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This article is an interesting one discussing important factors in Google's Local search. It explains how comments/reviews from other pages can show up in your Google Places profile. I think it underlines the importance of setting up Google Alerts for your company name, at the least.

Google Local has started being one of our biggest source of leads. Once we achieved the "Favorite Place" label from Google it increased the contacts we are getting via the web dramatically.
 

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Great, one more thing to learn. Very interesting article & blog, you could spend a lot of time there.

I just had a maps learning "opportunity" to share. I have always been on the front page of maps, so I didn't pay it much attention. Last fall I noticed we were dropping down the list and were buried in the last pages, No negative comments, whats going on?

As I learned about maps rankings, I learned that separate numbers and addresses are a Negative and will cause lower rankings. I have a pay per call account with ATT Yellowpages- they publish in their phone book their number which is forwarded to me. Somehow this number gets picked up by Google Maps and is showing a different phone and address for my company- the only thing I could find to rank me lower.

News to ATT! They claim not to know how this number made it to the internet, so now my job is to build back my ranking.

Bottom line- do a map search with your company name, you may find some surprises.
 

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News to ATT! They claim not to know how this number made it to the internet, so now my job is to build back my ranking.

Bottom line- do a map search with your company name, you may find some surprises.
The way numbers in the book make it to the internet is through Acxiom, a third-party business directory data provider.

They scoop up business contact info from public telephone directories (eg the pages), telephone companies, etc and resell this data to Google Local, Yahoo Local, Bing Local, and so on. That's how google/yahoo/bing have business listings show up in local search for businesses that never claimed their listing in the first place.

If the number you have in the book (and thus the number in Axiom, a very authoritative source for Google) differs from the number you have on your claimed listing, this will screw things up and google local will drop you in their place rank.

Here is a nice discussion of this issue at SearchEngineLand on why you should Be Wary of Call Tracking Numbers in Local Search


Citations and call-tracking numbers don’t mix

To maximize your rankings on Google Maps, Yahoo Local, and Bing Local, your business’s Name, Address and Phone number (“NAP,” to borrow a Localeze-inspired acronym) should broadcast the same rock-solid signal on every platform. Think of them as your business’s thumbprint. As Gib Olander of Localeze says, they are “not the place for advertising.”


Remember, as Brownbook’s Marc Lyne pointed out, that “you don’t own your business information.” For instance, what happens if you give your business a unique tracking phone number at a directory that Acxiom happens to spider for its own index? That number is now considered authoritative by Acxiom, and gets pushed out to every partner that’s leasing Acxiom’s data. Meanwhile, infoUSA and Localeze probably still have your main line. You now have two different thumbprints.


In a perfect world, Google, Yahoo, and Bing would be smart enough to see that the business name and address information matches, even though the phone numbers differ. They’d “count” all of them as citations for the same business, but continue to display the Local number you’ve given them in the Local Business Center. But given some of the issues with Google’s merging algorithm, do you really want to take that chance?


Other possible scenarios include duplication, which will split your “citation equity” across multiple listings and confuse customers about how they should actually contact you. This is especially possible if Google sees the same tracking numbers on multiple portals, as in the Acxiom scenario I described above.


And what happens if you want to cancel your contract with the provider through whom you’re running the tracking number? It’ll take months to get a new phone number flowing through the Local search ecosystem, even starting right at the top with the major data providers.
Maintaining absolute consistency with your business information is the key to a successful long-term Local SEO strategy.
 
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