*Updated February 9, 2022
We often see posts on the Local Search Forum from people wondering why business details on their Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business) listings (name of the listing, categories, business hours, phone number, etc.) have changed without their knowledge or consent. Unauthorized changes or google listing updates on GBP (no matter how minor they seem) can lead to major issues with ranking and tracking. It can also show customers the wrong information about your business. The best way to make sure you’re sending the right message to your clients on GBP is to monitor your listings for unauthorized edits. Which leaves us with the million-dollar question, where are these edits coming from?
Why Do Unauthorized GBP Listing Edits Matter?
Before I get into where the edits are coming from, I need to address the impact these google listing updates can have on your business.
- The first issue is user experience, for example: an edit changes your listed business hours, and someone shows up to your business when you’re closed. That is a bad user experience, which is something Google tries to avoid. You also don’t want to be unknowingly upsetting your clients or turning away potential future business.
- Tracking is another issue that can affect the way you do business. If you’re using a call tracking phone number or UTM codes, they can be stripped off the listing, leaving you with incorrect data in Google Analytics.
- The final and most important issue is ranking. Having your name or categories switched without your knowledge can completely change how you rank. We had an HVAC company whose primary category was changed from “Air Conditioning Repair Service” to “Air Conditioning Contractor” and they dropped from 1st to 31st overnight. The primary category holds more weight than any other category so when it’s changed, it has a large impact on ranking.
How Are These GBP Listing Changes Happening?
Since having details on your Google Business Profile listing change without your knowledge can harm your business, it’s important to figure out where they’re coming from. In most cases, the edits are coming from 1 of 4 sources; your website, 3rd party apps, another owner/manager, or a public user.
1. Your Website
Google has been adding services to listings a lot lately. You might go into the GBP (formerly GMB) dashboard and see a massive list of things that were added to the service menu. The main source that Google is getting these from is the business’ website.
Tip: If you remove these services after they have been added, they should not come back again, although you might want to check once a month or so to make sure Google hasn’t reinserted them.
2. Third-Party Apps
This is something many people overlook when analyzing an issue with GBP. You’ve likely given a ton of 3rd party apps access to your listing over the years. Some that you probably don’t even use anymore. You can check what apps have access to your account under the security section of your account settings (or use this link).
Apps can be set up to push data to Google Business Profiles so you’ll want to make sure to either remove the authorization, turn that setting off, or make sure all information in those apps is correct. If you see any apps that you don’t recognize or don’t use anymore, remove their access to your account. Some of the apps we have found in the past were responsible for updating GBP data include:
Tip: If there is a group of users that has access to the listing, every single user that is in that group needs to check their account to see what they have authorized. If you run an agency that has 20 people in a group, all 20 people need to check what they have authorized via that link above.
3. Another Manager/Owner
This is another edit source that might seem obvious but many people don’t consider it when trying to figure out where their edits came from. It’s important to periodically review all authorized users and remove old employees and users you don’t recognize. Any user on the listing can make edits at any time without your knowledge so you need to make sure that only people you trust have access to your listing.
4. A Public User
Google Maps and GBP are both set up to allow the public to make edits to listings. It’s important to note that just because someone makes an edit it doesn’t necessarily mean it will go live, but if Google trusts the source (for example, a Google Maps user with a high trust level), it’s more likely to get approved and pushed live.
How do you know if a public user made an edit?
There are 2 places where you can see if a public user suggested an edit to your listing:
1. The Local Finder. When you pull up your listing in maps, you’ll see in orange “A user suggested” followed by the edit they made.
2. The Dashboard in Search. When you’re logged in, do a branded search on Google. You should see your knowledge panel show up on the right. Under the ads on the left (if there are any), you’ll see a box that says “Your business on Google”. If there was a user suggested edit on your listing, you’ll see it in that dashboard.
Even easier than this though, according to Ben Fisher from Steady Demand, if the edit in your dashboard shows grey it means that a user suggested the edit.
If the suggested edit shows orange it means that Google or one of the other sources listed above is responsible for the suggested edit.
Updates from Google
The final takeaway is that when you see “Updates from Google” from within your dashboard, those edits have already been published.
If you see this in your dashboard, carefully review those edits and fix any incorrect information. Google sends out alert emails to the managers and owners on the listings when something has been updated in your google listing, so make sure to check that email account regularly. The longer you have incorrect information on your GBP listing, the more harm it can do to your business.
Contact Top Rated SEO Experts At Sterling Sky Inc.
If you’re a local business that needs help with their Google Business Profile listing or their business’s online presence on Google and other search engines, at Sterling Sky we can help. We offer SEO audits, consulting, or monthly local SEO services. Contact our office today for more information.
Check out what Kayla had to say about our local SEO services on Google.
“Everyone I have talked to and worked with at Sterling are amazing! They are great at problem-solving and always come up with straightforward solutions to any problems I’m running into. I would recommend them to any local business I know.”
January 19, 2021
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