isn't tied down and is subject to potential problems. The simple fact that two Places TC's, Linda and Nyagoslav, that see huge volumes of problems as volunteers essentially disagreed with the Google "House" response" suggests, serious systemic issues. Its too bad. Among other things it appears that Google Places simply doesn't have any level of accountability to the outside world. It has very complex and buggy algos connected to its index, its attacked by spammers, that further complicates issues, I don't think it puts enough engineering resources into addressing these issues. And its pretty much running independently of any outside influences other than the sporadic embarrassments when a problem hits the press. I had seen Vanessa's suggestions when a business relocates. I just don't know, how that will impact an smb. If the smb doesn't rely on Local search visibility for leads...then I'd go with it. But if the business does rely on high visibility in the local region for business then its like rolling dice. Real dilemma. Good luck with the move and that the places info gets transferred. In the meantime, if you have a lot of reviews in google I'd copy all of them, copy anything else on the current places record that could be lost, including pictures, videos, anything. Most of all good luck. I do have one bit of advice. Most of it is for google and not for the smb. It relates to the possible issues with a duplicate record caused down the road. It relates to advice given by Linda and Nyagoslav, both of whom suggested you focus on all your past citations...and you are prepared to do that. Step One: Google should have a "We are going to move to a new location" report option. The report should allow you to enter all your new information. You should additionally provide your google places CID. (which is available on the link button on the upper right hand side of your places page. Google will probably require to do some serious checking on the appropriateness of this request. After all malicious spammers are constantly screwing up the Places data base. Step 3. Frankly, I know this from direct past experience, and have seen this applied fairly recently. Google can and should somehow mark up the existing citations in the cluster for your record. Essentially they should at the very least, take the existing inventory of citations and mark them in a way that the data cannot generate a duplicate record. While google never tells us what they do, from experience I am sure they can mark web documents in a way that will prevent the citation type information from creating duplicate records. Step 5. Linda and Nyagoslav basically suggested different methods to try and identify all the citations that carry your current NAP info. The current process leaves it up to the smb to recontact all these sources and try and effect changes. Regardless of everything you do there are 3rd party websites with data on your current NAP that won't adjust the data. That is some of the data that can cause a duplicate record 5th step: If there is data that creates misinformation google should take the action to do a "hand fix" or immediate fix of the bad or old data. Google can do this. They have done it on accounts I've referenced in the past. They might have done that in the process of recently cleaning the Guggenheim places record, an issue you referenced earlier Barry. I say all that because prior to the internal changes in the way the google places forum works, I used to direct identify problem causing web documents that were creating bad information and I'd see the fixes...sometimes immediately. I'm pretty sure if Google premarked all the documents in the existing business cluster in a way that prevented them from creating a duplicate record, a lot of problems would be solved. They might be marking them on the data itself or they might be directing the premarked data into a funky record that never shows in normal search. In any cases those are suggestions. Good luck. May the non dupe gods be with you.

armourinsurance

05/06/2013 03:24 pm

DO NOT CLOSE YOUR LISTING. Google Places is totally disconnected with the rest of Google. I would suspect that you will never get your reviews moved over plus your business will appear to be closed to any customer looking you up in Google. I've moved two locations in places and am about to move a 3rd. Each time we've merely edited the address. The first time, there was a major screw up and my head office appeared to be in the middle of the field for 4 or 5 months, while I pleaded with Google to fix. The second time it worked perfectly. No telling what will happen the third time, but the advice you received to close your business is bad advice indeed!

Reuben Samuel

11/25/2013 03:46 am

My school/studio called Mile High Sounds ended up merging with 7-Eleven, and I've tried several times to have it changed (title) including manual verification via postage to my office address (3 times!) Give it a go... Google: mile high sounds malaysia and see what turns up. I'm at wit's end! Any advice would be appreciated.

Trystan Matthews

06/07/2014 06:17 pm

I just moved my business from Portland, OR to to New York, NY... really want to make sure I don't lose my google reviews when updating the address. Having a hard time finding an answer to this issue. Has anyone else done this successfully?

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