Have you ever searched for a restaurant or some other business you needed to contact, only to find out the numbers listed for them are grossly inaccurate?
If you are familiar with that type of frustration and wish there was a way to make sure it happened to you less often, Google has just granted your wish! It's now possible for users to report inaccurate business numbers through Google Local.
False listings hurt businesses and the public alike
Though the general public finds it very irritating and troublesome when the phone number for a business listed online isn't accurate and they have to search for the correct number, it isn't just the consumer that's hurt by inaccurate listings.
When people can't find the number for a business they want to contact, they usually don't bother taking the time to find the correct one; instead, they find a similar business whose correct number is readily available.
When someone searches a business, Google usually furnishes results based on information provided by the company's website or phonebook listing, but too often this results in an out-of-date or wrong number. In order to combat this listing inaccuracy issue, Google is now making it possible for users to report problems with a listing themselves through their mobile phone.
How reporting inaccurate numbers works
When people search a business on Google Local or Maps and call a local contact number they find using the application, a prompt will appear in the browser window once the call is competed.
The prompt is a yellow box that will ask if the number you just called was accurate. You select "yes" or "no" and return to whatever you were doing before you made the call.
Often, businesses have difficulty making sure their numbers are updated across all sources, especially online where search engine results are often taken from website or phonebook listings at a given time and are not updated when the business updates its original listings.
In turn, these inaccuracies result in only wrong numbers being listed online -- or in a variety of numbers listed in various locations on the web.
The ability to report wrong numbers makes it possible for the search engine to know when the results are no longer accurate so they can be updated accordingly. Internet marketing is often a key aspect of business promotion, so it's vital that a company's information online is as up to date as possible.
Though reporting inaccurate listings through Google Local seems like a great idea, a few problems might emerge. It isn't clear how and or even whether companies will be notified if their listings are found to be inaccurate; and it's unclear if Google will eventually remove inaccurate listings outright.
In order for the reporting to be effective, Google needs to have a system in place for making sure it isn't possible for people to use false reports to have a company's number removed without cause, as well as a way of getting the listings updated. Let's hope that Google is prepared to deal with these issues (or is looking into doing so) and just hasn't made the information public as of yet.
It appears that Google may have found a way to mitigate the issues caused by inaccurate listings without having to employ staff to test each number. Though the scope of the process for reporting incorrect numbers is limited to mobile devices at the moment, it's clear that the program will likely be rolled out on a larger scale if it's successful.
The hope is that Google will manages to discourage the types of abuses that are possible in this new system and makes inaccurate listings a thing of the past.