11 million fake business listings on Google Maps, is your Law Firm at risk?
There are currently an estimated 11 million fake business listings on Google Maps, and new listings with false phone numbers or addresses arrive every month.
Making edits to a Google Maps listing is easy, and anyone can do it. If you wanted to, you could make it seem as though your competitor has closed down, or shortened their business hours, or you could slightly change their website address or even worse, and yes you can do that. You hope that no one does that to your business, but that’s the best you can do when it comes to protecting your Google Business Listing, or is it?
The business owner will receive an email about the change, and may notice it, but only after the change was implemented. They then need to go in and update their listing and wait hours to sometimes days or even weeks for Google to make the update in the search results.
I don’t think I’m alone in wishing we all had a way to disable people from making edits to our local listings if the local listing is verified and managed in a Google Business account. Improper edits can result in your listing completely disappearing from the search results, thus impacting your business in a major way.
One idea that’s been floated around would be to simply disallow third party updates for verified Google Business Listings.
There is software in existence that is suppose to monitor your Google Business Listing in real time. Some of them even claim to be able to stop changes to your listings before they go live. They typically charge a monthly fee for these kinds of services and may be overkill for most small businesses. LocalViking.com is one such provider, offering plans for businesses of all sizes.
Why does Google allow anyone to make edits to your business listings? Because if your business is shutting down, chances are you won’t take the time to go online and mark the business closed in Google maps. Many business owners do not claim or maintain their own Google business listing. In order for Google Maps to stay updated, it requires this open collaboration.
Allan Frisk from Phoenix writes, “I’ve seen cases in which due to external edits, name or categories get changed and when corrected by the listing owner, the listing goes into suspension! There should be a better way to manage external edits for verified businesses, something that shows information on updates to posts, photos, reviews, etc.”
Some business owners submit the listing correction and see the updates happen within as little as one hour, while others are not so lucky, and have been known to wait weeks. This is a harsh reality for Law Firms that depend on this organic listing, and a great reason to consult with a professional before attempting to manage or correct Google Business Listings.
In Orange County, California, the owner of one law firm had to film a video tour of his six area branches to reinstate his Google Maps listings. He found out that a competitor had posted 108 local listings, all of them with phone numbers that led back to that firm’s one office in the county. Other affected trades include moving, towing, vehicle repair, utility repair, and general contract work.
The best offense is a great defense, particularly when it comes to maintaining a Google Business Listing for a business generating millions of dollars. Digital Advertising Agencies, like SYZYGY, incorporate real-time Google Business Listing monitoring services into all of our service plans. If you believe you have a Google Maps or Google Business Listing problem, contact me via the “Inquire” tab to schedule a time to talk.
If you come across misleading information or fraudulent activity on Google Maps related to the name, phone number, or URL of a business, you may use this form to submit a complaint. Business Redressal Complaint Form
Brandon Speagle PPC Manager, Author, MDDS SYZYGY — Google Ads For Lawyers