Last week, The Wall Street Journal posted an article exposing an estimated 11 million fake business listings on Google Maps. That same day, Google released both a response to the article and updates to Google My Business (GMB). For the real businesses that are dealing with fake listings on Google Maps, these latest updates appear to be a quick solution to Google’s ongoing battle with fake business listings.
Google Maps’ Fake Listing Problem
With over 150 million businesses listed on Google Maps, fraudulent listings take up about 7.3% of all businesses on Google Maps. Using a combination of Google’s own internal system and flagged listings by users, Google has been working to decrease the appearance of fake listings. Last year alone, Google took down over 3 million fake listings but fake listings continue to grow year after year.
Why are people making fake listings? We have some thoughts.
- Competitors: There are cases will the competition will create fake listings in order to provide consumers with inaccurate contact information.
- Scammers: Some people are creating fake listings to scam people, like the woman profiled in the WSJ article who unknowingly hired a fake contractor off Google and charged her double.
Fake listings are causing consumers to lose trust in Google Maps and the real businesses that rely on GMB to acquire customers, which is why it’s so important that Google is making updates to combat fake listings.
GMB New Features & Google Maps Update
Google’s recent Google My Business update includes several features that are designed to help both consumers and Google distinguish fake business listings from the real ones. This update introduces some features that reward active and accurate businesses:
- Logo Feature: Google is rewarding businesses who complete their NAPWCHD information by displaying the business’ logo to the right of their profile. This will help consumers identify real listings from fake ones.
- Cover Photos: It looks like Google is giving back the power to choose a cover photo to the business. We wrote in the past on how Google controls the cover photo, not the business – we’re happy to see Google give businesses control over their cover photo again.
- Photo Displays: Google is introducing a new module that will prominently display photos uploaded by the business.
- Welcome Offers: Businesses can now reward customers who follow the business’ GMB profile with custom discounts or offers.
- Short Name Searchability: Coming soon, consumers will be able to search for a business by their short name. If you have yet to claim your short name, read our blog on how to choose and claim your Google short name.
- Offline Marketing Materials: Google launched a new website that allows businesses to purchase offline marketing materials like stickers, posters and other items that are generated from GMB profile content.
Source: GMB Marketing Kit
Coming Soon: Google will be highlighting the top 5% of GMB profiles in a particular category as a “Local Favorite”. These businesses will earn both digital and physical badges of honor. This is Google’s way of recognizing brands who “consistently deliver a great experience for people”.
If these latest updates sound a little familiar, you’re not alone. Google seems to be taking inspiration from other similar applications. Welcome offers are a page straight out of Yelp’s playbook and we’ve all seen the favorite lists and business stickers from Yelp and TripAdvisor before. As for the short name searchability and following a business features, that has social media written all over it. Google is clearly dedicated to becoming a consumer’s one and only source for business information.
How to Take Advantage of New GMB Features & Latest Google Updates
Google has made one thing clear with these most recent updates – the businesses who actively update and maintain their GMB profiles will be rewarded. Show you’re active on GMB by doing the following:
- Respond to all your reviews.
- Participate in Google Q&A.
- Utilize Google Posts to updates, deals, and events.
- Implement a Listing Management platform to stay on top of it all.
For multi-location brands or agencies working with many small businesses, maintaining multiple GMB profiles is impossible without the help of a listing management platform like Chatmeter. Chatmeter’s platform relentlessly monitors your local business listings across hundreds of directories and offers recommendations for optimization. With 25% of the Google Search Ranking Factors coming from GMB signals, keeping your GMB profile up-to-date is one of the biggest factors in a brand’s online visibility.
Want to see how your GMB profile compares? Try our Free Instant Brand Audit!
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