Google has recently given searches the option to report whether or not a business’s phone number is correct immediately after calling a business from their Google map or local listing. Anyone that’s ever had problems contacting a business knows how further frustrating it is to finally find the information only to reach a dead or wrong phone number. Wrong numbers simultaneously hurt consumers and business owners alike; they lead to lost customers and ultimately leave the consumer’s needs unfulfilled, sending them elsewhere to satisfy their demands. On Google local listings and maps results you can now report an incorrect phone number right after making a call via a new prompt that shows up when the call is complete.
So far, the prompt is only visible on local listings, and is only available when making a phone call from a mobile device. Once you have made the call, return to your browser window where the search was made – a small yellow box will ask you if the number you just called was correct. Pay it forward by letting Google know if the phone number is accurate and working.
So what’s so great about reporting wrong phone numbers? Running a business can be hectic, and without an internet marketing company owners may not always be able to keep their information updated and correct. Google has given the consumer the chance to help fellow potential customers as well as business owners, by letting them report false information in a quick and simple way. This will undoubtedly cut down the amount of wrong phone number listings out there, making life easier for consumers and business owners alike. From a local internet marketing perspective, the option to report an incorrect phone number sounds brilliant. Unfortunately, not all internet marketing companies and SEO teams play by the rules. This new pop-up could be the next “anonymous reviewer” nightmare on Google’s local listings.
The question is, will Google notify the business owner when a customer reports that number as inactive or inaccurate? Further, what options will Google provide the business owner to fix the problem if someone reports it? Will Google change the phone number themselves based on other listing information? Will Google pull the business profile from local listing results if the phone number is reported as incorrect? Does Google ask this question for both verified and non-verified phone numbers? What if a phone’s reception is bad and not the phone number itself; will Google punish businesses because their potential customers have crappy cell phone coverage?
There are a myriad of possible answers to these questions, but as of yet Google has not divulged this information. With competition running high for local listings, and the removal of all but the highest ranking local businesses on local search recently, the air is ripe for competitor sabotage. It will be interesting to see what other new features the new Google+ Local listings will test and integrate in the coming months. Especially which other user-based information they will use to rank the quality of local listings and to what weight this information will carry.