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Getting Business Info Changed on Google a Difficult Task

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As Google has gotten increasingly more sophisticated about delivering search results to specific users, it has incorporated tools that make local searches easier. In fact, Google prefers to provide local searches. No doubt it is less of a database strain, but more importantly it targets very specific data to users, which means its advertisers can do the same.

But as Google does add more local listings and becomes the default phone book of the modern era (phone books were big books with phone numbers, addresses and ads in them if you don't remember, kids), there are bound to be complications. One of the most common is when inaccurate information is stored in a local listing. It's nearly impossible to get it changed.

My company has built and maintained websites for nearly 12 years and I can tell you first hand, getting Google to fix issues with a listing is a huge pain. It used to be that Google simply grabbed information from your website by searching it. Now, it still does that but information is aggregated to display local listings on Google Maps and when people in Houston search for car repair, for example. While it might improve results for the searcher, it complicates the life of businesses being searched.

The good news is that Google does allow businesses to take control over their local listings. Once verified, a user can change quite a few things including addresses, images and the like. But, while items like phone numbers can be changed easily, they are often changed back within a month if they are still listed elsewhere.

Additionally, Google shows random pages from your website listed underneath your search listing. Convenient pages like the "contact" page are helpful, but some are temporary pages or news items that can linger for weeks and months. Google allows you to remove them, but doesn't let you choose what should go in their place so one news story might be replaced by another and another. You get the idea.

If things like these were not frustrating enough, there is the added quandary of what to do when you can't get it fixed. Google support is, like far too many sectors of the tech industry, terribly lacking.

And while you might think you shouldn't care because, well, businesses just have to deal with it. The same problems can occur for individuals. Links relating to your name can have dire consequences when a potential employer or someone doing a background check searches for you.

Google is a modern marvel of search technology, but it has a long way to go to improve on things that would seem obvious to most.

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

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