From Q&A to Suggested Edits, Why GMB is the CMO’s New Nightmare for Brand Consistency
Did you claim your Google My Business (GMB) Short Name yet? Are you regularly creating Google Posts? How many people are following your GMB profile? Do you know what your cover photo looks like? Have you added all your attributes? Are you taking advantage of Quick Links? Are you consistently answering Q&A questions? Do you check your GMB messages? How often do you respond to reviews?
If reading these questions is stressing you out, you’re not alone. The number of features being added to GMB profiles is turning into a CMO’s nightmare. Why? Many of these features are threatening brand consistency by encouraging user-generated content. The last thing any marketer wants is the spread of inaccurate information about their brand, unfortunately, some of these GMB features are posing a threat that many brand’s don’t know how to protect against. Here’s a look at why brand’s need to have a strategy in place for safeguarding the integrity of their GMB listings.
Where does Google source listing information from?
Google sources its listing information from many places. Although it may start with the information you include in your GMB account, Google doesn’t just take the brand’s word for it. Google verifies listing information through citation signals and user-generated content.
What is a Local Citation?
A local citation is any online mention of NAPWCHD. These can be found on other local business directories, websites, apps and on social platforms. Because citation signals attribute for 11% of how Google ranks a business, the accuracy of these citations are essential to your local SEO success.
When it comes to citations from local business directories we divide them into three different tiers. The first tier includes Google, Bing, Facebook, Apple, Yelp and Foursquare. These listings are usually claimed and updated by brands themselves. Tiers 2 and 3, on the other hand, are usually created by data aggregators like Acxiom, Neustar, and Infogroup.
Data aggregators rely on public records to source their information and it’s the business’ job to verify the information. If incorrect, the information being spread can create confusion for Google. Most times, GMB will update the listing information to match that of the data aggregators. GMB assumes this information is correct because the aggregators have already created 100’s of much smaller listings using the same information.
The Gamification of User-Generated Content
Although data aggregators can quickly spread misinformation about your business, the biggest threat to brand consistency on GMB is user-generated content. Google has even gone so far as to gamify user-generated content by giving users points and levels for submitting content to Google Maps.
Google encourages users (also known as Local Guides) to share content on Google Maps. Local Guides get points for doing the following:
- Leaving Reviews
- Rating Businesses
- Uploading Photos
- Providing Answers
- Adding Places
- Submitting Edits
- Fact Checking
- Uploading Videos
- And participating in Q&A
As a brand, the fact that Google allows users to have this much power over your local listing is pretty scary. But the fact that Google is gamifying user contributions is a brand’s worst nightmare. Regardless of whether or not a user’s contribution is accurate, they get points for making changes to your listings.
Example of Local Guide Contribution Points
Anyone can make a change to your GMB listing that could be detrimental to your brand, even your competitors. It’s not just reviews that brands have to worry about anymore, it’s suggested edits to your hours, address, category, contact information, website and more. They can even mark your business as closed, non-existent, or a duplicate listing. And if users aren’t suggesting edits, they’re in your Q&A section spreading false information.
A Local Guide recommends a consumer visit’s Michael’s on the listing Q&A section of their competitor, Hobby Lobby.
We’ve already written about how brands don’t have control of their cover photo, Google does. The possibilities for user-generated content to take control of your local business listings are endless. Which is why every CMO needs a plan in place to protect the integrity of their online presence.
How to Protect Brand Consistency
The idea that you can just set your local business listings and forget it is a myth. Because of all the information data aggregators are pushing out and the amount of user-generated content being submitted, the average local business listing changes every 5-6 days. And this isn’t only on Google, other Tier 1 directories like Facebook and Yelp are also encouraging users to submit content to business listings. Brands need to monitor their listings regularly in order to correct these changes as they come.
For a single location brand that’s simple, but for large multi-location brands with 100’s of listings across 100’s of directories, it’s impossible to monitor everything without a tool in place to alert you to these changes.
Chatmeter’s all-in-one platform specifically designed to help multi-location brands to monitor and protect their local listings and online reputation, but it’s the only tool with a built-in local listing task management system. Chatmeter’s Workflow catches all listing inaccuracies, creates tasks and alerts users to correct the errors; eliminating the fear of inconsistent online data being spread about your brand.
Protecting brand consistency online is no easy task. The CMOs who understand that implementing a listing and reputation monitoring tool like Chatmeter is just the cost of doing business in a digital world, are going to outlast their competitors. If you’re not sure how consistent your listing information is, try our instant audit tool today. Don’t let consumers corrupt your online information, it’s time to take back control of your local business listings.