It's that time again. This Daily Golden Nugget is about Google Places and it might be the 5th time we've covered the topic now, and therefore time to play our jWAG Google Places Drinking Game... Take a drink and let's move on.
So far, in 2011 we've been covering more mundane aspects of search engine optimization. Everything we've reported on we either had firsthand experience with, or it was reported to you directly from a well established Google training video.
We've not reported on new SEO news or events simply because all SEO "breaking news" is nothing more than hearsay and speculation. Until there is real proof of something interesting, we don't want to give you recommendations or directions.
In January 2011, Google added a very large filter to their SERP results in order to fight the millions of websites of garbage spam that clutter up our daily lives. This filter has become known as the "Farmer's Update" and it has nullified many businesses and Black Hat SEO strategies that were making many people a lot of money.
Google created this filter after enough complaining by users, news agencies, and other search engines that already has such filtering.
With the rollout of this massive spam filtering, Google also implemented a few other filtering methods that are not well publicized, and we only realized it over the weekend.
At first we thought it might be an April Fool's joke from Google, but digging enough we realized it was a new feature within Google Places.
Up until the first week of March 2011, if you wanted to create a new business listing on Google Places, Google Maps, or Google Local Business Center it was as easy as typing in your phone number and address and clicking the Submit button. Instantly, Google would call the phone number you gave them and tell you a 5 digit PIN to confirm your identity.
That's not the case any more. Google Places was also getting filled with fraudulent business listings that used free phone services or cell phone numbers. The new Google Places terms of service stipulate that you need to have a physical location in order to have an online listing. No physical location? Then no listing; simple as that.
Previously, we told you that you should simply go out and set up your Places account. Within 30 minutes you would have it done. The new policy now requires a post card verification for all brand new listings and existing listings that Google deems as potentially bogus.
The post cards take up to 3 weeks to arrive at the address you entered.
As we've said before, you should claim your Google Places listing and fill in as much information as possible. Now the process is extra long with the potential to lose or accidentally dismiss the Google mail as junk mail.
Go take care of this now; or at least start the process. It's very important. Do it.