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No. 1014
September 6th, 2011

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Mike Blumenthal Featured in New York Times; Google Responds Immediately

I came across a very pleasant surprise on last night: this article on the ease of crowdsourcing business closures within Google Places.   “The Oracle of Olean,” Mike Blumenthal, features prominently in the second half of the article, as the Times found his experiment on closing Google’s Mountain View location particularly illustrative and amusing.

Google has already responded this morning with as much of a mea culpa as Mountain View is ever likely to offer, with Ethan Russell highlighting “news in the blogosphere” that made them aware that this was occurring.  That “news” was likely Mike’s experiment.  (It should be noted this is not the first time Google has paid attention to a Maps/Places problem after it has made national news headlines.)

While Linda Buquet of Catalyst eMarketing was also quoted by the Times, this marks a crowning achievement of sorts for Mike, who’s worked tirelessly not only to expose bugs and poor “features” within Google Maps/Places to a wider audience, but directly helping the business owners who find their way to the Maps/Places forums.  I’m super-excited (and strangely, proud-for-him, if that’s even an emotion), to see him get recognition that has been such a long time in coming.

Good on the Times for not only getting the story 100% right but interviewing two of the best in our space.  Send Mike and Linda congratulatory notes here and here.

  • David, thank you for your words. You have always been an advocate for me, even when I “step over the line” and I appreciate that.

    My 15 minutes of fame though will pale as Google delivers on their promise and potential of building out a great marketing capability for local businesses.

    While I find it slightly disingenuous of Google to note that they have only been aware of this problem for several weeks, I am incredibly happy that they are fixing this issue. It will allow many an SMB to sleep better at night.

  • @David & @Mike…a great notice here, David…I especially loved the fact that the reporter picked up on that “vigilante” strike at Google’s own Places page that was closed over ‘n over ‘n over…it was a great feeling to “do” to Google what I see being done to others…

    And as Mike said, yes….I too have a client who’s sleeping better due to this promised “fix”!!!



  • @David, thanks for a nice write-up on a long-time issue. Mike has been instrumental to me on a couple Google places issues I’ve had with clients. It’s nice to see him get some well deserved attention and recognition. Keep up the great work, guys!

  • Mike, along with Linda, and yourself, really deserve more recognize outside the scope of our industry. Thanks for making it easier for us to succeed as local internet marketers to provide a great lifestyle for ourselves AND for our clients! Just picked up another client today! I would also like to see if we can host you in our city for the GetListed University. I submitted a formal inquiry on the site, but never heard anything. I’m also curious to know how Mike earns a living with all the free advice he gives!….lol…

  • Eric,
    Did you submit the inquiry to Either your inquiry or my response must have gotten lost in a spam filter somewhere. What city are you in? Feel free to email for more details.


  • @Eric

    I work on a freemium model. 🙂

    Actually I love local and figure that with passion the income will take care of itself.


  • Why does Google only act on major bugs like this when outed? Doesn’t make sense.

  • Jaan, I agree it’s unfortunate that it takes high-visibility mainstream publications in order to get them to act on bugs…but now that Mike and Linda have the ear of the NYT, there may be many more of those 😀

  • Of course this story hit while I was off on an unplugged vacation! 😉

    Just got back. Madly playing catch up, but wanted to share here what I just posted on Mike’s blog. It’s a little backstory about the story.

    When David from the NYtimes 1st contacted me a couple weeks ago, it was for another Google Places news story – a different GP problem I’ve blogged about a couple times. I helped him with that story, which still could go to print – not sure.

    Then I asked him if he’d like another Google Places story lead about a different problem that is negatively impacting small businesses and filled him in on this issue.

    I helped David with research for a couple weeks and told him he really needed to talk to Mike and get the scoop about the vigilante closings of the Google offices. Plus really wanted Mike to get some recognition for all the work he puts into helping our industry with Places issues.

    Have not had time to look at my analytics yet but I think the story was also picked up by NBC and other outlets, plus I got a request for a radio interview. So hopefully word will spread about this issue.

    I’m hoping one outcome, as David mentioned in his last comment, is that now when Mike, me and others blog about important problems that affect SMBs, Google may listen closer and react faster, knowing that Mike and I have easy access to someone at the Times that seems to have a real interest in this type of story. David has done other Google Places related news stories as well, including a recent one about the Locksmith spam problem.

    Thanks David Segal for picking up and running this story and thanks Mike for all you do!

  • Thanks to Mike, Linda, and of course you David, for all your hard work. Anytime people ask me: “Who are masters of local search I always say: SMB (Shotland, Mihm, and Blumehtal, no particular order except for being cute with acronym).