Google announced that it is now updating business listings on Google Places for businesses, rather than waiting for businesses to do it. That's not to say that you can't update it yourself, but Google basically says it will do so for businesses who don't count this as a priority.
Google may get data from users who provide it, or if their own system acquires data by other means. Luckily, Google will send business owners email notifications when their listings are updated.
Here are the exact words from the announcement:
And while some business owners may have previously verified their organic listing to ensure that their company information was correct at that particular moment in time, we recognize that amidst all the work that goes into running a successful enterprise, remembering to update their Google Places account may not always be top of mind. Oftentimes, a neighborhood local or a loyal customer is eager to help their favorite business update its online presence when it moves into a bigger space across the street, or extends its hours for the summer season.
That’s why today, we’re introducing a new process that helps streamline the way updates are made to potentially outdated or incorrect business listings. Previously, verified business listings would always reflect the information provided by its owner - even if we received data about an updated name, address, or hours of operation. But now, if a user provides new information about a business they know -- or if our system identifies information from another source on the web that may be more recent than the data the business owner provided via Google Places -- the organic listing will automatically be updated and the business owner will be sent an email notification about the change. Without requiring any effort on the part of the business owner, we’ll take measures to keep their listing up-to-date if our system determines that the edit is accurate. Of course, if the business owner disagrees or has even more recent information, they can always directly log in to their Google Places account and make further edits.
Not that it's every really stopped, but Google seems particularly focused on the local/maps side of things at the moment. Google Maps were even brought up in the company's Q3 earnings call yesterday.
"I am super pleased with Google Maps--it’s a favorite with our users, especially on mobile devices," CEO Larry Page said on the call. "In August we launched in 40 new countries--taking our total to 130 countries."
He also mentioned the "baking" of identity into all of Google's products (via Google+). "The new visual redesign--beautiful, consistent UIs for search, news, maps, translate and lots of other features," he said. "It’s only the beginning of that process!" It's going to be quite interesting to see where that goes.
One can only assume that when Google finally rolls out business profiles for Google+ that they'll be heavily integrated with Google Places business listings.
Google notes that the new changes to the business listing updating will not affect online ads from business owners using AdWords, and that ads will continue to display the business info the owner has provided. I can't imagine the backlash they would face if that wasn't the case.