We’ve got rats. There I said it. I opened up the door to my furnace and found a scattering of crusty little rat droppings. And to make matters worse I think the rats have mites as I woke up this morning with a big bite taken out of my posterior (TMI?). So who you gonna call?

I fired up my trusty browser and entered “pest control pleasanton, ca” into a search box, found A Premier Rodent Company and clicked on their Google Place Page to peruse what people have said about them. Here’s what showed up:

Over the past few days I have been the recipient of an email exchange amongst several local SEOs and the amount of mismatched data surfaced from a merely a handful of people has been staggering. I don’t underestimate the level of difficulty in what Google is trying to do with Places and I am sure they are working on fixing these pesky issues, but for now it is just not a reliable tool for local service decision making.

And so I find myself actually opening a print yellow pages for the first time in years!

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24 Response Comments

  • Dallas SEO Consultant - Mike Stewart  February 21, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    Looks like Google might want to do some consumer focus groups and usability testing on Google Places. I noticed the same things as far as links that serve no purpose and reviews that seem to be 100% manisfested from the posterior of the business owner.

    Although, I don’t really see how using the yellow pages provides more than a headline, brand and image information, bullet points, and a call to action. How does a YP ad help you make a more informed decision.

    Based on Dick Larkin’s response he insinuates that you would have a better or faster decision from the phone book, this is just not so. You can’t put enough credibility, reliability, and question answers on a sheet of paper vs a site.

    Have you tried clicking into the businesses website? Why doesn’t Google offer a section for site previews inside of Places Pages? I recall SuperPages doing this and it being well received by users…. the folks that search engines should be focusing on.

    The citations are needed, but they really do clutter up the decision making process.

    For Christ sake… where are the darn headlines?

  • Andrew Shotland  February 21, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    I happened to have a SuperPages directory so I went with the advertiser who promoted the SuperGuarantee – other than that you are correct – it would have been impossible to decide on who to call based on anything other than a name and an address.

  • Dallas SEO Consultant - Mike Stewart  February 21, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    Be sure to read the fine print on that “ServiceMagic Service Guarantee” program that SuperPages copied from IAC.

    lol. The T’s and C’s pretty much make the guarantee a gimmick at best.

  • Dallas SEO Consultant - Mike Stewart  February 21, 2011 at 1:47 pm


    Previously posted on my rant site:
    So, what is Idearc’s solution to creating a brand advantage and distinguishing the product from competition this year? The SUPERGUARANTEE program – A $500 reimbursement for Labor on Services Rendered by participating advertisers. When you actually take the time to read the terms and conditions of the product (revised July 30th 2009) it is very clear that Idearc has no intent on being fully transparent. It is more of a marketing gimmick than a real Guarantee. Why you may ask? Here are a few things that you may want to be aware of before getting on board with the FUSS: source———> http://www.idearcmedia.com/CammsServlet?assetid=10236

    Subcontracted services are not eligible for the SuperGuarantee program – “Subcontracted Services Excluded”
    You must enter a written contract with service provider prior to services being rendered. Signed by both parties. Labor needs to be itemized
    To be eligible for the SuperGuarantee you must register at: http://www.superguarantee.com before the service begins or is scheduled to begin
    Submited claims for the SuperGuarantee must be filed within 30 days of service completion and no later than 90 days from registration date.
    SuperGuarantee may ask you to obtain & provide to us 2 written estimates of the labor costs to correct the problem described in your claim
    and the ones that completely will drive any consumer insane:

    it may take up to six weeks from the time you submit your claim & all required documentation to complete resolution or payment of your claim
    Idearc reserves the right to determine that your claim is valid with ” sole discretion”
    Well, if politicians and lawmakers actually took the time to read the bill before voting on laws and issues in Washington we consumers would have more money to spend today. So, my warning to advertisers and consumers is be aware of the details of the program prior to participating. I personally believe that Idearc is going the right direction with the SuperGuarantee. It is a step forward to differentiate the product from those of its competitors. The fuss has merit, but just like anything else with corporate marketing, it manages to lose FUSS after reading the fine print.

  • Andrew Shotland  February 21, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    Agreed that having to sign up before the work is done is lame but I missed the ServiceMagic connection

  • Dallas SEO Consultant - Mike Stewart  February 21, 2011 at 2:14 pm


    it is the program that SuperMedia copied to produce the SuperGuarantee! Briggs Ferguson from CitySearch ran SuperPages. He copied it from his previous employer. Just like SuperMedia’s so called Reputation Management tool by Yext.

    They are far from innovative.

    Hey, I want to share something with you that I think is very forward thinking. Imagine managing clients in a collaborative cloud environment that takes into account fragmentation and disorganization!?

  • Jeffrey magner  February 22, 2011 at 6:58 am

    The beginning of a resurgence for Yellow Pages advertising! For only ~ $120 per month you can have 2 lines of black text in our Yellow Bricks that we deposit on the doorsteps of hundreds of thousands of homes whether they want them or not – 8% of which sit empty and in foreclosure. Then we will place your business in a dozen or so “powerful online directories” which will be permanently listed and entirely uneditable so please do not change your address or telephone number or you will be in for a long-term Google Places nightmare. Oh….we will make you sign a contract and automatically debit your checking account, even if you attempt to cancel the contract because it is not generating any new customers for you. As an added bonus we will hound you for another 12 month contract when this contract expires!

  • Lauren R  February 22, 2011 at 7:51 am

    I am still amazed that Places snippets are grabbing only bad descriptive words from these 3rd party review sites. I have a client that has 14 reviews on Citysearch, and Google chooses to show the only bad one from 2005 versus any of the 13 more recent ones in the Places page snippet. In what world, does a 2005 review help any user? But sure enough because the word “rude” was used, Google likes descriptive words and its algorithm is grabbing only the reviews with these descriptive keywords. Too many old reviews from 5 years ago (but with newer ones available from the same review source) are grabbed as snippets instead simply because of having the words “awful”, “horrible”, “rude”, “noisy” in them. Google needs to only show recent reviews in snippets. I am not asking for one from guest that checked out this morning, tho in theory that is possible, but at least one from 2010 would be preferable to a 2005 review!

  • Mike Stewart  February 22, 2011 at 8:01 am


    This is the moment that SEO’s begin gaming the system because Google is doing a piss-poor job of giving users what they want.

    Atleast you know what is required of a review to gain exposure as a snippet from Google.

  • Lauren R  February 22, 2011 at 8:17 am

    Yes. “I had an awful good time at ABC Hotel. It was crowded and noisy in the lobby, but whisper quiet in my hotel room. My room also had a 50 inch flatscreen tv with over 400 channels, but nothing was on TV! Just horrible.. haha… thank goodness for Full House reruns at 3 am. gotta love that little girl that always says “how rude!”. Awfully great hotel, would stay again. cheers.”

  • Mike Stewart  February 22, 2011 at 8:20 am

    Bingo… think of it like “negative keyword insertion”

  • Randy Pickard  February 22, 2011 at 9:15 am

    I have not used the print yellow pages in years, but in hindsight have to admit that the results were usually pretty good. A business that was paying the big bucks for a display ad was typically fairly legitimate. Getting to the top was not influenced by how many of your friends you could get to write favorable reviews.

  • Andrew Shotland  February 22, 2011 at 11:31 am

    Lauren R/Mike – Too bad you didn’t include a hotel name, address & phone number. This post could be showing up as a snippet on GOOG Places in no time.

    Randy – Both print & web have their strengths and weaknesses. The reason why there is so much activity in local marketing is because it’s hard to figure out the right mix that gets the best ROI.

  • Tim Evans  February 22, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    As smart as Google is, it does amaze me when they mis-match info because you then start to realize how complicated local search citations really are. If they can’t perfect it, no one can…

  • Elisa  March 1, 2011 at 11:47 am

    “I keep searching for the answers…but I never seem to find what I’m looking for…” (Whitesnake)

    I’ve been grappling with the Google Places mis-match issue for a couple client companies for the past month. And it’s been a monster of a tangled ball of yarn.

    I’ve not been pleased with the valuable time that has been taken with trying to update and correct bad local listings. Did find some “motherships” that power a bunch of secondary directories. These databases run their engines on impulse under the radar for the most part. The various flavors of business directory listings’ network seems to behave similar to a backdoor trojan that once finding an address, dials up and invites in another trojan dropper, who in turn drops umpteen replicas of itself in random locations throughout your system, who in turn start beaming out all your personal information to scanners who pick it up and keep it on another system, etc etc ad nauseum ad infinitum.


    One listing database that I call a mothership is Axciom, another infoUSA (here in the US and Canada). Axciom was difficult to negotiate because the business listing manager for that main database lurks in a dark, quiet corner on its own domain. You can fix a bunch of local listings by fixing your Axciom listing here: https://www.mybusinesslistingmanager.com/

    Once I found it, the customer service was very helpful in finding all the wacko wrong listings, claiming them, and then I could correct them or delete them. I’m sure it takes a while for the rest of the internet to catch up with the changes, so I’m giving it some time.

    While we all wish we could just instantly fix these interdependent/interactive data-sharing schemes, I urge everyone to take a deep breathe and think about what a single global database set would mean. The unintended consequences, so to speak…

    Google makes free to draw on anything it indexes. So your business information might show up from angieslist.com or dexknows.com or wherevah. But to gain control and management over those listings, hence what material is available to Google’s little crawly McButt, can be a bit trickier.

    I can’t claim to have figured it all out yet. However, I think Superpages.com acts as a similar big mothership database of business info, and its cpanel-like management site is Supermedia.com. They have a nifty tool built in that scans for all your business listings so you can manage things all in one place. Check it out.

    Acxiom has something like that too, but again, getting “access” is hard to figure out. If anyone does, let me know. The sign in page for the management system is MyRepMan.com but you can’t create an account from there. Created to NOT be user friendly, friends.

    After all of the tracing and trouble shooting I’ve done to find these, I’m less impressed with Google as “king of search”. These massive databases being compiled are more impressive, to the point of scary impressive. They make Google dance like a puppet on a string.

    But remember, it’s your domain/business/personal contact information, and who can compile the most massive and comprehensive and complete mailing list that determines who is going to be King of the Mountain.

    I have a can of Spam I’ve kept as a pet for over 10 years now. I will award to the King of the Mountain.

  • Steve Ross  September 22, 2011 at 8:35 pm

    It seems like Google pulls reviews from so many places that it is tough to keep it straight. More frustrating is how Google just keeps throwing more and more stuff in there to distract from the organic results. It is like you have purposefully search through the garbage to see the organic stuff. Also…how about how Google just barely shades Adwords differnetly now?

  • Steve Ross  September 23, 2011 at 6:28 am

    One more thing…Another frustrating thing with Google Places is how hard it is it get them to verify a listing. They almost never send the postcards.

  • Steve Ross  October 17, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    Sorry…as a follow up to my last comment…I think that Google talks out of both sides of their mouths on most issues…It is almost easier to get a local listing on a fraudulent approach than it is by their rules.

  • Steve Ross  October 17, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    Just looking at your article again…That SERP is all over the place…Google’s Local/Places page organization is a joke. I like how you pointed out where in one instance the co looked good and the other they looked bad. (Now that won’t cause any problems would it??? 🙂

  • Thomas Ballantyne  September 30, 2014 at 1:12 pm

    Officially as a pest control guy, I declare google places or google my business now needs less pest control. There are far too many pest control companies already there!

    Shocked that you actually used the yellow pages. Most people are don’t get that desperate these days… or even back in 2011.

    But pretty crazy how far google places has come in the past few years. Really, looking at those images of what google places used to be …. just seems so foreign now. They’ve done a pretty good job cleaning up this mess.

  • Andrew Shotland  September 30, 2014 at 8:02 pm

    An oldie but a goodie Thomas. Guess my blog needs some pest control these days…

    Curious what query led you to this post?

  • Thomas Ballantyne  October 1, 2014 at 5:18 pm

    “Pest Control SEO” of all things. You were actually on the 2nd page. …I am finding more and more that having “exact keyword phrase” on a page is loosing value. I remember back when seeing the number of search results for “Exact Keyword Phrase” was considered an indicator of how competitive a phrase was. Looks like keyword stuffing has really lost its value.

  • Thomas Ballantyne  October 1, 2014 at 5:21 pm

    …I wonder what will happen now that “Pest Control SEO” now shows up on this page… in the comments… twice now. Will it help or hurt?