Posted on April 17, 2012 by Webfor By Jason Knapfel One of the biggest challenges facing businesses in their online marketing efforts is optimizing their local listings. A few weeks back we discussed how to rank higher in Google Places and the general importance of local listings to a business. Many problems persist that negatively affect rankings, often at no fault of the business or their professional SEO company. Implied Intelligence, a business database developer, recently tested the accuracy and completeness of the business listings data on some of the larger local search sites. What they found may astound some, but confirms the bitter frustrations of many an SEO: local listing sites often provide inaccurate business data. Maybe the most troubling find was that Google only placed third when all the criteria was considered together. When the leader in online search does not provide the most accurate and thorough data – Superpages and Yellowpages ranked higher – Houston, we have a problem. One can only hope that Google will find a way to provide the data accuracy consumers and business owners deserve. In the meantime, let’s take a look at seven common problems businesses are having with their Google Places listings. 1. A business listing disappears! While you may need to wait 24 hours to file a missing person report, if your business listing disappears from Google Places, act immediately by reporting the problem to Google. 2. A business name keeps changing and it won’t let me change it back. Is there a different business that once existed in your location? In most cases, of course this is true. Well, that business may still be listed in a directory that Google draws data from. Happy hunting! 3. Someone hijacked the listing! It’s possible that a third party will claim your business listing. You can hunt them down and shoot them like the dog they are… or take the more patient (and legal) route of communicating with Google’s support staff. 4. Wrong phone number. Google listings are built from multiple sources of information, including third-party data. If you have an old phone number, it may end up getting pulled into your listing instead of your current one. 5. Incorrect address. Read number four. 6. Two listings merged into one. Do you have a business that has multiple locations, particularly ones with slightly (or not so slightly) different business roles? Well, you may end up the victim of the Internet version of nuclear fusion. That is, Google decides that your two businesses are similar enough, so hey, why not join them in heavenly matrimony. Merged listings not only make it difficult for a business’s clients to find them, it potentially hurts both entities in search rankings. 7. Duplicate listing keeps popping up. It can happen for a number of reasons, including inconsistencies in your business name, address, or phone number on other directories. Getting consistent, thorough and accurate information on Google Places and other citation websites is a frustrating battle, but one that must be won if you are to get the most out of your local listings. Fight the good fight. For more information on a problem you may be experiencing, go to the Google Places Support page for correcting your local business listing.