Lately, we’ve been reading reports of Google My Business hijacks affecting several businesses. Thankfully, none of our customers has reported any severe hijacking incidents but we’ve seen some big third party delivery services ‘hijack’ listings which are difficult to take out from your details. Google says that they’re constantly investigating reports and reinstating accounts should they be suspended – but non-GMB users should also stay on the lookout too.
So what do we know so far?
Hard Google My Business Hijacks
Many GMB phishing attempts are glaringly obvious and these are most often the reason why GMB listings get hijacked.
The ‘Own this business?’ option on your listing’s Knowledge Graph allows virtually anyone to request access from you to control your Google My Business. While this can be helpful for legitimately claiming listings that were created by others outside your company, it can be troublesome when exploited by GMB phishers.
When someone requests access to claim your business, you could soon be a victim of a hijack. We’ve read around that simply ignoring the email would suffice.
But that’s not true.
Solution: Open the email and opt to reject their request.
When you get notified via email that someone is requesting accesses, do not ignore or delete the email altogether. If you do, access will eventually be granted to the would-be hijacker.
You can also reduce the number of managers you have on your Google My Business listing. They could accidentally accept the request and it will be hard to pin-point who actually did it.
‘Soft’ Google My Business Hijacks
We’ve seen it in our own customers and we’ve talked about it to them in depth.
One of our clients has cafe businesses around the world, even in Australia. Recently, we noticed that there is a Deliveroo or Grubhub ad in their
Google sometimes allows, either knowingly or unknowingly, big third party services softly hijack GMB listings by offering delivery links. Per our customer, this was hard to delete.
Solution: Directly talk to the delivery site and tell them you’re opting out.
This can be tricky, based on our experience. Naturally, our customer wanted to take out the ‘Order ahead’ option because it wasn’t at all part of their listing. Our experts created a workaround which involved reporting to Google and then to the delivery website to have the option deleted.
The website in question, however, wasn’t playing fair. They were unresponsive or if they did reply, they denied doing it in the first place, so we had to revert to Google and show them our evidence. Eventually, the delivery site remove their link on our customers GMB listings. We also learned that such providers have a partnership with Google. If you believe that your business does not have any relation with those websites, you may opt out.
Remember: if you see a link that doesn’t look right on your listing, it could be a ‘soft’ hijack. Report immediately to Google and to the website and urge them to take the link off your listing.
Accidental Google My Business Hijacks
There are times that it’s really not out of malice that a Google My Business listing gets hijacked.
If a company is merging duplicate listings, there is a ‘hijacking’ that takes place. Either a third party of Google itself will flag a location as a duplicate and will merge the location together into one listing. When this happens, there will be different pieces of information from both listings.
This is an uncommon situation but it’s good to prepare yourself for just about anything. And most of the time this is a failure of GMB support as they shouldn’t have merged the two locations in the first place.
Solution: You might have to delete the duplicated listing and re-verify your location.
If this isn’t resolved by contacting Google Support, you’ll need to do another verification process which, we understand, can be such a time-waster. Currently there is no workaround this situation but this situation doesn’t always happen.
How to Avoid Google My Business Hijacks?
It’s imperative that you claim your Google My Business listing immediately – we have more reasons why you need to do so – to prevent any hijacks in the future. Make sure your listing is verified as well and regularly maintain your business information. When someone is asking to claim your business, decline access request and continue monitoring your GMB listing. Show to Google that you’re on top of everything before asking them for support.
If you want better security with ongoing customer support, you can sign up for a DigitalMaas account. We’re in the business of making your online listings rank high in SERPs but we’re also here for you when you experience any hijacks or other situations that can compromise your online reputation. Stay safe and secure with the DigitalMaas Platform today!