What do you do when Google “Flags” your content in their Local Business Center? Recently, I had the opportunity to find out first hand how to fix this.In May Google decided to ignore the listing that I had created through the Local Business Center and instead substitute my listing with information that I suspect came from my Better Business Bureau listing. The main way that I was able to discern this was that the BBB listing had an old phone number which was now the only phone number for my business that was showing up in Google Maps, and Google listed the BBB as one of the pages related to my site.
Since I had been in the top 3 of the 10 pack for several keywords and after the substitution had fallen out completely I got busy working to correct the situation and that’s where it went from bad to worse. After I successfully claimed the listing and changed the number I had to do some editing. The new listing had no categories, no description etc.
To my surprise, after filling all of the information out I returned to the dashboard to see this:
I’ve created a lot of listings for clients and my own businesses and never run across this before, but my instinct was to adopt a wait and see attitude. Since I knew there wasn’t anything wrong with the listing I figured it was in some sort of queue at Google that a human would come around and check it and see there wasn’t anything wrong with it and would lift the flagged status. When a few days had gone by and there had been no change I started looking to see who else had, had this problem. Not surprisingly, I found that Mike Blumenthal had reported on the problem based on a post in the Google Support forums.
The solution posits that the listing has banned words and that this causes the problem and that removing these corrects the problem. Mike had a slightly different theory. He thought that listings which got flagged might be running into an issue with too many characters in a certain field as this has been a known problem. It turns out the problem may be neither.
I would suggest that the problem is a bug in the code. That Google has not commented on it because they don’t know where in the code the bug is coming from and they therefore can’t fix it. Non programmers find it hard to believe that this kind of thing can occur but ask a programmer, it happens all the time.
So how did I come to my conclusion? I tried removing the majority of the text in the description of my listing leaving just the line “We’re a small business search engine marketing company.” I returned to the dashboard to a changed notice. My listing was no longer flagged it was now awaiting an update. I should mention at this point that even before I removed anything from the description I was under the allowed 200 characters having used only 189, so it wasn’t a problem of too many characters in this field.
The next thing I did leads me to my theory that this is a bug which Google may know exists but hasn’t been able to find. I put the exact same text that had originally been there back in and submitted the listing yet again. And the result.
My recommendation is that you try removing all but a line of your description. Then, assuming you were happy with your listing as it was you put your original text back and submit again.