Be Vigilant: Google Business Listings Easily Hijacked

Be Vigilant: Google Business Listings Easily Hijacked

I recently came across an SEO agency owner alerting the community to an unfortunate loophole in Google’s systems that let an overseas SEO agency hijack their verified Google My Business listing.

The business owner checked on their Google My Business listing, only to find that the phone number had been changed to that of an overseas “SEO agency”. You know the type.

The likely explanation highlights a failure in Google’s My Business system. The overseas agency submitted a high number of “report an error in this listing” tickets, purportedly correcting the phone number. The phone number was revised once some report threshold was reached.

What didn’t happen that should have happened: the listing’s owner should have been notified about the reported change. I’m a big fan of the way Facebook approaches situations like this. The owner is notified of the change and given some time to approve or disapprove it, before the change is automatically pushed through.

GMB doesn’t notify the owner at all, unfortunately. I find this strange, given how straightforward the implementation would be, and the confidence with which Google could act with respect to verified listings.

The prescription is straightforward: review the information on your Google My Business listings periodically. Fixing the problem is as simple as making a revision and submitting it (though this will take a day or two to propagate). Since there is no notification, it’s on the listing owner to be proactive in preventing this abuse. It’s completely backwards (even egregiously, given how vital GMB listings areto local businesses), but that’s how it is.

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