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May 31, 2021

Who Has Been Making Edits To My GMB Listing?

Have you noticed that some of the details on your Google My Business listing have changed?  And it wasn’t you doing the edits!

Don’t panic.  I get asked about this often and while unauthorised changes on your GMB listing aren’t always threatening, they can harm your business.   I’ve also noticed that despite Google’s stated intention to proactively email website owners when there’s been update to a GMB listing, there is a growing number of reports of notifications not being received.  This is a real concern as these updates can appear live even though the edit hasn’t been verified by the website owner.

Google My Business is a valuable resource and it can make a real difference to businesses which want to stand out online and convert searches into customers.  But I also know that it is not something you can ‘set and forget’ and you should log in at least once a month to check for any unauthorised edits.  Changes appear in orange type until they’ve been approved by you, so they’re pretty easy to spot.

Unauthorised edits are unwelcome because:

  • They can negatively impact your ranking on Google. Primary categories for businesses carry the most weight in terms of rankings.  Changes in these can have a significant impact on where the website is positioned on the rankings.  For example, one of my clients had their primary category changed from ‘washing machine repair service’ to ‘washing machine contractor’ and they plummeted from 1st to 25th in the rankings overnight.
  • They can lead to a bad user experience. We all know how annoying it is to discover a business is closed – even though their business hours listed on the internet say they’re open.  Just imagine if the hours that you had specified on GMB were amended without your consent – unbeknown to you.  That could add up to several unhappy customers, lost business and perhaps even negative Google reviews.
  • They can affect how efficiently your business is tracked. If any of your call tracking phone numbers or UTM codes are removed from your listing, it will affect your stats in Google Analytics.

The big question is where are these changes coming from?  The more you know, the better because you can then put up more effective defences and prevent them from happening in the first place.

The four most likely sources of edits are:

  1. Third party data. If you see the same edit come up repeatedly on GMB, it may be as a result of inconsistent or inaccurate information about your business on directory sites.  Do a Google search of your business name and check your details in all the most important directories (ie those on page one).  They need to be the same across the board.  For example, you may be noticing that your opening hours keep getting changed.  Let’s say you changed opening hours temporarily because because of Covid-19 restrictions but forgot to update ‘Express Update’ when things reverted to normal, you may find that you’re seeing repeated changes on GMB.  An audit of the directories should help sort this out.
  2. Third party apps. You’ll probably be surprised at how many apps have access to your GMB listing.  Even if you no longer use the app, it can still push data to your GMB listing so it is crucial that you manage these properly.  Do this by checking all your apps using the security section of your account settings.  You can then either remove the setting which authorises them to push data to GMB or make sure that the ones that have access to your account have accurate information about your business.
  3. Public users. However unfair it may seem, random people can suggest a change or an edit to your GMB listing.  Even your competitors!  Google My Business and Google Maps are set up to allow the public to make edits, and if Google trusts the source, it will simply approve the change which then goes live.  This is another reason why you need to be vigilant about your GMB listing and monitor it regularly.  You can discover public suggestions in the Local Finder section of GMB (you’ll see the words  ‘A user suggested’ marked in orange type, followed by their edit) as well as in the Dashboard in Search.  When you do a branded search, your knowledge panel will show up on the right and if a public user has suggested an edit, it will appear in a box called ‘Your business on Google’ which is found under the ads on the left hand side.
  4. Another website owner or manager. I recommend that you do a regular audit of your website’s authorised users.  It’s very easy to forget to remove an ex-employee or someone who had authority to access your website (eg a web designer) and whose services you no longer use.  You need to ensure that every person who has access to your site is trustworthy and has your best interests in mind.

As mentioned earlier, there is a growing prevalence of Google updates being published without any email alerting website owners or managers to the edits.    Remember to check your GMB dashboard regularly and any ‘Updates from Google’.  You need to review those changes as soon as possible and fix any inaccuracies so that the wrong information doesn’t harm your business.

If a strong online presence is important to your business and you’d like to learn more about how to achieve greater visibility and a top ranking in the search engines, you’ll be interested in my DIY guide to search engine optimisation.  The SEO School is an online, self-paced modular course that gives you all the insider tips, tricks and practical tools to help you get found online.

I designed The SEO School with small businesses in mind, because in my 20 years as a digital marketing specialist in Perth, I have learned how valuable SEO is for commercial success.   To learn more or to sign up for The SEO School, please get in touch at https://theseoschool.com.

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