Help us Fight Spammy Google Listings with this Little-Known Feature!

By Adam D.
Digital Marketing Guide
Magnified Media

Google has had a way for vigilant business owners to help curb the tide of fake listings for several years. It is the “Suggest an Edit” feature under every Google My Business listing. This article will show you how to use Google’s ‘Suggest an Edit’ feature and why it is so important for local businesses.

Help us Fight Spammy Google Listings with this Little-Known Feature. Here's how to get started!

Chances are you saw the recent article in the Wall Street Journal accusing Google of turning a blind eye to millions of fake Google maps listings; listings that are actually lead-generating businesses used to displace real businesses in Google search results. Google responded by immediately suspending  thousands of real businesses across the country.

 

Suspensions reviews by Google which usually take 2-3 days now are forecasted as 2-3 weeks, with some suspensions getting a notice the suspension is an “internal technical issue” they are working on with no timeline for correction. These listings are incredibly important as they provide an at-a-glance snapshot of a business in a busy world where people making buying decisions based on a) whether they can find your business at all and b) what others are saying about you.

With that being said, Google has had a way for vigilant business owners to help curb the tide of fake listings for several years. It is the “Suggest an Edit” feature under every Google My Business listing. You may have never noticed this link as it isn’t very prominent, but in our experience it is a powerful tool to protect your niche in your city against fake listings. Why are fake listings terrible for real businesses? Of course they deceive customers - unsuspecting people who just want their sink fixed or their estate plan done correctly.  They also devalue trust in Google results, which for anyone interested in marketing should pique your interest. This article will show you how to use Google’s ‘Suggest an Edit’ feature and why it is so important for local businesses.

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"Current wait times are 2-3 weeks..."

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"result of a technical issue"? WTF!?

Important side note and a big warning. We’ve noticed that as of late June 2019 ANY changes made to the Info panel of your Google My Business dashboard is resulting in an instant suspension. Using the “suggest an edit” feature for your own business is a workaround we’ve found to avoid these instant suspensions.  Suspensions in the past have taken 2-3 days to be reinstated but now are taking anywhere from 2 weeks to never...

 

All images in this article are from the desktop. Of course using a mobile to perform these actions is similar but there may be some minor differences. This article is accurate as of July 2019, that being said Google is an ever changing platform so all of this may disappear tomorrow!

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1) Sign in to Google

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Really Google? Really?

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Step 1: Sign in to your Google account. 

You can confirm you’re signed in if you see your profile pic in the top right of your browser when visiting a Google property like YouTube, Google Search, Gmail, etc.

 

Step 2: Do a search of your service category and your city name. 

Check out the Google Local 3 Pack and rejoice if your business is there! Click on More Results and start exploring the other businesses listed. Many times you can easily spot the fakes. Any business that is keyword stuffing the title of their business (ie. “Estate Planning, Dental Clinic, AC Repair - Dewey, Cheatum & Howe Las Vegas Legal Services”) should catch your eye. These are flagrant violations of Google’s Terms of Service.

 

Step 3: Click on that business’ listing, then scroll until you see “suggest an edit.”

Click on that link and choose “Fix name.” Fix the name, eliminating the keywords. You might also want to check out their website, location on street view (we’ve seen parking lots, post offices, schools, even police departments!), and category.  If you spot anything that is incorrect then go back to suggest an edit and enter the correct information.

 

You can also report locations as fake, spam or out of business. Since there are now millions of fake listings siphoning off unsuspecting customers to fake businesses you will definitely find at least a few of these. If you’re bored you can even check out and flag their reviews. (Look for the three ••• next to the review and click on Flag this review.) Although not mentioned in many articles, fake reviews on Google are also rampant and for the most part extremely easy to spot.

 

What Happens When You Suggest an Edit?

When you submit the edits to Google you will get an email once they have taken action. The owner of the listing will also get a notification in the gmail account associated with the account. They can choose to ignore the edit, refuse it or input the correct information. 

Click on Suggest an Edit!

Meet Adam Duran 

Adam heads up Magnified Media, an online marketing agency specializing in local SEO for businesses and small companies throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.  In his volunteer time he runs the Delta Education Foundation (a non-profit which coordinates all the after school classes in schools throughout the Delta region) and DeltaLAX, the area’s first youth lacrosse league. In his spare time you can find him taking jiu-jitsu with his daughter or courtside at his son’s tennis matches sweating profusely.

 

Sources

  1. https://www.wsj.com/articles/google-maps-littered-with-fake-business-listings-harming-consumers-and-competitors-11561042283

  2. https://support.google.com/business/answer/3038177?hl=en

  3. https://support.google.com/business/answer/4596773?hl=en

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