In this article, we’ll be uncovering a scary truth about Google My Business, and what you can do to protect yourself.
A couple notes before we get started…
- If you don’t already know what a Google Business Listing is, I highly recommend you check out our post on Google My Business 101. This will provide you with an excellent framework for what Google My Business is, why it matters, and best practices for using it.
- If you know what Google My Business is and haven’t already claimed an account, then be sure to also check out our article, How to Claim Your Google My Business (Google Maps) Listing. Keep reading and you’ll soon find out why this is ABSOLUTELY CRUCIAL to your business, especially in 2021.
To begin, we need to understand why Google would make this possible in the first place.
When you think of Google what is the first thing that comes to mind? Most likely their search engine but did you know that Google is THE LARGEST data collection company in the world outside of the CIA/NSA? Although there is a crossover between the two, I’d argue that, in general, Google focuses on collecting public data and the CIA/NSA focuses on private-sensitive data and more so overseas (although Google is worldwide).
Now you’re probably wondering why would I waste your time telling you this?
Because it’s a leading statement…
The real question I want you to ask yourself.
HOW are they able to be the largest data collection company in the world? Let’s start there and then that will guide us to the real answer.
They use YOU, me, and everyone else on this planet, as their open-source data providers and managers, for FREE.
And now you might be thinking I’m about to go down this long rabbit-hole discussion about how they are big brother spying on everyone and how unethical it is or is not yada yada… but I’ll save that for another day and just say every human on the planet is their source of income and whatever benefits us also benefits them.
So how does Google accidentally allow your competitors to steal your business easily and freely without you potentially ever knowing about it?
Just tell me, already! (Is what you’re telling yourself at this point)
We are almost there, I promise… you would agree the best way to learn is to find the answer yourself, right?
So here are the last three questions to lead you to what you NEED to know!
Did you know that Google allows you to make suggestions to it? (just like Wikipedia)
Did you know that Google will do its best to fact check your suggestions but is given no reason to doubt your suggestion, it will just go ahead and implement it until someone else comes along to update or correct it?
So then based on the above, are you aware that a competitor can go to Google (right now!) and suggest that your’ business phone # is wrong and that Google should update it to a new number they suggest?
That’s right! If your Google My Business listing is unclaimed, there is nothing stopping your competitor from changing your phone number to a new number. Yikes…
But it can’t be that easy, right? Doesn’t the multi-billion dollar Google have a perfect system to decide who is telling the truth and who isn’t? Well, you’d think! But it’s not that easy apparently…
Yes, of course, it’s in Google’s best interest to be accurate, not just so you feel protected but because their credibility is everything to them… But it doesn’t matter how much money you have, at the end of the day the organization is still just built and made up of humans who are not perfect. So there is only so much a company that is collecting, indexing, and doing their best to keep up with every single business’ profile in the whole world can do.
In order for it to be as big as it is, it has to allow for automated user feedback and updates or, right? Maybe not, but they’ve obviously decided the pros outweigh the cons… but after my discussion with multiple Google employees, they all share the same sentiment that the biggest challenge they face on a daily basis is the human factor.
My final question in this article, to scare you even further and get you to take action RIGHT NOW if you haven’t already done so…
Did you know there is actually a software we use to identify which businesses have unclaimed, claimed, and verified their Google My Business Listings? Yup!
If I was an unethical business, I would use that software to identify every one of my client’s competitors and then update all the unprotected competitor’s profiles to redirect to my client’s business instead.
What immediate steps can you take to protect yourself?
Step 1 – Claim Your Google My Business Listing Today!
- Check out our free guide: How to Claim Your Google Business Listing
- You can book a call here and either myself or one of my team will help you do it for FREE! It only takes us about 5 minutes to run through all the steps together.
Step 2 – Assign An Administrator To Your Listing
Why is this important?
When a suggestion is made to a Google Business listing, they will automatically attempt to validate that suggestion with the owner and admins tied to that listing. If no one responds back to the automated email that contains the suggested edit, the update will typically occur within two weeks.
It is CRITICAL that you or someone who represents your business is aware of this and takes responsibility for keeping an eye on their inbox and RESPONDS to any necessary change requests that come in and trust me, this does happen! Sadly, it’s actually happened to us.
Concerned that you won’t be able to keep up with it on your own? We can help.
Hire us to be your “registered agent” for your Google My Business listing and you’ll never have to worry about being insecure again.
My suggestion for how Google verifies suggestions
To my knowledge, they only use email to validate suggestions. I would suggest that they use their new automated voice receptions to attempt to validate phone numbers. And they really don’t even need an automated voice receptionist. They could simply send a text / make a call to the active phone number that says something to the effect of: “This is Google. A suggestion was just made to update this number to the suggested number. If this is still your number, no action is required. If the new number is correct, please press 1 to confirm.” And if no one picks up then send a text and the system can keep trying once a day for a week and then auto confirm. That’s assuming it was a suggestion and not a direct edit by the owner or admin of the profile.
Anyways, I’m sure the Google team has probably thought of the above in addition to 50 other alternatives solutions. I just hope the reason they haven’t implemented such a solution yet is because of the additional cost associated because the amount they could be losing businesses, as a result, would be much greater than the money saved… in fact, they could even profit from it by making it a paid feature and that’s what I would call a win-win! 😉
All The Best,
George G. Copeland