As we have mentioned in previous blog posts, submitting optimized listings to local search directories is a great way for businesses to maximize their local search visibility and increase traffic to their websites and physical store locations. Google My Business is a great, free tool that businesses can utilize to supply a Maps listing with an address, phone number, images, hours, descriptions etc. We encourage all of our clients to take advantage of this resource as it is a great opportunity to boost overall online visibility.
Recently, as I was going through my monthly local directory submissions for clients, an email came to me from Google to report that another user would like ownership of the account's Google My Business listing. Now, this is not an uncommon thing. Requests come through all the time for employees to have manager access to the Google My Business account so that they have the ability to make edits as necessary. However, this one was different. The request for ownership came from the email address “firstname.lastname@example.org.” This email is not from anyone involved with this client, and although the address appears to come from a reputible company, Web.com, there is no proof that's actually the case, and it is highly unlikely that the email actually came from them.
Even when a specific name or brand is used in an email address, you still need to verify who actually sent it. It goes back to the saying "don't believe everything you see on the internet!" As local SEO experts, E-Power feels it is our duty to educate clients on how to identify scams such as these, and assist with steps to deny the requests.
Time is of the Essence
If your business sees one of these requests come through, do NOT ignore it! You only have
7 days to either accept or reject ownership rights. After those 7 days, if no action is taken,Google says that your listing will become unverified, making it ineligible to appear on Google and leaving up for grabs for anyone to claim. This is going to cause more hassle down the road. Once someone else has claimed your business, it is a whole other process to try and get that ownership back in your hands. Within the email, there are two different options that are available for either, sharing management/transferring ownership, or not granting access and confirming refusal.
If you cannot verify who the request is from, and you don't believe it came from a trusted colleague or partner, refuse the request as soon as possible. Another request can always be issued, but once your listing is in someone else's hands, you are putting your brand in jeaporady.
Who Gets the Requests?
Anyone who has ownership, or management capabilities within the Google My Business account, will receive the same email if a request is made. Make sure that all managers submit a denial response to Google per the instructions in the email from the Google My Business Support team.
If one of these ends up in your inbox and you aren’t sure what to do, it is important that you do your research before any action is taken. As mentioned before, always investigate to ensure that the email that is asking to manage the listing is legitimate and associated with the company. Gmail addresses can be created by anyone. The name or company used in the email address may or may not be the initiator of this request. Always verify that the agency or team you're working with has authorized the request before releasing management rights to them. Even if you recognize an email address, it's always best to confirm their plans for the listing.
Unfortunately there are a lot of scams out there and this is just the latest. Local search marketing is extremely beneficial for businesses, if managed correctly. Stay aware and ensure that your Google listing remains in the right hands!