As people know, Google My Business is a free tool that you can use to promote and expand the reach of your business through Local Search. Using GMB can allow you to have an Embedded Listing for search terms that surround your business, location, and industry which is great for additional promotion. However, a common question that people ask “Can Somebody Steal Your Google My Business Listing?”.
“Can Somebody Steal Your Google My Business Listing?” is something that people commonly ask in regards to being secure within a business listing. Like anything digital, there is always worry about listings being hacked and stolen, however GMB can be easily stolen if it’s not setup correctly!
Google My Business is a Free Platform that you can use to expand your business online, however if not setup correctly and fully, it can also become a risk. When you create a listing, it needs to be verified. However, you can operate a listing unverified which is what some people do, but it can cause some issues.
Building your listing is only one part of the listing, you also need to verify the listing too which can be done through the setup of your listing. However, if you don’t verify your listing, then you’ll find that people can Claim your listing, which causes issues for you online.
Can Somebody Steal Your Google My Business Listing?
If your Google My Business Listing hasn’t been verified as part of your Setup Process, then your Listing can indeed be stolen by another user. As a result, they can access your listing and change the information such as the phone number or website address to their own. This means that if your listing is ranking high in the map pack, somebody else could be stealing your leads.
Verification plays a huge part of Google My Business and while you can operate in a basic way without verification, you do need to verify your listing in it’s entirety. Stolen Listings happen on a regular basis and as a result, businesses lose top positions and service specific rankings to other people.
But how is it done? How do people steal your listings and pose as their own business? How are people moving the nddle with their own business as a result of the google feature?
Claiming An Unverified Listing
As mentioned above, Stealing Listings is done through claiming an unverified listing within the GMB platform. This is really easy to do and finding the unverified listings is just as easily done too. This is due to the way that Google show unverified listings to other users when you click through the GMB Results.
As the image shows above, when you click onto a listing that is unverified, you may see one of two options. The first option is “Own This Business?” and the second option is “Claim This Business”. These options vary depending on where and how you are looking at the listing.
Once you have found a listing that is unverified, you can register to claim the listing and business. This is done by selecting the shown option and filling in some information that may prove ownership of the business and listing. Once submitted, you have to wait 7 days for the current owner to verify that they own the listing.
If the current owner doesn’t verify their own the listing, then the listing becomes yours. This is how easy Google have made it to hijack listings and use number 1 position, unverified listings to their advantage.
How Does The GMB Claiming Feature Work?
The claiming feature works by highlighting unverified listings to other users. The idea behind it is that if you click onto a listing of your business that you haven’t setup, you can claim the listing as it belongs to your business. However, the listing needs to be unverified to follow this process.
Google have changed the way verification works over the last couple of years and you now need to have a Postcard delivered to your business address to verify that you own the listing. Before, you could verify through Email or Phone but people were able to verify as many listings and they like.
Due to Verification being that bit more difficult, users often don’t go to the effort of verifying a listing anymore. This means that while their listing operates, it doesn’t operate completely. Also, the correct owner can verify and take their listing back to work on their own business as the real owner.
Find out more about GMB Listings being stolen in a video here.
How To Prevent Your Google My Business Listing Being Stolen
Knowing how a Google My Business Listing can be stolen is great, but knowing how to prevent your Google My Business listing being stolen is important. While listings are being verified from underneath people every day, knowing how to prevent it can stop any potential interruptions of your listing.
This is important, especially if you generate a lot of business through Google My Business as people verifying listings from under you could result in your flow of work and leads being stopped. However, being your listing safe from being stolen is a lot easier than you may think!
Now preventing your listing from being stolen through verification is the idea behind this explanation. People can still access your listing through logging into your Google Account etc, however this prevents the public accessing your listing.
Verify Your GMB Listing
The main way to prevent any Google My Business listing from being stolen is to verify the listing. This can be done by logging into a GMB listing and you will see a notice somewhere about verifying your listing, select this option and you will most likely be asked to verify by postcard.
Proceed and follow through the options of verification and make sure that you do everything asked such as inputting the code on your postcard. You will soon be greeted by a message saying that your listing is now verified. This means that you have done everything asked and that the listing now belongs to you.
This should prevent anybody else taking your listing and verifying it as their own, making it more secure to use Google My Business to drive traffic to your business and website.
Add The Correct Information
Alongside verifying your listing, you also need to add the correct information. This information such as Telephone Number, Address, Website is vital to adding authority to your listing. Google My Business often suspends listings that look like spam. These listings often contain no information, no images and more.
While people verifying your listing is a worry for a lot of GMB users, Google suspending your listing can also result in your listing going elsewhere, meaning that your business is no longer showing online. You don’t need to add hours worth of content, just some basic information will do.
Just ensure that your business is as human as possible. If you work with somebody who manages your listing then it should be verified and full of targeted content, if not, rehire!
Check Your Connected Email Address
Alongside ensuring that it can’t be stolen through your listing, you may also need to check your connected email address. When somebody goes to verify your listing and claim it, you will get an email from Google. From when you get this email, you have 7 days to respond to the email to defend your listing, if not it will be given to whoever is trying to verify.
However, if you don’t regularly check your inbox or have notifications for new emails, you may miss the email from Google. This means that the listing will be taken out of your control and given to the new owner, which is everything you don’t want. You want to keep ownership of your listing.
So if your GMB Email is a different email to the one you regularly use, change it. Make sure that you are ready for anybody attempting to claim your listing as this is essential.
So, Can Somebody Steal Your Google My Business Listing?
If your listing isn’t verified or set up properly, then indeed somebody can steal your Google My Business Listing. It’s commonly seen within the Digital Marketing Space from people trying to get a leg up on the competition. It’s a commonly used tactic for people to grow and push their way up the rankings.
Just ensure that your listing is verified properly, with the right information and you should be safe from your listing being hijacked. Also make sure that you check through your emails once per week too, prevent anybody accessing any listings.
If your listing is unverified, then people can indeed claim your listing. A way to prevent this is to just verify your listing. Google require you to verify your listing through Postcard, which only takes a couple of days to do.
Nothing will fully prevent your listing being claimed or stolen, however verification can help to prevent it from happening as easily.
People claiming GMB Listings is most common in niches and industries with more competition than usual.
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