Troubleshooting Google My Business Issues Q&A

Troubleshooting Google My Business Issues Q&A
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On Wednesday, September 27th, we gathered some of the brightest minds in local SEO to answer your burning questions about Google My Business.

We had such a tremendous response that we’ve split the webinar into two! The recording of Part 1, on Troubleshooting GMB Issues, can be found a little further down the page, and the recording of Part 2: GMB Strategies and Ranking Factors, can be found here.

Video: Troubleshooting Google My Business Issues Q&A, with Google Top Contributors

Want to jump to a particular question?

No problem! Just use the time-stamps below to find the correct point in the webinar!

Penalties

What is the quickest way to get a suspended listing reinstated? (2:40)

  • This is a very common question. It depends on the suspension type. There are two types of suspensions: soft suspension and hard suspension. A soft suspension is when it looks like the listing is unverified on Maps – it looks like you have to claim the listing. In a soft suspension you may have also received a suspension notice in GMB. In the case of a soft suspension, you should claim the listing in a new Google account and claim the GMB listing again – going through the verification process again. (Just make sure you meet all the guidelines.)
  • With a hard suspension, your listing is completely removed from Maps. This is because Google, a user or the algorithm decided that the business is not eligible to be on Maps. The most common reasons for a hard suspension is if you’re using a PO Box or virtual office, you have multiple listings for an address, you’re an online-only or ecommerce site, or if you create a business inside of another business. You don’t want to create a new listing in the case of a hard suspension. You can’t request a reinstatement. If you adhere to the guidelines, you can ask a Top Contributor for help.
  • There is also a third reason that isn’t well known. A listing is claimed in two accounts and one of those accounts gains precedence. If the second account is listed and still verified, you have to find out who owns that listing.

What advanced options are open to businesses if the usual steps don’t work? (6:26)

  • Go to the GMB forum and provide details and ask the top contributors why they got suspended. You could also hire someone to look at the situation and figure out what the issue is.
  • Is there an escalation opportunity within Google? Your best bet is to use the forum. If you use Google’s social channels to ask questions, you can get stuck. If you use the GMB forum and talk to a Top Contributor, the support team at Google will often listen to the Top Contributors and act.
  • If you’re posting information into the forum, make sure you include all the information/details about the problem so that people know the details/facts of the issues. That way people can help figure out the problem.

If GMB won’t restore a listing, should we create a new one, and how do we avoid getting suspended again? (10:20)

  • If you can’t get your listing restored, do not create a new one. Your competitors can report you again. It’s best to follow the guidelines.
  • Often if people are trying to get a listing restored, they will use the same location or use the same phone number. Google will look things up and if the information is similar or the same, the suspension will carry over to the new listing.
  • Google never throws any data away!
  • If you try to “trick” or “game” Google, you may get away with it for a while – but it will catch up with you eventually.

Google is really focusing on spam within certain industries (e.g. Rehab Centers). What other industries are they focused on and what can legitimate businesses do to keep/get their GMB listing? (14:11)

  • Google is focusing on home service ads that may be considered spam. Google removes any listings from local results that doesn’t have a storefront or physical address. Some examples are locksmiths, towing companies, plumbers, etc. Usually they are home-based businesses or any business that doesn’t do business at the location. Every home-based business should look at converting to a storefront.
  • Google reviews listing edits. One team looks at all the edits that come in. If there are a lot of edits coming in, then another team looks at them and looks for spam listings. Google focuses on certain industries because they can evaluate industry-specific listings and take down listings in a mass/bulk. Google will often cross-check listings with national industry associations to make sure the business is legitimate. As a result, if you don’t want to get caught up in this, you should try and be a part of industry associations and well-recognized industry organization or association.

Spam Reporting and Troubleshooting

What is the most effective way to report spam listings to get them removed? (19:00)

  • First make sure you’re submitting regular edits on Google Maps listing to build your authority so you can get rid of spam listings. You can make edits and review edits that other people make. That builds up YOUR authority. You can also report spam on the GMB forum or report on Google’s social media channels. Be clear WHY the listing is spam. The more detail you provide the better.
  • Everything is moderated by Google.
  • When you report to the GMB forum, be sure to include all the links and detailed information – that gets Google’s attention.
  • Google will prioritize requests based on the number of requests a listing gets.

When is it right to flag a spam listing as “Never Existed” vs “Spam” vs “Duplicate”? Does Google treat them differently? (24:13)

  • You will typically use Never Existed – use Never Existed for virtual offices. Use Spam for business listings that have multiple listings set up or if they have keywords in their business name – it’s blatant spam and very obvious. Spam and Never Existed technically do the same thing — they get the business removed from Google Maps.
  • Where people go wrong is they see keyword stuffing in a listing and they mark it as Spam – which is incorrect. That actually results in your edit getting denied. What you should actually do is edit the business name and correct it. The duplicate option is a useless, vacant hole. We’re not really sure if it works and we never use that option.
  • Never existed is for mistakes and if a business uses a UPS Store address. Spam is for people doing terrible, spammy things.
  • Google treats these options differently in how the listing is ultimately marked. When a manual listing review comes, Google looks at it and evaluates “is this listing actually correct?” The listing goes through a human review and the human is looking to see if the listing is factually If they find that the listing is factually correct, they’ll leave it as is.

Why do companies with service or location names in the business name still rank high? Should we do this to get quick wins, or is the day of reckoning coming? (28:24)

  • Exact match domain names used to help you rank higher. That actually still works to this very day. When you do put your service type into your business type, it is going to help you rank higher. You shouldn’t do it if it’s not part of your business name because it goes against Google’s guidelines. If you do it, will you get your business listing taken down? Probably not. Will people go in and edit it? Probably. Will that edits stick? Probably not.
  • If you add one or two words to your business name, Google will still resolve that with their algorithm. One of the core pieces of equity that a business owns is their brand. The brand is their name as well as what they stand for. Any time you start messing with your name, you’re messing with your brand and that creates confusion. View your name and brand as a statement of who you are and what you do.

If a business has multiple old listings, should we select “Permanently Closed”, or is there a better way to remove these listings? (32:16)

  • There really isn’t a way to remove data from Google. You can’t get a listing deleted. The only time they remove a listing from Maps is if it’s incorrect and the business never really existed there. One exception would be a service or home-based business that was never claimed or verified, it shouldn’t be on Google Maps, so those listings can be removed.
  • But if you have a listing at an old address that your business used to be at and you moved, marking it Permanently Closed doesn’t change anything — that listing will still show up. What you should do is reach out to Google support and mark it as Moved. Google will then show the correct page at the correct address. (Similar to a 301 redirect.)

What is the best way to combat obvious fake reviews on a client or competitor’s GMB page? (34:03)

  • Report these types of reviews via the flag on the review, wait two weeks and then escalate through Google’s social media channels or through the GMB forum. The single reviews are going to be hard to get taken down if they don’t violate the terms of service. Typically flagging a review won’t result in it getting the review taken down.
  • If you can show that the reviewer has a pattern of being part of a spam network, then you should do the research, document it and then ask the forum members to escalate it.
  • When you do a single report to flag a review, you’re giving that review text to an individual and they literally review the text of the review.
  • Google defines a review as someone who has had an “experience” with the business. There are lots of ways that you can have an “experience” with a business – reviews don’t have to be just customers. They can come from suppliers, former employees, current employees, delivery companies, etc.
  • It’s very difficult to get reviews removed. The default is to leave a review up.
  • Mike Blumenthal has a tool that can analyze reviews to see if it’s part of a spam network: email him at mike@getfivestars.com

Verification Issues

Is there a way to get access to or control of GMB listings created by ex-employees or marketers who no longer work for the company? (41:30)

  • This is a big problem. Tip: When you are creating your GMB listing, always use your domain name email as the primary owner. Go into GMB as a new location, Google will ask if you want to request management of a listing and they will send an email to the current “owner.” The current “owner” has 7 days to respond. If they don’t respond, Google will go ahead and release it to you. Or it may get denied by the existing owner.
  • During this process you can see a hint of the “owner’s” email address of the listing. You’ll see the first few letters and then **.com. Make sure you take a screen shot of that – because that will give you a hint as to who that owner may be.
  • The ownership privileges that Google assigns is more sophisticated than in the past. Now you can have dual owners.
  • The business owner should be the “owner” and the business owner should then make the other people (like an agency) managers

A client has several locations. Some are correctly set up as ‘service areas’, while others have storefront addresses. If we change the storefronts to service areas, will Google require re-verification? (46:19)

  • No. You can change to service area without re-verification. You want to always claim the right type of business when setting up your GMB

I have used my phone number to verify multiple GMB listings. Now Google says I have used my number too many times. What is the best option for getting around this blocker? (48:24)

  • If you work in an agency and you use an employee’s cell phone number, what happens when that person quits? It’s recommended that you always use the business owner’s phone number or the company’s primary phone number when you’re setting up the Google business account. Also, you shouldn’t set up Gmail accounts. You should set up the account using the business’ primary email account.
  • Don’t use your own phone number when setting up a client’s GMB account.

Merging/Claiming Listings

If a business re-brands and/or moves, is it better to duplicate the existing GMB listing or shutter it and create a new one? (50:00)

  • Rebranding and moving requires planning. You want to change it in GMB and request the moved/redirect in support. If you’re moving across town, you’d want to update the address in GMB. The only exception would be if a business moves to a new state.
  • If you’re rebranding, you may want to create a new listing. For instance, if you’re rebranding your restaurant from a Mexican Restaurant to an Italian Restaurant – you’re creating a whole new customer experience, new chef, new menu, etc. you would want to create a new GMB listing so that the old reviews stay with the old listing and the new reviews/info stay with the new branding.

My clinic merged with another. Google didn’t let us merge GMB listings and forced us to create a new listing. We have seen a big drop in rankings and leads. What can we do to rectify this, and what could we have done differently? (54:10)

  • This requires you to rebuild your brand, both locally with press and digitally with citations, link building and reviews.
  • If you plan the name, address and phone number strategically, you can minimize the impact on your listing. (If it’s a “new experience” then you just have to start all over.)

Multi-Location/Service

I have over 100 listings that all use a central order telephone number. Google guidelines state that a local telephone number must be used. How do companies in the same situation approach this? (58:45)

  • Google allows locations where the phone number that’s best suited for the location is a shared phone number. Here’s an example: if you search Pizza Hut in Australia Google shows the same phone number – no matter where you’re located. You also see this in hotel chains as well. If you get push-back from Google it may be because you have local phone numbers on your website.
  • You could also create a sophisticated call tree that does use local number so people can have access to that local number.

I have clients who run different businesses from the same location. Google insists that each business needs its own address and phone number. Should I advise my clients to create fake suite numbers or is there a better approach to satisfy Google’s rules? (58:45)

  • Suite numbers don’t matter! Google does not care about suite numbers.
  • If these businesses are actually different businesses (pays separate taxes, have different business licenses, etc.) you should be fine. If they’re just different brands, then you are not eligible to have listings. An exception would be Best Buy: Best Buy has Geek Squad inside their physical locations. Best Buy sells electronics and it has its own signage. Geek Squad is located in Best Buy but they fix electronics and they have their own signage. In this case, Google would be okay with Best Buy and Geek Squad having separate listings.
  • Car dealers with service departments is also a good example where one business has different categories of business but are in the same location and should be able to get separate GMB listings.

If a business offers different services which target different customers, is there a way to set up different GMB listings with different categories but the same location? (61:33)

  • No. You do NOT want to set up multiple GMB listings.

About Our Google Top Contributor Panel:

Mike Blumenthal

Mike Blumenthal, GetFiveStars

Mike is one of the foremost figures of local SEO, having offered web services since 1995. In 2009 he co-founded LocalU, a company that educates business owners on digital marketing. He writes on all things ‘Google Local/Maps’ on his blog ‘Understanding Google Maps and Local Search.’ He is also the Chief Review Officer and Co-founder of GetFiveStars, a reputation development platform for local businesses.

 

Joy Hawkins

Joy Hawkins, Sterling SkyLocal SEO expert Joy is a contributor to the Moz Local Search Ranking Factors survey, a columnist for Search Engine Land, and a speaker at conferences including SMX and LocalU. Joy runs a local search agency, Sterling Sky.

 

 

Joel Headley

Joel Headley, Patient PopJoel has worked with Google’s Local and Geo products since 2005. Joel is now the Director of Local Search at PatientPop.com, a solution for patient acquisition, retention marketing, and business insights.

 

 

Ben Fisher

Ben Fisher, Steady DemandBen is a Google Plus/Google My Business marketing maven and an experienced SEO veteran. He is a co-founder of Steady Demand, a company that works with agencies and businesses to develop and create engaging social media content.

 

Host:

Myles Anderson

Myles Anderson, BrightLocalMyles is Founder and CEO of BrightLocal. He has worked in the local search industry since 2009 and has been a major contributor to the Local Search Ranking Factors Study. Myles also writes a regular column for Search Engine Land and talks at SEO conferences such as BrightonSEO and Inboundcon (Toronto).

 

Want to contribute to a future webinar?

We’re filling our content pipeline with many more webinars like this. If you’re a local SEO expert and you’re interested in being a panelist or interviewee in a future BrightLocal webinar, get in touch with us at contribute@brightlocal.com.

Our Expert Panelists

Mike Blumenthal
Joy Hawkins
Joel Headley
Ben Fisher

Troubleshooting Google My Business Issues Q&A

Time & Date:
  • 1pm EST
  • Wednesday 27 September 2017
  • 1 hour
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161 thoughts on “Troubleshooting Google My Business Issues Q&A”

    1. Hello,

      I’m afraid this webinar has already happened so the experts won’t be able to answer your question on this occasion. However, keep an eye out for future webinars which may well cover this question and more.

      Thanks

      Jamie

  1. I share an office with another company. We are in the medical field but different jobs (they are a chiropractor, and we are chiropodists).

    If I search for Chiropodist on google local, they come up (oldly as the only chiropractor on the list).

    But if i open the search, then i can not see my company at all.

    How can i separate the 2 entities in google local search

  2. Is there a way to force a manual review of the possum
    Filter and do google employees even have the power to adjust individual listings or would it mean a change to the entire algorithm. I have an estate agent who is filtered and google displays housing associations on the exact kw search. Crazy.

  3. We are a software provider. Our clients use it to manage their business. We get bad reviews for businesses that use our software, unrelated to the software, but directly related to how the business dealt with their own clients. Are these reviews subject to being removed from GMB?

  4. I have top rankings for my zip code but how can I get high rankings in other zip codes?

    What are the top on-page SEO factors when trying to rank a keyword for local search?

  5. We are a garage door company with an office located in Chandler, AZ but we service the entire Phoenix Metro area (Chandler is part of the Phoenix Metro area). Currently, my “location” page is referenced as “Garage Door Repair – Chandler” and includes our NAP.

    Should I reference our Chandler office as “Phoenix” or keep it as Chandler? And just add a “service-area” page for Phoenix?

  6. Do you still SAB specific entities struggling to rank since the update in mid-August? What suggestions do you have for a business that really does not have a storefront? Should they still check the box in GMB that they also serve customers at their location?

  7. With home service businesses (electricians, plumbers, etc) I have noticed a trend toward favoring non-residential addresses.

    Should I push clients who have their address set as their home to get a commercial or non-residential address?

  8. QUESTION #1:
    Service Area Businesses – How to build Citations to help rank Service Area Businesses in Local SEO? Client insists on not sharing their address to the public because it is their apartment or home address. This only provides us with a handful of directories we can submit to where we can keep their listing private and competition is high for their industry, which is moving company.

    QUESTION #2:
    Can we use CoSharing Offices to for Local SEO to help clients ranks for mutliple locations? What is your thoughts on this since the new Google Hawk Update?

    QUESTION #3:
    Should we guarantee Local SEO rankings?

    QUESTION #4:
    How does G+ Pages help Local SEO? Should we have Local G+ Page, or a G+ Brand Page?

    Do we really need to have Multiple G+ for each verified Location? Is it ok to just have 1 G+ page for multiple locations?

    QUESTION #5:

    Client insists on opening branches and having seperate domain names for each website. He is a Printing Shop.

    He has one shop in Glendale, CA, and then he has another shop in Downtown Los Angeles.

    The Names are Extremely Similar. To protect client privacy, I will say examples of the name:

    PrintingShop123.com (Ranking well in Glendale)
    PrintingShop123LA.com (NEW SHOP WILL OPEN SOON)

    The names, websites, and Logos are exactly the same, but logo is slightly different.

    Competition for Printing Shop is high in Downtown Los Angeles.

    My question is, will this type of setup negatively affect their SEO?

    QUESTION #6:
    Does regular blogging help Local Businesses rank better and will content marketing help Local SEO?

  9. For doctors or attorneys for which there are 2 different GMB pages, one under the professional’s name and the other under their business name: what should they do to optimize their visibility in the Maps search results?
    Furthermore, should they keep both listings, even if it means maintaining and optimizing 2 pages vs 1 ?

  10. Sorry getting in here about an hour before the conference… but here is my question that I was asked the other day, and would love your input:

    Do you find it necessary to connect Google+ to Google My Business, as Google has made it extremely complicated to connect it? Do you find that there are any advantages?

    I know Mike has discussed it quite a bit, but do you foresee Google finally getting with it and taking on the countless issues with Fake Reviews and Accounts?

    Thanks! You guys are amazing!

  11. I understand that (1) Google uses proximity to the smartphone user instead of SEO (2) that Google displays an Ad in front of the Map Box Results. If these 2 facts are correct, do you have to just pay Google Adwords and NOT worry that much about local SEO?

  12. I’m having an issue trying to verify a service-based business. When I get the verification with the postcard there’s no address for it to mail to! Do I need to include address to verify then change back to service-based later so it doesn’t show in maps?

  13. Has any else observed this happening?
    Google Removes Web URL from GMB Page.

    Apparently forwarded domains can no longer be used for this purpose. In the past we might build a section on a website talking about that particular geographic area for one of the companies offices and use a town specific domain with forwarding that would direct to the town section related to that office. Now Google removes the website URL completely and sometimes notifies you that there is no website on your listing.

    We always hesitated to list the same URL for multiple office locations because we thought this method would work better. It once did, but it seems those days are over. Does anyone have experience with using the same domain with many locations? Different phone and address of course.

  14. I own and operate a mobile windshield repair company. In my local city, I rank 1-3 in organic as well as being found in the “maps” section. However, I have 5 adjoining cities, furthest being only 4 miles from my location and my company is buried down on page 3 or lower in the search results for these cities with the same keywords I am ranked for in my own city. Plus, I have 40+ 5 star reviews spread out over internet, because I take care of my customers. How do I become relevant in these very close surrounding cities? It irritates me that Google can just haphazardly decide where I am relevant and where I’m not.

  15. My question is regarding value… Can you provide me with examples of how small businesses grow when their local SEO game is tight? I have several clients who are at the top of the local pac and due to their ignorance and budget I can’t charge more than a grand! I believe it would benefit everyone to discuss value and pricing for a small business that has a 5 – 10 mile radius.

  16. What if the GMB was set up by a former employee who was disgruntled and will not respond to our requests for access to our google my business. How can we reclaim it or what’s the best way to handle this?

  17. Google Home Services destroyed my client’s dominate rankings in the 3-pack by removing them completely. My client is quitting the Home Services program because it is expensive and there is no good way to determine whether a lead is legitimate and not just a salesman. How do I get Google to place us back on the 3-pack? We did nothing to hurt our ranking but join their paid services.

  18. I work with a client who operate out of a single location but run SIX separate (but product-related) websites. They have previously set up six different GMB listings with identical address details – I am concerned that Google may flag these as duplicates. What strategy would you recommend? Thank you.

  19. How can we get a service business to rank within the farther reaches of the radius selected. This is a real issue in densely populated megalopolis such as Southern California.

    Quite often I have client in one city where the main office and warehouse are located and they run service vans for a 30 to 40 mile radius. I never recommend trying to get a new claim for a phony address/phone in another city.

    But these businesses really need to rank for the keyword searches for “plumber geo-suburb03” since they have vans working in that area daily and can provide immediate service to ge0-suburb03 residents

  20. Why is it possible to simply leave a 1-star review with no ‘review’ text and it can’t be removed. This, even though there is actually no review content worth a damn – just 1-star clicked! Surely there has to be at least some justification for a 1-star click to qualify as a ‘review’. Of course, with no text, there is no basis for complaint or contravention of GMB review T&Cs.

  21. I have a hotel property with two restaurants within the building (same address). Google constantly flags us as a duplicate listing. What do I need to do to prevent this issue from occurring?

  22. I posted a question about ranking factors a few days ago questioning the continued emphasis on links for local. A day or two later I saw a Search Engine Journal article published on Sep 18 that confirms that “optimizing for ranking factors is short term thinking.” Google’s Gary Illyes is quoted as saying that links are often not a ranking factor at all and that many top results don’t have links. Google’s John Mueller said the algorithms’ job is to show relevant content, everything else varies. So what’s the panel’s guidance on building that quality, relevant content for local?

  23. I have hotel as a client that has no star designation in Local Search (not referring to reviews) yet his two neighbors are both 3 stars. Who designates the start ratings?

    1. Hi Danielle,

      Yes, we’ll be putting together a blog post recapping the webinar and including the full recording a couple of days after the webinar. You’ll receive an email with a link so you can watch whenever you like!

      Thanks

      Jamie

  24. My customer runs his General Dentistry practice out of the same office as his Dental Implant practice. They share the same address but different names and phone numbers. Could this affect our rankings?

  25. Looking forward to the webinar! My question relates to Possum and Hawk, in a way.

    Possum filtered out businesses in the local search results if they share a phone number or address. Fine, I can see how this would reduce some duplicate listings and spam. BUT, it also filtered out legitimate business listings just because these businesses happen to be in the same office building.

    I’m in this situation with a small business client. 4 businesses in the same industry (ie. dental clinics) who each have different suite numbers and reside on different floors of a skyscraper in NYC.

    Biz A: shown as unfiltered and listed in the local SERPs
    Biz B (my client), C and D: hidden from the local SERPs and filtered out.

    My client and 2 others each have the same avg star rating and approx the same number of reviews. My client has more consistent citation listings than the unfiltered biz and better editorial backlinks as well as onpage optimization.

    If this was a simple: “that biz is outranking you because they’re doing a better job with onpage / offpage optimization”, I’d accept that.

    BUT, it seems my client and 2 competitors are being punished solely for being in the same 45 floor building. Google reached in and yanked out 3 out of the 4 businesses.

    Question: Can I speak to someone at Google, perhaps the Google My Business guys and let them know we’re not trying to spam the local listings and we are in fact a legitimate and separate business?

    Thanks!

  26. In your opinions pertaining to geo modified searches, are we seeing different weight factors in different markets. ie. smaller towns with less search volume have more weight towards geocentric business location. Larger towns with larger search volume tend to favor backlinks, reviews, NAP, and others more so than the geocentric locations?

  27. We have manager access to our GMB listings, but need ownership access to remove other managers who are no longer with the company. The current primary owner is the previous business owner who no longer works for the company and is non-responsive when we’ve reached out to transfer access privileges. How should we go about gaining ownership access? Should we revoke our own manager access and then request ownership access again… basically starting from scratch?

  28. Some local businesses need less work than others to get their business on the 3-pack. Can you break down the work required into phases, with Phase 1 being the basic necessities, followed by more advanced phases for the more competitive niches? Thanks!

    1. Hi Tony,

      Thanks for your comment. We made a typo in the previous email, I’m afraid. The time of the webinar is 2pm EST / 7pm GMT. Sorry for any confusion caused. Hope you can make it!

      Jamie

  29. I have over 100 listings that all use a central order telephone number which is the number I’ve used but guidelines state that a local telephone number should be used or you will be penalised. How do companies approach this who are in the same situation as myself?

  30. I am wondering what is the percentage of local searches that include a geographic modifier (ie City name or zip) and what are the best strategies for capturing local search share for those searches w/o a geo modifier. Thanks

  31. Can you please explain the difference in the GMB metrics for queries vs views (search & maps)? Which metric would be most like the traditional “impressions” metric of how many times searchers have viewed a listing. We’re interested in tracking a “CTR”.
    Thanks!

  32. How much of an effect does Google NAP matching citations have on ranking? I read and am told that its a big factor but I have competitors keyword stuffing NAP and ranking higher in Local and Organic.

  33. What are some of the best contributing factors for ranking a site locally in Google Maps?

    Also, how does this approach differ when ranking a business with multiple locations?
    Any recommended strategies?

  34. Moving business soon and need to cover all bases with new address.

    Was told that best to have a land line at business for SEO purposes. I had at&t landline and then moved number to Ringcentral and have the number listed under the business address. Any concerns??

  35. In a highly competitive market, showing up in the local pack can be seemingly difficult despite utilizing most (ok now all) of the tools in the toolbox like all Google reviews, features, posts, pics, replying to reviews, NAP and reviews on other sites. Also, as a second question, we are commonly asked why results for Dentist Chandler AZ vs Chandler Dentist are different. When searching a business, it to me is obvious we go for category first, location second, however there are a large portion of searchers who do the opposite. What are the answers you give your clients as an answer to this question and finally, do you choose the categories for your clients or do you ask them what they want to index under?

  36. I live in Montana which has the highest percentage of entrepreneurs in the country. I think we also have the highest percentage of multiple businesses being run at the same physical location and sharing the same phone number!

    I have several clients who do this. Some have completely separate business entities for taxes and the works like one client with three businesses: real estate agency, property management firm, and construction company. Others have ABNs for their ‘separate’ business entities but still do all their sales and taxes through the main company like this client: pawn shop with ABNs for a western art gallery and bail bonds.

    Using the same address and phone number seems to affect their local visibility for some or all of their business categories. I have discussed this with multiple Google reps and they all insist that each business should have a unique address and phone number. I have told my clients that an extra phone line isn’t that expensive. But the only way I know of to handle the duplicate location is to have them add a fake Suite Number for each business. Is that allowable? Or do you have other suggestions to deal with this?

  37. 1. Have you noticed that local citations or directories help with ranking factors better than any other directories? I have noticed that setting up local directories and having a few comments on them possibly helped my clients rankings jump a couple spots in maps section.
    2. If my clients are not ranking well in maps but are organically is the reason they are not ranking well in maps because they have a few duplicate listings on their directories? If so then what directories would be the top ones to make sure to have cleaned up without duplicates? or do all of them need to be clean across the board?
    Thanks for your time.

  38. For new clients, is it worth just focusing on setting up profiles in the big aggregators (infogroup, localeze, acxiom, factual) and letting that information slowly trickle down? If not, where should our top 3-4 areas of focus be?

  39. In highly competitive local markets such as home professionals, law firms, and restaurants what are the best areas to focus effort on after obvious groundwork has been laid? Kind of like advanced tactics that an agency can use to reach higher rank in those competitive markets.

  40. Two Questions:

    1. Could we potentially have more control over the photos that appear in the Maps listing? One of my clients has hid their location, but a Google of an image of their location keeps appearing as their primary photos instead of the beautiful examples of their work. Is there any way to help them remove that photo or at least push it down?

    2. I have clients who are trying to upgrade to a Google Home Services account. They’ve completed all paperwork, but then are notified that there’s an issue. When we try to get support, we keep getting passed back and forth between the PPC department and Google My Business. Is there a more direct way to have such issues resolved?

  41. Can you shed light on how the new Q&A function works on mobile? We’ve had a few questions arise, then a random visitor will answer incorrectly. We tried reporting bad answers, but it doesn’t always disappear. Does it help to leave an answer as the business, or having more than one person leave an accurate answer? It all feels like new territory that is working against us.

  42. We have a listing that is not showing up organically in the map pack, but our paid ad is there. Could paid ads in the map pack be hurting a listing’s ability to show up in the map pack organically?

  43. In the past, I would optimize our client’s Google+ About sections with links to major service pages, detailed descriptions of their service areas (including hyperlocal/neighborhood optimization with links to these areas in Google Maps), as well as links to social and other relevant, related pages. I know there is still a workaround to continue adding a detailed description to these profiles, but have you noticed any value in doing so? It’s difficult for a potential customer to even find this information at this point, but I have always thought that if there is opportunity to optimize, then it must bring some potential value to local visibility… Thoughts?

  44. Q1: A client has a business with several locations — some are correctly set up as “service areas” while others (incorrectly) have a storefront address. If we change the storefronts to service areas, will Google require re-verification?

    Q2: What’s the best way for Google to allow email verification of new GMB listings? Using a Google-enabled email address from the business’ domain? This would be for a client who has dozens of listings that are listed on their website.

  45. What are the pros & cons of submitting your listings to primary aggregators yourself vs. using a paid service to do it for you. Anything other than cost/time? This is part of our service offering (B2B) and we use Moz & BrighLocal to do this for us – we’re considering doing it ourselves if we can justify the staff time vs. cost.

  46. Sorry, another question from me….when I create a new Google My Business listing or try to claim an existing one, Google asks for a phone verification to verify my account, however, my phone number has been used too many times. Is there any way to get around this? A tracking phone number is not acceptable, and without another valid phone number, I can’t create or claim another Google listing.

  47. What are the things we should consider as part of our clients’ local strategies for 2018 as a matter of priority and what local trends do you envision will be growing?

  48. 3 Questions:

    1) In general, when a business moves into a location where there used to be a business there and has a verified Google My Business listing with that address, how do I create a Google My Business listing for my client who is now at that location since there’s already an existing Google listing at that location?

    2) Google’s guidelines says you should not use a virtual office space for service area businesses, however, many listings are getting verified even with a virtual office. So can you or can you not use a virtual office?

    3) When a Google My Business listing gets suspended and you’ve checked and double checked that all guidelines have been followed and you file to appeal the suspension and Google denies it, what’s the best way to handle this situation?

  49. How come some companies add service type and/or location to their business name and benefit from higher rankings, even though it is against Google guidelines? Should we advise clients to do the same to achieve quick wins? Or is the day of reckoning coming?

  50. We bought an existing local business in 2015. The business had 1 GMB listings (“J H Southwick”). As per the contract of sale we had to rebrand the business so we changed the business name of the listing to “Simply Dental Chatswood”.

    In 2016 we acquired another local dental business (RVP Dental) and merged with Simply Dental Chatswood. RVP Dental had 2 business listings.

    In order to utilise the juice and authority of 2 RVP Dental’s listings we called Google and asked them to merge the 3 GMB listings into Simply Dental Chatswood.

    Stupid Google decided to reset all 3 GMB listings and restore these to how they were set-up originally and created a 4th listing for Simply Dental Chatswood and migrated the content to this new listing.

    When asked why, we got an unclear answer that we cannot rebrand existing GMB listing and should have created a new one in 2015 when we bought the business.

    Essentially we have now ended up with a brand new GMB listing and lost all rankings on Local Pack and Google Maps. We have noticed significant impact in number of leads we now receive as a result.

    What are our best options moving forward?

  51. Hi there,

    We are setting up a local business that targets a number of different services to the same location i.e Lawn care Miami & hedge cutting miami. Do we need to set up a different GMB page for each service? These have their own pages on the site but I see other competitors ranking for their homepage as opposed to the page where they’re targeting? What’s the best way to approach this type of set up in GMB to be able to achieve rankings for both services in Maps?

  52. For local service companies that don’t have a business location, is it good to list them as a service area provider or should you encourage them to get an address?

  53. Aloha!

    I have been struggling with how to do keyword research for Local SEO. For example, I would like to be able to do specific research for a city to see what is being searched and the volume specific to each city and area.

    Mahalo!

  54. How is the blended algorithm working now, for some time if the site ranked on Page one and the citation power exceeded competitors then the business would show in the three stack, now two reflect this and often one does not, if citation power is no longer the most prominent factor to rank in the three stack what is? I note that most businesses in the three stack now show a full address not just the city, this I deduct must now also be a factor, could Mike point us in the right direction on the enhanced blended algo and stept to take moving forward.

  55. We have three locations in GMB which we setup and matched to all of our citations. Recently, Google updated one of our three locations by adding our toll free number. They did not suggest this update for the other two.

    My question is twofold. Should we accept the change (adding the toll free number) despite the fact that it does not exactly match our citations? And if we should, should we also manually update the other two locations in the same way?

  56. For businesses with two service locations, is it best to only include the location on the individual location page titles, descriptions, H1s etc, or include both locations on all page titles, descriptions, H1s etc?

    Thank you!

  57. I see some map listings don’t have websites linked in their profile, and they are ranking higher in maps than fully optimized sites that have 5 star reviews. Why do I see this happening?

  58. I’ve heard Mike and Joy speak about individual practitioners GMB listings and how they should be handled when considering the local results of the practice as a whole.

    However, my question is – How should I handle the individual’s listings on LocalEz, Infogroup, Factual, ect? Close them as I would a duplicate or leave them alone?

  59. Is it possible to get the company card replaced by the GMB knowledge card for our business’ corporate office? Currently, when you search for our client’s company name, information is pulling from Wikipedia with their stock information, etc. in a company card to the right in search? We’d like their corporate location to show instead.

  60. Google has 3 related marketing tools and technologies – Google Maps, Google Nearby, and Iddystone Beacons. How will these three technologies and marketing tools compliment each other? What is your view on how Proximity Marketing with Beacons?

  61. We have noticed that updates to GMB listings are taking longer to go live than in the past. Have there been any recent process changes on Google’s side (e.g. more manual reviews) that could account for this?

    Do you have any new recommendations for service-area businesses without addresses?

  62. Larry the answer is yes, you can claim a listing an ex-employee set up.

    Call Google at 1-866-246-6453, choose the places for business option, they will verify with the current owner of the business listing and if they don’t reply within 7 days, Google will allow you to claim the listing via phone or postcard.

    * you’ll need an Adwords customer ID for this option, which can be done without completely setting up an Google Adwords account.

  63. 2 of my pages were suspended on the same day but GMB would not say exactly why. “We will be unable to assist you with the exact specific violation. For more information on this topic, please refer to our quality guidelines: Guidelines for Representing your Business on Google and ensure it adheres to every guideline” We are not in violation of anything. We even removed all images. Both are drug rehab centers

  64. What can we do to improve our page rank organically? Right now, one of our locations appears #6 or #7 in results when searching for the exact business name. We’d like to improve this of course – what are some things we can do? Thank you!

  65. I’m an entertainer and travel the country for corporate and private performances, and perform regularly in San Diego and Phoenix. I’m hiding my address on my Google Business Profile as I don’t have a physical business location as I’m a service based traveling business.

    I want to increase my local SEO in two cities, San Diego and Phoenix, but I can’t show my address.

    What can I do to help with local SEO?
    Are my efforts wasted on local SEO because of the hidden address?

  66. Drug and Alcohol Rehab centers have been under Google’s eye lately for spam (from competitors messing with GMB listings, to scammers trying to take advantage of folks who need help) – any insight as to what Google is doing to prevent this? and what agencies can do to help good rehab clients’ to rise above the junk?

  67. We run a business from home that serves multiple cities. We use a ” USPS Street Addressing PO BOX, which is not the same as a PO BOX, as our mailing address and for listing purposes. We have been using this address for GMB with no problems. The problem is we wanted to rank well for another city, so I “opened” a second location using the same method. So far so good, no problems. My question is: are this addresses considered “virtual offices” as far as Google is concerned? With no intentions to open a physical location, if it is a problem, how do I get around it?

  68. Are there some crafty ranking advantages to keyword labeling images, making G+ posts, replying to reviews? What impact does user generated content have on GMB listing? Anyone have success in GMB Maps Ads through Adwords? Is there benefit to posting direct to G+ vs using a 3rd party integrated posting tool?

  69. If your business is a franchise and the website while quite good does not allow a great deal of customisation would it be ok to build a secondary site that is made up of landing pages and blog posts that give local detailed customer information that then points to the main corporate local site.

  70. What is the best thing to do with duplicated Google My Business Listings? In my case, I have a client with old google listing which the email could not be found or forgotten. I have created a new listing with new email and already verify them (3 locations in one email). Now the problem is I could not find the new listing on google and the old one appears instead. How to take that old listing down? Thank you!

  71. Do you think Google will tighten it’s best in regards to spam in the local results? I am starting to see more and more over-optimised business names in the local packs.

    Also, what about virtual offices. From a few posts that I have read, it seems that Google is getting better at spotting virtual office addresses in the US, but not so much here in the UK. Do you think they will start to crack down on this soon?

  72. 1. What is the Primary source for Google to rely upon for information on Google my business?

    Is it
    GMB data listed by owners
    Schema markup listed by owners
    Website information listed by owners
    Google updates listed or edited by users
    or 3rd party Reviews listed by clients or competitions
    or other web profiles where the source to provide information is not known?
    Or is it something else?

    2. Passum, Hawk what next will affect local SEO?
    I have a client which is a hotel which sells rooms and they also have a restaurant in the same building.
    They have separate GMB profiles+seperate websites + separate phone numbers but share the common address..
    Google AI probably messed things up.. and data was flowing through both accounts..even Humans at google struggled…
    Do we have a good solution for this?

  73. We are UK based and our ranking is relatively high for a main google search for most of our main keyphrases, though we still have a good amount of work to do on our local ranking. We plan to open satellite operations in different locations – is there a way to list our business in different locations for google+/Google My Business?

  74. I would like to know why in Google My Business you can add information about your business such as a description and Google picks the wrong information across internet about my business which is not true. What is the point to fill out all the information when this wont show up? Thank you

  75. We had a strange case with one of our clients when immediately after adding his website in the field on Google My business dashboard the listing got suspended.
    We sent and received many postcards but every time we put the website it got suspended.
    Google Support did not give an accurate answer when asking them about the problem we had.
    How can be fixed?

  76. I have some clients that have rebranded and others that have moved. How can I update their old listings and still retain their rankings and ratings without having to start all over again?

  77. Photographer with 3 websites promoting different types of photography. Instinct and knowledge tell me no, they should only have one website for their business.
    However, the client informs me they have had two of the websites for some time and don’t want to give them up, as they get produce leads.
    Should I insist they merge all three into a single site? If so what is the best way to do this without losing business?
    Or should I instruct my client to have different Business name and contact details for each website, treating them as completely separate business entities?
    Thank you

  78. How do I rank with a new business when I am competing against listings that have been in the 3 pack for years with mature websites etc

  79. Is there a way to get access to or control of Google business listings that were created by ex-employees or marketers that are no longer associated with the company?

  80. Do you think the new Google websites feature impacts the ranking of a company’s main website? Or, said another way: If my client already has a website and we build a “quick” website using Google’s tools, are we harming either the main website or the Google one?

    Any strategies on using Google sites to enhance the SEO power of the main website for local clients? I’m thinking my clients would still like to have their own website, but maybe we can leverage Google’s site for more exposure…

  81. What are the right conditions for flagging a spam listings as “Never Existed” vs “Spam” vs “Duplicate”? Does Google treat them differently?

  82. I have a DUI Lawyer Client and they are in the same building with 20+ other DUI Lawyers. The Client is getting frustrated, even though their website is relatively new, they are not appearing in the Map Listings and are stuck on the top of the 2nd Page for their Competitive Keywords.

    We are still adding content which will help and I understand the algo that Google can only put so many Same Area Results in the Map, yet I would like to know if there are specific tasks and processes to build upon to help clients like this improve their Local Visibility in the Map SERPs.

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Robert,

      We’re not sure what you mean here, I’m afraid. Is this a question for the webinar panel or us at BrightLocal?

      Thanks

      Jamie

  83. Questions:

    1) What is the best way to combat obvious fake reviews on a competitor’s GMB page? The GMB forum has not been helpful.

    2) Once a listing is suspended, is it simply a matter of answering reinstatement questions correctly to get it reinstated?

    3) If you are 100% certain a competitor’s main location is in another state, but they have a listing in your state and repeatedly keep getting their listing reinstated, would photos showing no sign/no business front prove this? This company in question was recently taken to court, and the circuit court records list their out of state address. Isn’t that enough proof for Google that they don’t have a location in our state?

    We are thinking of taking photos of the apartment complex they claim to be their business and sending that to Google. If we have this proof, is the GMB forum the only way to communicate this evidence?

  84. How is Google evaluating content quality in a local setting? Background: At Local U Advanced in New Orleans last year, one of the presentations listed content as the top ranking factor followed by links and other factors. However, relatively little time was spent talking about content and much more time about links. At MozCon 2015, Rand Fishkin ended the session with a great “10X content” presentation focused on content quality, but within a year Moz ended development of its content evaluation tool. I realize that content quality is very difficult to evaluate — that’s why I’m asking this distinguished panel for its thoughts.

  85. Which social media site has the most effect on Google ranking? I have heard that Google does not crawl Facebook or Twitter (that may not be the case) and now that Google Plus appears to be marginalised, what should we be advising clients who have limited time or resources?

  86. Google My Business prepares place holder pages but makes claiming those pages a chore. Sometimes the place holder is inaccurate and there’s already a good page in place. But to take ownership of the place holder for the purpose of removing the erroneous info is not attractive. Any suggestions on how to make this happen more efficiently and strategically?

  87. How much of an impact does the GMB landing web page have on local search rankings? And, for multi-location clients, is it always best to use the homepage as opposed to the location page? If not, when is it better to use the location landing page for a multi-location client?

  88. What are the prevailing thoughts on using the landing page on Google My Business for franchisees? I’m thinking about using it for a restoration company where there are numerous franchisees within 10 miles of them. We could use the landing page for unique content, and then link back to their official franchisee website. I’m thinking that this might help us rank better, and show that we’re using Google’s toys which might also give us a boost. Opinions?

  89. Local search and more then a “keyword” For example “Veterinary Emergency Hosptial” and “Vet ER Clinic” kinda the same thing, but not really. How can you target these words and in different geographical areas with getting penalized for using duplicate content for each city.

  90. We have a client that operate multiple businesses out of the same building. Each business is unique, operates independently and has different contact information. The challenge is that they do not have individual entrances or unit numbers for the businesses so very hard to get GMB to recognize the unique business as they often share a reception area. Any insights how to service this as a “mall”?

  91. I have a client that had 2 places on Google maps (one was his residence and the other was the shop) both with the same company name. I change the name of the GMB for the residential to another name and phone number, now the shop map listing is showing a blue dot. Why is this happening ?
    Should I delete the residential listing?

  92. Any word on features that used to live in Map Maker transitioning to Maps? The feature I miss the most is being able to see edit history. We knew we wouldn’t have even close to the same functionality as Map Maker at first, but just wondering if there are rumblings of any progress towards that…

  93. Hi,

    1st question:

    I’ve been in business for 21 years and have many glowing, but old, client testimonials written for me years ago before the days of online reviews. Some of these clients have passed away or moved away to god knows where. Asking many of these to submit their testimonials as online reviews is impossible.

    How can I legitimately convert these glowing client testimonials from years ago into online reviews?

    2nd question:
    A more open-ended question: I’m building out a local multi-sided platform on a new Shopify website focused on local LOHAS businesses in New Mexico. I’m going up against the large established national platforms focused on small businesses like Yelp!

    Any ideas or general advice on how to do this in a way that my local platform can eventually rank higher than the large general nationwide platforms like Yelp?

    Thanks!
    Jeff Nailen
    SantaFeWay.com

  94. For a single-doctor medical or dental practice that uses a practice name in their NAP data, what’s the best way to get the listing to come up on Google Maps when a user searches for the doctor’s name? We’ve had issues with extra listings getting created in the doctor’s name when most of the reviews and updated information are on the practice listing.

  95. We have multiple clients whose organic listing is in a much higher position than their map result. I do use a few services for citation building (including bright local) so I don’t think that’s an issue. Do you have any input or suggestions as to what might be consistently causing this?

  96. Do I understand the recently expanded “Appointment” URL in Google Maps/Knowledge Graph correctly, that you can input a URL to an appointment or contact page on your website – but whether or not you do that, Google could still choose to use a 3rd party like ZocDoc or Healthgrades assuming the business is found on those sites. Is there any way to optimize for one or the other?

  97. It seems as though Home Service Ads (HSAs) will be a “trumps all” kind of service. Does the roll-out of HSAs mean that local SEO agencies will need to change their focus to something solid?

  98. 2 Questions:

    1. What is the future of Google+? Is it still relevant? Any major updates on the way?

    2. How to best use the free Sites option with Google My Business? Can these sites eventually compete with the firm’s own website or influence Local results?

  99. I am satisfied with my Google local SEO results for my specific town, but in adjacent towns/cities it’s as if my business does not exist. How can I improve my reach in adjacent towns/cities? There are at least 6 adjacent towns/cities that I should be reaching.

  100. Hi. I’m an SEO in Colorado. I have a dental office as a client located in Illinois who is getting spammed with negative Google reviews from people she does not have on record as patients. Looking at the profiles of these reviewers, they have 0-2 other reviews, some with fake looking names (c’mon ‘Dick Full’ with no other reviews, no profile setup and no photo does not seem like a real person). So we have left responses to the reviews. We have flagged some of the more fake looking accounts as spam. But there really is no option, when flagging a review, to say – this account looks fake. Or this review cannot be verified by the business. It would be great if we had a next level of protocol to flag these reviews in Google.

  101. A company that I recently worked at kept getting calls from Google saying that we needed to update our business information. Our business information was up to date but they wanted the business owner for verification and he didn’t work at our location. They would hang up when we told them that we weren’t the owner or he wasn’t available. One day they told us that our business listing was slashed but the listing still shows up when you google the business. Any idea why we were getting those calls even though our info was accurate?

  102. Service areas show up in map? A competitor is in the local map in search. The address on their site is a lie. I checked. But it looks like they are in the map with a service area. Is this possible? I want to mark them as spam because they have an address on their website that is a lie. But I can’t find the spot to mark it as spam. Is it possible to be in the map with a service area and not an exact address? Then perhaps there is nothing to mark as spam?

  103. I work specifically with private practice healthcare providers and we see maps listing that have not been claimed outrank a business with 100 reviews, photos, posts and their corresponding website ranks well in organic. What do you think effect rankings besides – keywords in the business name or proximity to city center? To a degree, organic can reflect maps but I have several instances where a client is #1-3 in organic and 20-30+ in maps or is being affected by the “same building” filter.

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