In mid-October, Google made it possible for anyone logged in to his Google account to go into Google Places and update ANY Google Places account. How’s that for creating potential problems for business owners?

“User-Generated Content” is all very nice, but it seems to us that this is taking it a little too far.

There’s nothing at all to keep your competitor or a disgruntled employee, or even a psychotic patient from posting “This location may be closed” or changing your business hours or address.  Even a well-intentioned person could make a posting or typing error.

If you’ve claimed your listing, you’ll get an email when a third party makes a change to your account, so you’ll have an opportunity to correct a malicious change, but that requires that you’re paying close attention, and that your email address is current. Even so, the change may go live first, and you could lose business in the meantime.

If you haven’t claimed your listing, you’ll never know about it.

So . . . three things to do.

One–    Be sure you claim your listing, and that the email address shown there is one you check every day. Check our earlier blog post and video series on the right way to claim your listing.

Two–    Routinely go to Google and search for “your business name” “in” “city” “state”, and check your listing.

Three–  Set up a “Google Alert” for your business name and your website name, so that if you somehow miss it, you still have a chance to be notified if your business name is mentioned on the Web.  (We’ve talked about the importance of doing this before, if you haven’t…call us and we’ll tell you more about why you should.)

Anybody have a different take, or had it happen to you? Let’s hear it.