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Unintended Consequences: Google Shortnames

There are some branding advantages for shortening a business name on Google. But, what if your listing simply disappears after shortening the name?

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BSB Contributing Editor Mark Claypool has more than 30 years of experience in the fields of workforce development, apprenticeships, marketing and Web presence management with SkillsUSA, the I-CAR Education Foundation, Mentors at Work, VeriFacts Automotive and the NABC. He is the CEO of Optima Automotive (www.optimaautomotive.com), which provides website design, SEO services and social media management services.

Sometimes, actions you take have unintended consequences – things you don’t anticipate, things no one could have predicted, things that are a surprise to everyone involved. That’s what happened to us and one of our clients recently and, I might add, to Google itself. So, please be my psychiatrist for a moment. Let me lay on this couch and vent my frustration to you, and you might learn something in the process.

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Shortening a Name

Joining me on the couch will be my director of digital communications, Kristen, and our client, who I’ll call JB. We all need therapy after the unintended consequences of shortening the client’s name on Google My Business.

There are some branding advantages for shortening a name or we wouldn’t have done it in the first place. The intention is to provide you, a business owner or manager, with a shorter URL on your Google My Business page that you can promote and have it show up better when your business or service is searched on Google and Google Maps. It’s convenient and quick for consumers to search for and find you. But, what if your listing simply disappears after shortening the name? This was the unintended consequence we all need therapy for.

Immediately after shortening the name, we were notified that the business listing was “suspended.” That means the company’s Google My Business listing was down completely. What?! Why?! We were just doing what Google had promoted to all of us and made available. We were told by Google that they would reinstate the page “soon,” but that’s never soon enough when you’re the business owner and your listing goes down. It directly impacts your business, likely costing you opportunities to fix cars. JB wasn’t happy at all, and we didn’t blame him. Kristen was scrambling behind the scenes pulling every string and calling in every favor to get this fixed. And she succeeded in just a couple days, even though Google told her it could take two to three weeks. But wait, there’s more…

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Where Are the Reviews?

Yes, the business listing came back, but now all the shop’s reviews were gone. Again, JB wasn’t happy and understandably so. He and his team had earned those reviews and now they were gone. Kristen was losing sleep and so was I. Kristen again made contact with her personal Google resource and they indicated that they had no idea what happened. That was helpful. Our client was upset that his reviews were gone and Google had no answers for us. As our psychiatrist, I believe this is where you prescribe Xanax for us and tell us to find our happy place, do some yoga, go on vacation and lower our stress level. But we can’t do that until this gets addressed.

A few days go by. Google finally gets back to us and tells us we were the first to report this issue to them but they had received many similar complaints since that time and there appeared to be a bug in their system. But they didn’t know what to do about it just yet. We were honored to be the first, we always like to be first, but not like this. Again, their response was very “helpful.” No sleep. More Xanax. Google gets back to us a few days later and tells us the reviews are still there but not showing up and it would take two to three weeks to reappear, but they assured us they would definitely reappear…eventually. And that’s what happened. Eventually, those reviews did come back.

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Still There

At press time, the Google issue with creating shortnames is still there but isn’t happening to every listing. Google issued a statement about it indicating the issue is being “corrected.” Even though their system indicates the listing is “suspended,” the listing really isn’t, it is just not visible due to a “technical issue.” Things will be fixed, “soon.” Again, helpful. The topic is being discussed everywhere in our world of web presence management.

Does shortening your name on Google My Business make sense? Yes…just not until Google fixes these issues. To set up your own Google shortname or get more information and updates on their current status, visit: ow.ly/ybO350vgH3r. Currently, at the top of this page, you’ll see an alert that says, “We’re receiving a high volume of questions about suspended listings. If you’ve appealed for reinstatement, it may take at least 2-3 weeks to process your appeal. Thanks for your patience.” Time for some more Xanax.

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