Last month there were reports of errors in Google Maps listing for Duke Medical Center phone numbers. When an additional report surfaced in Google Maps for Business Owners from NYU Medical Center, I decided to investigate the depth of the issue and see if was isolated to large teaching centers or was more widespread throughout the medical listings.
The report from NYU reported not just multiple and wrong phone numbers but wrong map locations as well. When I found 5 phone numbers listed for a hospital, I spot checked by calling some of the numbers to see where they went and if the answerer had received erroneous calls. The fact that none of the medical facilities with 3, 4 or 5 phone numbers listed had yet to claim the record in the Local Business Center shows: 1)that there is a possibility that they will get cleaned up and 2)that it is a ways off.
Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.Google Map's medical center phone data: Code Red!
I’d think there needs to be a way to get contact information directly from existing websites rather than the directories.
This particular problem seems to afflict this vertical more so than others and I am not really sure why.
I scrolled through the other locations and it didn’t match the 2nd number in the G maps directory information.
I would think that G maps specifically and other similar sources, like Y and MSN Local need to take a step to clean the data–primarily sourcing the information from the website and not any other source.
Of all sources of this ilk, though, Google insertion of maps is clearly seeing more traffic than any other source and is driving more calls off the G maps inserts. That would be a big improvement…and were they to be successful G would be lightyears ahead of other local data sources. According to Bill Slawski’s patent review they are attempting to do this, why so unsuccessfully in the medical arena escapes me.
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Not only were the numbers often times wrong but Google Maps was listing as many as 5 phone numbers for a single facility, few of which went to the central switchboard. Google’s new feature in the Local Business Center, allowing the movement of Map markers, will facilitate some corrections about location but not the problems with phone numbers. 18% of all listings showed 3 or more phone numbers despite low verification rates through the Local Business Center.
In very limited tests, the numbers went to a department rather than the main desk facility listed and noted receiving a fairly large number of wrong number calls.
Another (perhaps more real world) test of the quality of this data would be to see if the single number that Google picks for these records in the Local OneBox is the correct one. There were some records with additional detail providers (BBB, Talking Phone Pages) as well a some records with multiple phone numbers that had no recognized source for details.
Google though, by virtue of their market dominance in search and the inclusion of the local results on the Local Onebox gets more scrutiny than the others.
Perhaps meidcal centers have more to worry about than their Google listing or perhaps because they are somewhat outside of the profit incentives that motivates others to get their records squared away. To Google’s credit the Duke Medical Center situation was resolved rapidly on an individual basis. Most medical centers have difficulty complying with Google’s protocol for record correction as they have multiple mail stops making delivery of the PIN card unlikely and multiple phone lines making a call for verification almost impossible. And if you live in Fargo, ND it appears by Google’s account that there are more medical phone numbers than there are doctors. I think it is safe to assume that any facility with 4 or 5 (and likely 3) numbers listed probably has numbers not for the main facility or that are in error. This allowed a quick assessment of the extraneous phone number issue as all numbers were shown directly below the specific listing rather than in the pop up box. Ultimately, for the public to broadly embrace AND rely on local search, the issue of accuracy needs to be solved.

We have not seen a client suffer negative or poor search rankings because they have inconsistent name, address or phone number listed on business directories. Now, when we first start out with a client, we do a data scrape of all their business listings and make sure they do have consistent name, address and phone number listed on all these directories. And in those cases when we start working with them, we obviously want to go through and clean up their data, and make sure theya€™re listed correctly and consistently across the web.
And if you look at a lot of companies like Yext and Elocal in the states, what they do is theya€™re basically the big data aggregatorsA and they just spit out all these business listings.
So, if you list your business with Yext, whata€™s going to happen is youa€™re going to have a bunch of business listings across the web that you may or may not know about.Now, obviously, if you sign up with Yext youa€™ll know about those listings because theya€™ll send you a report.
But if for example you had a listing on Yellow Pages that had an inconsistent name, address or phone number issue, then a lot of directories take that Yellow Pages information and put it on their website.
Ita€™s one thing that you have to watch out for, is that youa€™re going to see a lot of these directories that you dona€™t even know about that your business is listed on, so thata€™s an issue.Unresponsive DirectoriesThe second issue about these directories, like Ia€™ve already said, a lot of these people started these these directories as the means to generate some side revenue, whether it was trying to generate leads for search engine marketing, or it was trying to generate ad revenue. Well, a lot of these people have started up doing that and then over the years, they decided to go branch off and do something else and theya€™ve put less and less time and energy into that site, therefore, they are no longer manning the support emails, because they probably get a bunch of emails from people asking to update their listings, and theya€™ve just given up because they cana€™t keep up with it, because they cana€™t hire somebody.So, youa€™re going to run into directories like that where, unfortunately, ita€™s going to take three, four, five tries to get your name, address or phone number updated.
So you can find out if youa€™re listed on any of those top directories and go about just focusing on changing those ones, or you could use a service like Yext, which I think for $499 a year will take care of most of this stuff for you.I know a couple of our SEO clients out of the States have used this in the past and they speak highly of it.
Ita€™s a fairly good chunk of money upfront, but if it gets things done fast, then you wona€™t see an impact or a negative impact on your Google my business ranking.So, it all just comes down to making sure that you have all your business listings updated as fast and as quickly as possible.
And, again, there are a couple things you could do, you could use Yext, you could sign up for them, they will probably get it done a lot quicker than somebody like us who offer it at a cheaper rate, where we go in and do it more manually, they will basically just go in and update on one site, their site, and then ita€™ll spit it out to all of their directories.However, there are still a few directories that they wona€™t be able to get ahold of because nobody can get ahold of them because no onea€™s manning the support system there, so you have the Yext option, you have the option of our option, or you could do it on your own. It all just depends on what you want to do, but you want to make sure you get it done quickly, because Google states in their Google My Business guidelines that they want to see a business listed accurately across third-party websites.So, they want to see that your business is listed correctly and accurately across third-party directories, like Yellow Pages, like Yelp, like Foursquare, Yahoo local, and on down the list to these little random directories Ia€™ve already spoken about.

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