Do you have a Google Maps listing for your local business? When was the last time you checked it? Google Maps listings are under constant threat of being altered without the manager’s knowledge or consent. In this blog post, we’ll examine what’s behind this chronic problem, how it can impact you, and what you can do to protect yourself. Let’s jump in, shall we?
Anyone Can Edit Your Google Maps Listing
First things first: How can your listing be changed without your say-so? It’s surprisingly easy these days. Google essentially allows all of its users to edit other business’s listings with the simple click of a button. When a user clicks “Suggest an Edit,” they submit proposed changes to Google regarding any piece of information, such as phone number, street address, business hours, website URL, and business name. Google then decides whether to accept the changes or not. Typically, Google keeps a suggested edit when multiple people submit the same one, but there doesn’t appear to be a hard-and-fast rule for how it makes its decisions. However, no matter the case, Google does not involve the listing owner whatsoever in its decision. Furthermore, when Google decides to sustain an edit to your listing, it will not notify you. Making matters worse, these community edits don’t show any information about the user who made the change. In other words, Google offers no accountability for random, unsubstantiated edits from anonymous users. Desperate businesses can easily sabotage their local competitors with zero consequence.
It Can Happen to You
In fact, a nightmare scenario played out back in November when nearly 60 listings for insurance companies all had their phone numbers changed to the same one—which had no connection to any of those companies. Instead, this new phone number directed callers to a lead provider, who would then sell these leads back to the insurance companies who owned the edited listings. Effectively, the victimized companies now had to shell out money for their own leads. You can read all about this debacle over on Search Engine Land. Hopefully, it proves to be an extreme fluke. However, it’s a cautionary tale of the damage that can happen when you’re not paying attention to the information on your Google Maps listing. Your listing may be displaying the wrong information to your visitors while you’re none the wiser. When Google shows users the wrong information about your business, they won’t be able to get in touch with you. You’ll lose customers as a result. Plus, since this information will now conflict with the rest of your business information on the web, your rankings could be negatively affected. When your listing is edited by another user without your knowledge, the damage can be far reaching.
Protecting Yourself Is Easy
The above example is exactly why we urge business owners to actively and regularly check on their Google Maps listings. If you check your listing just once a day, you’re likely to catch any incorrect changes, fix them, and minimize damage to your rankings and daily business operations.
1. Don’t Google Yourself
But beware: Do NOT google yourself to check your Maps listing. Few people know this, but regularly googling yourself actually causes significant problems for your search rankings. As we explained in our blog post, “The Ins and Outs of Googling Yourself”:
In your own, individualized Google results, you can drive your placement down in the listings by repeatedly searching for—and not clicking on—yourself. This certainly happens for your own personal search engine results, but if you do it enough, it’s also conceivable that you could impact your rankings when other people search as well!
Googling yourself is equally damaging to any PPC or AdWords campaigns you’re running. When you google yourself without clicking on anything, you spike your number of impressions without adding to the number of clicks. This lowers the click-through rate (CTR) of your ads, which drives down your Quality Score as a result. Read more in our blog post, “When Pay-Per-Click Becomes Pay-Per-Search.”
2. Use Your Google Account
Thankfully, getting around this problem is fairly easy: Just sign in to your Google account and peek at your Maps listing through the dashboard, instead. The whole process only takes a couple of minutes, and it’s well worth the effort when you consider the alternative and its downsides. In addition, the majority of small business owners rarely ever check on their Google Maps listings. This is what leaves so many of them vulnerable to sabotage. So if you start checking yours on a regular basis, you’ll be way ahead of the competition!
Too busy or can’t remember to check your listing every day? For less than $10 a month, Prospect Genius can do it for you! Check out our MapTrax™ service to learn more. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Now that you’re aware of this problem, which is facing local business owners everywhere, you have what you need to prevent it from hurting your business. Good luck!