Your Competitors Can Edit Your Listing On Google My Business

Here is a video overview for this post:

In today’s post, we are going to talk about the “Suggest an Edit” feature that Google displays on your Google My Business listing and how it works. 

Did you know that anyone can go and suggest changes to the information displayed on your Google My Business listing?  

It might seem crazy, but it is also true.  

In fact, anyone (including your competitors) that go to your Google My Business listing can click the “suggest an edit” link and then type in all sorts of edits to the information that is displayed on your Google My Business listing about your company, without your consent.  

 

And we are not talking about trivial information either.  

We are talking about information that is critical to your business, such as how your business name is displayed, your hours of operation, phone number, the products you offer, even whether your business is permanently closed or not. All of these pieces of information are fair game to anyone who wants to try and make changes to your business information by clicking the “Suggest an edit” link.  

This means that it is vitally important for you as the owner of your Google My Business listing to know what the “suggest an edit” feature is and how it works so that you can maintain control over the information that is being displayed to the public about your business.  

Spammers, competitors, disgruntled individuals, and pretty much anyone else can try and make suggestions to your listing. This means that if you are not paying attention to your Google My Business listing, you can end up accidentally displaying incorrect information about your business to potential customers. This can then lead to you getting unexpected negative reviews, turned-off customers, and a drop in your online rankings. Read on to learn more.  

What is Google My Business?

Ok, first let’s take a very brief step back and make sure that you know what Google My Business is in the first place (if you already know what it is then skip to the next section below).  

Google My Business is a free tool that Google provides. It lets you display your business information on Google Search and Google Maps. In a nutshell, the point of having a Google My Business listing is so that when customers search on Google for the products and services that you provide then they will be able to find you. 

What you have to do in order to get started with Google My Business is you first need to claim your Google My Business listing. Then you need to go through Google’s verification process to verify you are the real owner of the business. Finally you need to fill out and optimize your Google My Business profile with your business details.  

According to Google’s website, “verified businesses on Google are twice as likely to be considered reputable by users.”  

This means that it is very important that business owners verify their Google My Business listing and maintain accurate information so customers are able to contact you, find your location and see the services you provide.  

If you want to get the complete story about what Google My Business is and how it works, then here is a link to Google’s full documentation about it click here. If you get confused, need help, or don’t want to set up your Google My Business profile yourself, let us know, we can do it for you. It’s one of the services we provide. 

Ok, enough about that…onward.  

What Is the Google “Suggest an Edit” and How Does It Work?

Here is the answer.  

It is very simple. When people come to your Google My Business listing, there is a public link displayed on the listing that says “Suggest an edit.” People can click the link and start filling out the pieces of information that they would like to see changed about your business. Here’s an example of what it looks like:  

For instance, someone can click the “Suggest an edit” link to report your business as being permanently closed, your hours of operation have changed, or that you have a different phone number than what is displayed, etc.  

According to Google, “To keep your Business Profile as accurate as possible, Google uses information from a variety of sources. For example, user reports and licensed content. If sources report the information provided by business owners as incorrect or outdated, the profile will get updates from Google. You can review all such updates.” 

Google also says that it “can update your profile at any time.”   

What this all means is that you could wake up one day and realize that Google has made changes to the information being displayed on your Google My Business listing that you didn’t want. 

  • The good thing is that Google uses these suggestions to make the business information better and more accurate. At least in theory. Because if users are all suggesting edits to listings, that would mean the information that’s out there continues to get updated.  
  • But on the other hand, how does Google actually know what is, and what is not, accurate suggestions? And how would Google know if your competitor was the one attempting the edits vs a well-intentioned person. The way I see it, the fact that any random person (including your competitors) can come to your listing and try to recommend changes to Google is a powerful reason to be vigilant about your Google My Business listing. 

Here’s an example to illustrate.  

  • What if someone mistakenly suggests your business closes at 10pm, when you really close at 9pm. If Google accepts that edit and displays the wrong time,  people could show up to your business after you’ve closed because “Google said you were open…” 
  • Or what if someone recommended you that you offer a service or product that you really don’t. 

Can my Competitors Edit My Google My Business Listing?

The answer is yes, a competitor can make changes to your Google My Business listing. They can go to the “Suggest an Edit” feature just like anyone else could and try to make edits.  

Think about it, what if they marked your business as being permanently closed or suggested changes to your phone # and hours of operations.  

Even though we don’t want to think something like this could happen, I can tell you from direct experience that unfortunately it can happen. 

Anybody (including total strangers, disgruntled individuals, competitors, etc.) can click on “suggest and edit” and type in what they think the information on your listing should really say and then send that to Google for their review. 

What happens when you suggest an edit on Google?

When someone clicks “Suggest an edit” Google will open a pop-up box to decide what information to edit. Here is how it looks when you try and do it. 

After that, the user just has to select the specific information that they want to suggest edits to and then type what they want to see changed. It is a straightforward process that is relatively easy. Here is an image to show you:  

After the user submits the edits, they are sent to Google for review to decide whether or not to implement the changes in real life. If you read Google’s documentation, Google is vague about if they will make the changes and how long it will take before the edits are put into effect. It is purely at their discretion.  

Which leads me to my next point… 

How Will I Know That Someone Has Suggested Edits To My Google My Business?

They way that you will know is that after Google decides that the submitted suggestions are relevant, they will email the owner of the listing to alert them that the changes will be taking effect soon.  

 

In addition to the email that they send out, Google will display the suggestions in the Google My Business dashboard in different colors. Here’s what that looks like according to Google:  

  • Orange: New data from Google. 
  • Orange: Data removed by Google. 
  • Gray: Data replaced by Google. (New data shows in orange.) 
  • Black or white: No updates from Google. 

When you login to your Google My Business dashboard and click on info, you’ll see the changes displayed along the top. Here is what that looks like.  

 

Fortunately, you can reject or accept the changes, but if you ignore them or don’t see them, Google will proceed with making the edits. (Better check your email!) 

Is suggesting an edit on Google anonymous?

Yes. The owner of the listing will not be able to tell who is making edits to their Google My Business listing. All they will see is a notice from Google sent to their email as well as displayed in their Google My Business account that does not explain where the edits came from.  

How long does it take Google to review and edit?

Google does not provide a time frame. According to their support article hereit just says it “might take some time” for the updates to happen, if they happen at all.  

Here’s the Point: Know What’s Going On

People are searching online every day for services like yours. This means it is extremely important that they find accurate information about your company.  

But it also means that your business can be at risk to your listing not being accurate. Stay vigilant about your Google My Business listing and be proactive about the nature of the information that you are putting out there on the internet.  

If you need help managing or setting up your Google My Business listing, the team here at Attractional Marketing can handle it for you. Google My Business Verification and Optimization is one of the services we manage. We will claim and verify your Google My Business listing, optimize it so the information is complete and we can monitor it on an ongoing basis to make sure the information does not change. Please Contact us today to find out more about our local SEO services. 

  

Attractional Marketing is a marketing management and lead generation business that is based in Birmingham, AL. We manage your marketing, so you don’t have to. To learn more about our services, click here. 

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