How to Protect Your Google Business Listing from Malicious Tampering

  • By Jackie Petre
  • 28 Sep, 2016

Map Hackers!

The Local Search Ecosystem

In a recent article on Wired.com, a local business owner complains that the malicious placement of bad information on his Google+Local (G+L) business listing caused his restaurant to fail. An anonymous Google Maps editor had changed the listed business hours from "open" to "closed" on for Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays. Business dropped off steadily for months, until the owner was forced to close its doors.

While there may have been other reasons the business closed, the complaint highlights a trend in modern life: searchers (most relevantly, prospective customers) immediately trust the information given to them by the search engine. For business owners, this means that keeping the most visible business information up-to-date -- the G+L listing in particular -- is a high priority.  Remember, Google's aim is to replace hardcopy YellowPages-style directories completely and become the end-all be-all knowledge base, and they're doing a pretty good job -- from both user-trust and richness-of-information perspectives.

Think about it: If a G+L listing links to a defunct website, the searcher will probably find another listing that's attached to a website with the information they're looking for. If a walk-in lead drives the half-hour out to your business's old (but still listed) location, only to find an empty building... There's a good chance they're going to drive to someone else's business. The searcher trusts what Google gives them, and if it give them bad information they blame the business instead of Google.

Unfortunately for business owners (and maybe fortunately for Google and search marketing providers!), the local "ecosystem" is anything but static; updating the business information isn't a "once and done" task. Data aggregators like Acxiom and InfoGroup feed business listing information to 1st tier directories, and those directories feed it to lower-tier directories. Google, in turn, harvests this information many sources, and algorithmically decides what the most accurate information is, based on this input.

Claim and update your G+L listing. Check it at least once-per-month to verify the business information hasn't been helpfully "updated" by Google, or tampered with by malicious editors. And while you're there, it wouldn't hurt to post a quick friendly message to greet any prospective customers that find their way to the listing...

A skilled local citation builder knows where to put his attention to mitigate this effect, to keep disinformation from getting out into the system. Consistent monitoring of the directories that people actually use is vital in an age of trusted instant information and plenty of negative SEO tricks and techniques (like ones mentioned in the article) to defend against.

The Science Behind Digital Marketing

By Jackie Petre 16 Aug, 2017

Everywhere you look nowadays, people have their eyes glued to their cell phones. Between text messaging, taking photos and browsing social media, it’s hard to keep the attention of anyone under the age of 50 for more than a few minutes if their phone is nearby. That’s exactly why marketers started jumping at the opportunity to be right where they wanted to be: a few inches away from their target’s face on a cell phone screen.

In recent years, many small businesses--especially those that use a scheduling system of some sort—have started utilizing SMS (short message service, aka text messaging) as a form of marketing and communication with clients. SMS marketing is an immediate form of communication that has the capability of reaching a largescale audience within seconds, something that emails and phone calls can’t compare to anymore. And with 75% of millennials in a recent survey choosing texting over talking, it makes sense that SMS marketing is a tool small businesses need to start utilizing.

By Jackie Petre 09 Aug, 2017

When was the last time you pulled out your phone to find a nearby restaurant or coffee shop? Probably pretty recently. And when you did, what phrases did you type into the search engine? Probably something along the lines of ‘Mexican restaurant near me,’ or ‘nearby coffee shop.’ With more and more people using their mobile devices to perform Internet searches on-the-go, there has been an increase in usage of the phrase ‘near me.’

And this doesn’t just apply to food searches.

People are searching for specific services using the terms ‘near me’ in industries of all kinds. This simple change in search terms can give users better search results, and can market your business in a wider area. However, this isn’t something Google can do on its own; first, you need to make sure your company’s website is optimized for ‘near me’ searches.

By Jackie Petre 03 Aug, 2017

Google’s latest technological asset for businesses has recently launched, and it’s a game-changer for small businesses that are just starting out. It’s called Google Sites.

For those who have a business but are just figuring out the best way to establish an online presence, Google Sites might be the tool for you. This feature, provided by the search engine, allows business owners to build and manage a mini website on their own, all without the help of a programming professional. It’s not a high-tech website, but for those looking to make basic information about their company and services available to the public, Sites can get the job done.

Anyone who runs a Google My Business account —which should be all business owners—can access this feature and create a mini site in as little as ten minutes. Plus, everything is done through Google, so when you make a change to your local listing, such as updating business hours, the changes will automatically be updated on your website, too. For a small business owner, saving valuable time like this adds up.

Sounds pretty great, huh?

By Jackie Petre 27 Jul, 2017

When you look at your business’s website, are you proud of the way your company is represented? Do you feel like your level of work is accurately portrayed through your photos, web design and site optimization? If you can’t stand using your own site, chances are that your customers won’t either. But before you give up on your company’s online presence, consider the difference your business could see when your website is gaining you new clients rather than repelling them.

When it comes to your company’s online presence, your website can go one of two ways: either it can help your business, or it can hurt your business.
By Jackie Petre 26 Jul, 2017
While it’s obviously important to have quality images of your products or service jobs on your website, you don’t want to overlook the content portion of your site , particularly in the form of descriptions. Providing the visitor with detailed product and service descriptions gives a better idea of what to expect when working with you.
By Jackie Petre 20 Jul, 2017

The purpose of a call-to-action (CTA) is, first and foremost, to provide an instruction to website visitors to contact you immediately, as well as a reason why. It tells them what they will gain from working with you and motivates them to take action to make that happen. Therefore, a good CTA will invoke the customer to contact you on the spot. 

Here's how you can create the perfect call-to-action that will have consumers off your site and in your office. 

By Jackie Petre 17 Jul, 2017

SEO. There it is, that daunting acronym. If you’ve done any research whatsoever about having a successful website, you know that SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is the foundation of an effective site. It means that your website does a good job of incorporating a bunch of elements, like specific keywords, location and load time, making it easy for people to find your site when they’re searching for local services like yours.

For the sake of keeping this at a basic level, we won’t delve too deep into SEO and how it works . But there are a few parts of it that you can easily incorporate into your website that can help immensely.
By Jackie Petre 11 Jul, 2017

One of the quickest ways you can drive people off of your site is by having an unresponsive website. You might be wondering what makes a website responsive or unresponsive, and what you can do to change that. This all starts with the most important part of your website: your web design.

There are so many elements that factor into website design, and if you don’t utilize your site’s design, your online presence has the ability to hurt your business.

By Jackie Petre 06 Jul, 2017

When it comes to marketing your business online, making your business’s website reflect your brand is an absolute must in any service-based industry. It’s what sets you apart from your competition, establishes your credibility and shows people why you are the best choice for them.

Metric Marketing’s “ Guide to The Importance of Branding in Your Marketing ” breaks branding down to a simple definition:

By Jackie Petre 28 Jun, 2017

Online reviews have been around a while. But in the past few years, they’ve increasingly become more important than ever, and the statistics to support its relevancy are overwhelming. Think about it: when you are considering buying a product on Amazon or searching for a restaurant to go to, do you ever look at the reviews to help make your decision? The answer, most likely, is yes.

Today, you can find just about anything online, whether that’s a product or a service, and everyone out there is in the business of marketing. Oftentimes, it’s hard to tell if the images and descriptions are really what you’re getting, or if you’re being scammed. But when we see online reviews from real people just like ourselves who are willing to testify for this brand, it gives us peace of mind that we’re making the right decision.

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