Yes your Google Business listing can be hijacked.  

‘Tis the season for online scams. From fake text messages claiming to be Apple, Microsoft, Amazon or your bank, to phone spoofing and Facebook marketplace scams. The heat is on. You regularly find articles talking about the dangers to consumers but there are few, if any covering the issues business owners face. 

In addition to phone book listing scams, fake internet hosting bills, and a bunch of others, now you have to deal with hijacked Google business listings. 

According to Searchengine land , “unethical local marketers are effectively phishing, using the “claim this business” link in the local Knowledge Panel/Profile. That generates an email request for control over the listing, which is sent to the registered owner of the profile. There are many examples and complaints on the GMB forum.”

Other ways to hijack listings includes merging a listing with an existing listing. They are effectively stealing your authority in maps and redirecting the relevance and your traffic via their efforts. 

Why do listings get hijacked?

Bad actors hijack listings to gain user information. People click on the link, they get a message that says “congrats you have won,” and from there they get led down a path to installing malware or otherwise giving up personal information. This breach of personal information contributes to the annual $1.9 billion dollar identity theft industry.

Why are hijacked map listings so valuable?

Google knows map listings generate more business transactions than standard organic listings. They are the hidden goldmines of search because most people look for business right around them. Map listings get ranked based on “relevance” and relevance is hard to come by. Some of Notice U Marketing’s clients see map link clicks in the thousands each month. Getting control of a top level listing and pointing it to another business website or an identity theft scam hijacks the traffic and it can hijack the relevance. This will quickly raise rank for a spurious website or quickly gather a lot of perusal information. 

How do I combat listing hijackings?  

  1. Make sure all of your listings are claimed and in your control. 
  2. Make sure you keep them up to date. Do a monthly check up on every listing. Better yet take an hour to add some images, a post, and or to respond to reviews.  A little activity goes a long way to keeping your listing active and under your control. 
  3. Consider a Local SEO service. Notice U Marketing locks down listings, builds relevance, constantly monitors them, and performs weekly updates for you. It is an inexpensive service that drives a lot of new business your way and adds to security. 

What do I do when my listing has been hijacked? 

Call professionals. Recovering a listing that has been hacked will have different requirements depending upon the situation and severity. If you choose to tackle this yourself, the best DIY, advice, if you still have access to the listing, is to: 

  1. Eliminate all users except yourself. 
  2. Change your Google password which effectively changes the password for the listing. 
  3. Change the website url for the listing. 
  4. You will likely need to call Google at some point and enlist their help to make a full recovery. 

If you no longer have access to the listing: 

  1. Consider reporting it and or closing it. Even though it is for your own business and may or not have hundreds of great reviews, it is better that it is closed or suspended than operating nefariously. It is likely, with the help of a professional maps team  or Google, you can recover all reviews and relevance in a short time. 
  2. Call Google and get to work with their team to regain control of the listing. You will need to contact Google directly and enlist their help with the listing. 

I need help with my Google Business listing.

When you need help call Notice U Marketing. When you are worried about security, call us. When you want more customers or you want to rank higher than a competitor in maps, call us. We specialize in doing Local SEO that is customized and that works. To see how we helped other businesses just like yours, click here.