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What!?! That’s My Competitor in My Google Places Listing! Or, How to Change the Street View Image in a Google Places Listing
Imagine that you are diligent about maintaining a good quality Google Places listing for your business, complete with video, images, accurate information, monthly specials and discounts, even an experimental Tag. Imagine that you’ve ranked well for over a year now in Google Places and that your listing generates good leads to your business. Now imagine that you wake up one morning to see that your Google Places Page features a street view image that shows a competitor. For Convoy Auto Repair in San Diego, CA, this is exactly what happened as the screen shot below shows.
As it turns out it’s actually not a photograph of their competitor, but a street view photograph that just happens to include another business’ [visibly branded] van. Technically, the image is of Convoy’s physical location, but there’s the issue of this [!#!?!#] van in the way. Not good.
So, how to fix this? We can’t upload the street-view image (like the other business photographs and video). In addition, Google doesn’t pull this image from another website (like it does other information such as reviews, listings, images, etc.). We really have no control over this image.
Or do we?
Before going further, it’s worth explaining that Convoy Auto Repair is located in a strip mall with multiple auto-related businesses. So while the Google street view image is of the strip mall where Convoy is located, it’s not of Convoy directly. Looking at the satellite view (below), we can see where the street view image is taken from, and where Convoy’s business is actually located (which corresponds to Convoy’s physical address).
Furthermore, if we click on the street view image, we can “move around” the van and see more of the strip mall and the stores inside. In fact, we quickly see that the street-view picture is very large, it’s just that Google is showing the frame that proudly features the other business’s van.
So, getting back to my earlier question, how do we fix this?
For Convoy, the issue was the marker placement. With closer inspection, we discovered that even though the physical address was correct in Google Places, the marker was on Convoy Street (hence the view from the street) rather than Convoy’s physical location, which is in the mall. To fix this, we clicked “Fix incorrect marker location” which then enabled us to move the marker to Convoy’s physical location (rather than the mall in general). To make sure we got the marker directly on Convoy we used the satellite view, rather than the map view. Following outlines the steps:
1) Logged into Google Places and viewing Edit mode for listing, click “Fix incorrect market location”
2) Click “satellite view”
3) Move marker
4) Click Save Changes
Now, when we look at Convoy’s Google Places Page we see that the street-view (with the competitor’s van) is gone.
In addition, now there is no street-view image at all. This is anecdotal but our suspicion is that because there is no street-view of Convoy’s physical location that corresponds with the marker (only a satellite view), Google Places shows no image at all on the Google Places page.
In short, problem solved….and rather quickly.
The interesting coda to this story is how we learned about moving the marker to change the satellite image. We called Google. That’s right…we picked up the phone and gave Google Places a call. Inspired by an earlier post by David Mihm that mentioned Google Places’s outbound telesales campaign to encourage adding a Tag to a listing, we called the number for Google Tags….
Given that Convoy has a Tag (and an active Adwords account), we figured they might be of some help. After talking through the situation of having a competitor’s van in our street-view photograph, the very helpful man from Google Places (not in Mountain View) suggested that we try moving the marker. Then he quickly got off the phone.
In summary, this post offers two revelations:
1) You can alter (or influence) your street-view photograph, and
2) You can call Google Places and ask for help.