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7 Little Known Things About Google Local Guides & Editing Listings on Google Maps

As someone who has been involved in editing on Google Maps for over a decade, I thought it was time to put some of the most-common myths to rest by laying out things that we have found are not commonly known about how edits work to listings on Google Maps.  

For clarity here, when we talk about Google Maps listings or Google My Business listings, these are essentially the same thing.  Listings on Google Maps that are owner-verified are often referred to as Google My Business listings.

  1. It’s not easy for a competitor to edit your Google My Business Listing.  It is definitely possible for a competitor to publish a malicious edit on your listing, but it is not easy. We have noticed over the years that it is increasingly difficult to remove a fake listing from Google Maps if it is owner-verified by simply suggesting an edit to the listing.  We often see that edits of this nature will either automatically decline or will go into a pending status.
  2. Having a higher Local Guide level does not mean you’ll get more edits published. This concept drives me nuts.  I’ll often see people brag about being a Level 7 or Level 8 Local Guide and say that it somehow gives them more power in Google’s eyes.  There is some truth to this but it needs to be clarified.

    Local Guides points are based on several things.  Some of these things do contribute to your trust level in Google’s eyes, and some don’t.  For example, I could rack up a ton of points leaving ratings for tons of businesses and reach a higher Local Guide level.  This isn’t going to magically make me able to have all my edits publish on Google Maps.

    The thing that has the biggest impact on your trust is your edits and if they get published or not.  
  3. The likeliness of an edit publishing has more to do with the listing you’re editing than the user editing it.  Since we regularly report fake listings & spam on Google Maps, we often find that the ability to get a change published on a listing has very little to do with the person editing the listing and everything to do with the listing itself and how much Google trusts it.  It has not always been this way.  Back when MapMaker was around, it had a lot more to do with the user and their trust level.  Now, if a listing is verified via Google My Business, it’s extremely hard to get fake listings removed even if you’re a Level 10 Local Guide.
  4. Google My Business suspensions don’t seem to weaken a listing’s authority.  People often think that if a Google Business Profile was suspended, it will make it weaker or less authoritative.  We’ve found this not to be the case. It doesn’t seem to matter how many times a listing has received a hard suspension, it still ranks the same and it still is difficult to get rid of a fake listing by submitting an edit on Google Maps.

  5. The more reviews a listing has, the harder it is to get rid of.  If you see a listing with dozens of reviews and you know it’s not a real business, don’t even waste your time trying to edit it.  Just send it directly to Google My Business to remove.  Don’t worry, the spammers already know this and it’s likely part of the reason why we see so many fake reviews on fake listings.


    Edits are reviewed by both machines and humans.  If you submit an edit to a listing, usually it will either get published, denied, or go into a pending status within the first 5-10 minutes after you submit it.  If it approves or denies, this wasn’t a person clicking a button at Google – it was automatic. If it goes into a pending status, we usually find it takes 8-12 weeks before someone at Google will actually look at it and you get a final approve/deny status.


    Published Edits to remove listings disappear from your edits tab.  If you report a listing as not existing or as spam and it publishes, that edit most likely won’t show up on your edits tab in Google Maps.  For example, all these spam listings that were removed do not show up in my edits tab. My assumption is that this happens because the listing is no longer publicly visible so the record vanishes along with it.

Are there other things you’ve found about edits on Google Maps that people often don’t know about?  Tell me about them in the comments.

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Joy Hawkins

Joy is the owner of the Local Search Forum, LocalU, and Sterling Sky, a Local SEO agency in Canada & the USA. She has been working in the industry since 2006, writes for publications such as Search Engine Land, and enjoys speaking regularly at marketing conferences such as MozCon, LocalU, Pubcon, SearchLove, and State of Search. You can find her on Twitter or volunteering as a Product Expert on the Google My Business Forum.

This Post Has 18 Comments

  1. Great article Joy! I do have a question about your 6th point “Edits are reviewed by both machines and humans.” and specifically “..we usually find it takes 8-12 weeks before someone at Google will actually look at it and you get a final approve/deny status.”
    How does Google’s “Check the Facts” tool come into play here? I had assumed that Google was using the answers here in place of having employees verify edits.

    1. Hey Dan. Good question. If other users also agree with the edit, it does sometimes get the edit to publish without a Google employee intervening. It all depends on the edit and how much Google trusts the information you are trying to change.

  2. Thanks for sharing your knowledge Joy, I always find these insightful.
    One thing I’d love to hear from you or another commenter: do you think suggesting an edit from multiple accounts increases the likelihood of approval or it’s position in the queue?
    I often flag duplicates and spam from my personal and work accounts, but if this is a waste of time and simply bloating the backlog of reports that Google’s human employees have to review, then I don’t want to do it.

    1. Hey Lachlan,
      It’s definitely worth a shot. Sometimes it helps, other times it doesn’t. It depends more on the trust level of the listing itself.

  3. One thing that I have found to be easy to get accepted, even for “national” brands, is when they show hours as 24x7x365, but they are really only open from 08:00 – 17:00.
    In the healthcare and eldercare industries, this sort of fibbing about hours is very common, so it’s worth trying to get it cleaned up when my clients’ competitors are doing it.

  4. Any time I report a business I click the little “Save” button and add the listing to a saved list in “Your places” titled “I busted ’em”.
    Then even if the listing is removed, I still have a record of the name of the business (Stored from time of reporting) and geo location. (As well a a score card for myself.)
    If you add the business to the list too late after reporting then the name in your list gets updated to just it’s former coordinates after being removed.

  5. We suggested an edit for an attorney with a spammed business name around Feb. 1st and now that we check we see that business nowhere in Maps, do repeat offenders get banned permanently or is it a temporary slap? This business spammed their name many times.

    1. Hey Chris, I would say that it’s more likely that someone else reported the business so it got removed. Google definitely removes listings for keyword stuffing. They usually do come back though once they comply and update the business name in GMB so it’s correct.

  6. It used to be repeat offenders would just get a temporary slap down. They would then get the listings reinstated and the game would begin again. Whack-a-mole. Frustrating at best.
    Lately though I believe that has changed a bit. I feel Google is trying to get better at dealing with repeat offenders. Occasionally I see evidence “the listing” may seem to have returned, but under the covers it’s not the exact same listing.
    As far as the entire account getting banned – yes it’s possible, just not Google’s preferred option. Same with fake reviewers – only recently is Google permanently killing off fake review profiles.

  7. Hi Joy
    Thanks for sharing the important facts about Google Business Listing. Regarding 6th point I believe that all process is done by Google employees manually and it take very long time as I have suggested genuine changes on 1 listing and they are still pending even 2 months have gone.
    Google should make this process fast.

    1. Kamal,
      Unfortunately I haven’t seen any increase in this timeline in the last 5+ years. In the MapMaker days we were actually able to confirm just how long the queue was but I haven’t seen it get any better since they discontinued MapMaker.

  8. Re #4. We recently had a suspension due to something I screwed up on GBM and it definitely affected our ranking. We were ranking well for the city and now ranking basically like a brand new establishment. When I called GMB to talk to them, they said that the suspension has affected the ranking.

    1. Hey Bob,
      I have seen this before in cases where they actually issued a new listing (instead of reinstating the old one). Did you happen to lose reviews when it was reinstated? I would also suggest never taking advice from GMB support on ranking – they aren’t trained on that and are completely separate from the engineers who actually work on the algorithm.

  9. Who can you contact if you are POSITIVE that an edit you suggest gets “NOT APPLIED” automatically and it should be added or updated …..? A good example is a rest area on Interstate 94 westbound at Hathaway, MT but is showing up on the map as eastbound. I tried to edit to westbound and it was rejected automatically and almost INSTANTLY!! But it IS incorrect on the map and needs to be changed.

  10. I am guilty of editing my postings quite a bit so is there a limit to my editing. The last time I tried to do it on a certain review, I wasn’t allowed to do it and they gave me the option of saving it as a draft. Explain please.

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