It’s not enough to simply set up a ‘Google My Business’ listing, you also need to maintain your profile’s quality to build trust with customers. Where business owners often run into trouble is when they have a “set it and forget it” mentality. However, if you don’t regularly maintain your Google business listing, you’re opening up your business to a variety of problems like incorrect information, hacking, false reviews, and more. Not only can your Google business listing build (or break) trust with customers, it’s also a key component to local SEO. If you’re unfamiliar with local SEO, check out “The Ultimate Guide for Enhancing Your Local SEO
” to learn how this powerhouse SEO strategy can help you attract and keep more customers for your local business.
If you read our guide, you’ll see how important it is to set up and optimize your Google My Business listing for local SEO (it’s the first one on the list!). In this article, we’ll explain what can go wrong when you don’t maintain your Google business listing and actions you can take to ensure quality and build trust with customers.
Problem #1: Wrong Business Name
It may be tempting to add keywords to the name on your Google business listing, but you’ll end up hurting your business. Not only does Google dislike keyword stuffing, having a different name on your Google business listing then what’s on your website, business cards, etc. will confuse customers. Even if you’re not adding unnecessary keywords in your Google listing’s business name, make sure that the spelling is accurate and the name matches your real-world business title.
Review your business name on your Google business listing and make any necessary changes to ensure that there isn’t any keyword stuffing, it’s consistent with other places you display the business name, and the spelling is accurate. For more information, check out Google’s guidelines for representing your business on Google
Problem #2: Hijacking
There have been many cases where a Google business listing has been maliciously edited or hijacked by a competitor, angry customer, or another third party. When you don’t regularly monitor your listing, you won’t be able to quickly catch the hijacking and take steps to fix your listing. Customers who see the inaccurate information will be confused about your business or lose faith that you know how to conduct business.
According to Google, if you come across misleading information or fraudulent activity related to the name, phone number, or URL of a business, you can use their Business Redressal Complaint Form
to submit a complaint. Google will review the complaints in accordance with their guidelines, however, they can’t guarantee any action will be taken on your complaint. Also, you won’t be updated on the complaint’s status so that’s something else to keep in mind.
Another action you can take is to ask the volunteers in the Google My Business Help Community
for guidance on resolving the hijacking. Unfortunately, lots of business have encountered this issue, but the silver lining is that they may be able to tell you what they did to fix their listing. To decrease the chances of hijacking, make sure to claim any Google My Business listing for your company.
Problem #3: Fake Reviews
There are several types of fake reviews to keep your eye out: fake reviews from competitors, fake reviews from angry customers, and fake reviews from the business itself. While all fake reviews are bad, fake negative reviews from competitors and ex-customers will hurt your business because customers rely on reviews to make purchase decisions. When a business owner and staff members leave fake positive reviews, that’s also bad too because you’re misleading customers. If customers find out that your business is behind the positive reviews, they’ll lose trust in your business.
Falsifying reviews is illegal and can result in hefty fines from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) if you’re in the United States. Check out the FTC’s Consumer Review Fairness Act
for guidelines on how businesses can comply with the law. If your business receives fake reviews, make sure to screenshot and document all of them, then flag the review by using one of the methods below.
Google has strict views on what they consider negative vs. fake reviews and it’s ultimately their decision whether or not to remove reviews. If Google doesn’t remove the review(s), you can report the review(s) to ReviewFraud.org
. For especially egregious cases, you may need to contact an attorney for further recommended actions.
While fake reviews from others can hurt your business, also remember that posting your own fake reviews can cause damage too. To keep on the right side of the FTC, Google, and other review platforms, make sure you:
- Don’t review your own business (this goes for past and present staff too)
- Don’t review your competitors
- Don’t incentivize reviews
- Don’t post reviews on behalf of anyone else
- Don’t hire any business or use any review management software that violates the platform’s guidelines
Problem #4: Bad Photos
Photos are one of the most prominent aspects of a Google business listing which is why it’s crucial to have quality photos. While you have control over the photos you upload to your listing, you don’t have much control of what reviewers post. Another issue that can pop up with photos is not removing outdated photos (old logos, previous business location, discontinued products, etc.) because it can confuse customers.
Upload high-quality photos to your Google business listing, preferably shot by a professional photographer rather a cell phone. Delete any outdated photos as well as photos that have a triangular warning signal which means there’s something wrong with the photo.
If a reviewer posts an image that accurately represents your place of business or product, don’t try to remove the review, instead, fix the issue so other reviewers don’t post similar photos. Respond to the reviewer by identifying yourself as the business owner and explain what you’ve done to correct the problem. Then, add lots of high-quality photos to your listing to lessen the impact of the negative photo.
However, if the reviewer’s photo violates Google’s guidelines, report the user in the Google My Business Help Community and request that the profile be removed for not adhering to Google’s guidelines. When you report the user, make sure to include their profile URL (you can find this by clicking on the user’s name and then copying the URL).
Problem #5: Wrong Hours
One of the most frustrating things for customers, which is also one of the easiest ways to lose them, is when a business says it’s open during certain hours and they show up to the business only to find out that it’s closed. Don’t make it harder for customers to do business with you by having inconsistent or inaccurate business hours on your listing.
Review your business listing’s hours and make sure that they’re consistent with your real-world business hours and that your website also shows the same hours. Also, include any holiday hours and other special hours for planned closings like renovations, private events, etc. Check out Google’s tutorial for setting special hours
to ensure your listing always displays the correct information.
Problem #6: Unattended Google Q&A
Google allows users to ask questions on business listings through their Google Q&A feature, but when left unchecked, it can cause more confusion and dissatisfaction. Since Google Q&A allows anyone to answer the questions, someone not associated with the business can respond with an unhelpful or inaccurate answer. Take charge of the conversation rather than leaving it up to chance.
First, monitor your Google Q&A and respond to users promptly. Although Google Q&A has the potential for misuse, when you monitor it and give users helpful and authoritative responses, it can be an asset for lead generation and conversions. Unlike Google’s guidelines for reviews, you’re allowed to post and answer your own FAQs. Simply add common questions and responses to your business listing’s Google Q&A to reap the benefits of this feature.
Don’t Let Your Google Business Listing Go to Waste
While Google My Business is an essential component for local SEO, your listing is also a powerful tool for communicating with customers and gaining their trust. Monitoring your business listing, however, does require you to be proactive; it’s understandable if you don’t have the time or dedicated personnel to do that. SMT would be happy to set up, optimize, and monitor your Google business listing so you can concentrate on serving customers and managing your business. Call our office at 407-682-2222 or fill out the contact form
to learn more about our local SEO services.