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Google has started automatically adding a large “Request a Quote” button to eligible business listings in its local search results.

The button appears to be limited to just businesses who have opted into the Google My Business messaging feature, which would allow customers to directly message a company representative. However, it is unclear what specific industries the button is being added to.

With the new feature, users can now immediately request a quote from your company directly from the local search results – without ever visiting your website. 

While that means less traffic to your website – and potentially less informed leads – it also makes it more convenient than ever for potential customers to initiate the sales process.

While we can’t guarantee your listing will be given the “Request a Quote” button, we do know that being signed up for GMB’s messaging feature is a requirement for the new feature. 

To turn on messaging for your own listing, just follow these steps:

  • Download and open the Google My Business app
  • Log in with the credentials for the account associated with the listing
  • Open the location you’d like to manage
  • Tap Customers
  • Tap Messages
  • Tap Turn on

Once this is done, you will be able to receive messages from customers within the app. Users will receive their responses through their Google Maps app.

A recent Wall Street Journal investigation has landed Google once again in the hot seat as the report claims Google Maps is filled with millions of fake business listings. 

Over the course of the article, reporters say they found some Maps search result pages where more than half of the local results included fraudulent or misleading information characteristic of a fake listing.  

For example:

“A search for plumbers in a swath of New York City found 13 false addresses out of the top 20 Google search results. Only two of the 20 are located where they say and accept customers at their listed addresses, requirements for pushpin listings on Google Maps.”

In some cases, the fake listings are simply phantom businesses with no real purpose or to misdirect customers. However, the Journal believes others are designed to scam potential customers out of large amounts of money. 

As you would expect, all of these practices are expressly forbidden by Google, but the Wall Street Journal says the policy is poorly enforced. 

In fact, the report says hundreds of thousands of fake listings are appearing monthly:

“Hundreds of thousands of false listings sprout on Google Maps each month, according to experts. Google says it catches many others before they appear.”

How This Hurts Businesses

The fake listings do more than cause consumers unnecessary frustration or potentially scamming customers. They also hurt businesses who are pushed out of the top search results by fraudulent businesses.

Getting your business into the organic local results without paying for ads is already a gamble that can involve hours of hard work optimizing your website and listing. Adding fake competition just makes the arena even more competitive and encourages more businesses to spend money on local ads instead. 

How Google Fights Fake Listings

Google openly acknowledges that it has an issue with fake business listings, though the company says it is already taking extensive steps to fight back. 

In an article on the company’s blog, Google explained:

“It’s a constant balancing act and we’re continually working on new and better ways to fight these scams using a variety of ever-evolving manual and automated systems. But we can’t share too many details about these efforts without running the risk of actually helping scammers find new ways to beat our systems—which defeats the purpose of all the work we do.”

Specifically, the search engine says it has removed more than 3 million fake business profiles over the past year – 90% of which were removed before they could ever be seen by users. 

Approximately 85% of these profiles were removed by Google’s automated internal systems, while around 250,000 fake business listings were reported by users and then removed. 

Google may be making significant efforts to fight the problem of fake business listings, but The Wall Street Journal makes it clear there is still much to be done.

Google My Business is updating Google Posts to allow brands to highlight glowing reviews from customers.

With the new update, you can feature 4 to 5 star reviews that have been left on your listing.

As Google said in the announcement on Twitter:

“In some countries, Google My Business now provides suggested posts to help you showcase positive reviews. These posts are automatically suggested based on 4 or 5-star reviews recently left for your business”

“You may get suggestions for new testimonials to post when you sign in to Google My Business, or via email notifications. These posts are automatically suggested based on 4 or 5-star reviews recently left for your business. You’ll be able to review and edit the post before publishing it.”

You can see a few examples of what the new post format looks like from Twitter user Andy Simpson below:

While it is unclear exactly which countries aside from the US have access to the feature, the update brings yet another way to make your local search listing more visible and engaging for users.

As always, Google Posts showcasing your reviews remain visible for one week unless you manually remove or edit the post.

The importance of Google reviews has recently gotten a big boost, as it appears that the number of rankings your business has on Google My Business may play a big role in determining where you appear in the local search results. Thankfully, it appears you won’t have to rely solely on Google for your reviews in the future.

Google has begun integrating reviews from third party sources like Trip Advisor and Booking.com into their Knowledge Graph cards for Google My Business Listings. That means your reviews from these sites will be shown alongside your Google reviews, all in one convenient place for shoppers.

The reviews can also be filtered by source by clicking on the “All reviews” drop-down menu.

Currently, the sites being integrated are most beneficial for hotels and other similar travel-related businesses. It is unclear when or if more review services will be included in the future.

As Search Engine Land notes, this is not Google’s first foray into using third-party review sites directly within their search results. The search engine got into a lengthy legal battle against Yelp for scraping their reviews and displaying them in the search results without permission. The result was that Google agreed to only use third-party reviews in their search results with explicit permission from the publisher.

Based on this, it is all but certain Google is working closely with these outside sites to integrate their reviews.

The biggest question for now is whether these reviews will also be reflected in local optimization. If so, businesses that have been accumulating reviews on third-party sites may expect a big boost to their local rankings in the near future. Only time will tell.

Your Google My Business listing is one of the best ways to make sure potential customers in your area find your business. The listings provide the information about where your business is, your hours, and what types of products or services you offer, and the listings often appear above any other regular search results.

Now, Google is making it easier than ever to maintain and edit your GMB listings by letting you manage them straight from the search results pages.

When you search for your business while logged into the Google account associated with your GMB listing, you will now be shown a new dashboard where you can edit your business information, add new stylish photos, share posts about your business, and even see how many views your listing is receiving.

If you are like the many businesses who have incomplete listings or haven’t updated your business info in years, now is the time to take action. Google highlights a number of reasons that having a thorough and informational listing is important for local businesses in their announcement, including:

  • More than 80% of online searchers use the web to find local information.
  • Businesses with complete listings on Google are twice as likely to gain customer trust, and
    • 38% more likely to attract in-store visits
    • 29% more likely to see a purchase

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Have you ever given a marketing company control of your Google My Business accounts and listings so they can help manage your local marketing? Have you ever tried to get your account bad after you decided to part ways?

It has been notoriously difficult and time-consuming to regain ownership of your Google My Business listings in the past, but Google has launched a new feature to streamline the process.

If you’ve been unable to reclaim your listings, you can now start the verification process to prove you are the rightful owner or representative for your listings with just a few steps:

  • Go to Google My Business.
  • Log in with the Google account you use to manage your business.
  • Enter the business name or address and select your business from the search results.
    • There is a chance you may see text showing part of the email address that originally verified the listing. If you control this email address, you can sign into that account to access your business listing.
  • Complete and submit the form.
  • Google will contact the current owner of the listing asking them to contact you. In the meantime, you will receive a confirmation email with a link to check the status of your request.
  • Allow seven days for the current owner of the listing to respond to the request. If they do not respond within a week, you will be able to verify your affiliation with the business and regain control of the corresponding listings.

 Google-My-Business-Logo

As schools close and the temperatures soar across the country, it isn’t unusual for businesses to change their hours for the summer. It is especially common in tourist areas where shops often stay open longer to accommodate the longer days and increased store traffic.

If your business has special summer hours, now is the time to guarantee your business listing on Google shows your adjusted seasonal hours.

Today, Google launched a new initiative at gybo.com/summer to help businesses quickly check how their Google My Business listing is displaying, including whether they are currently open or closed.

Google says a recent survey of small businesses found 25% change their operating hours during summer, but only 1 percent of the businesses also adjusted their hours on Google My Business.

Considering recent studies have shown over half of all consumers use search to look for business hours, and even higher numbers use search to plan local purchases, having the wrong hours listed can be quite a big problem.

If you have special summer hours but haven’t updated your listing yet, be sure to update the listing in Google My Business. Be sure to set a reminder while you are at is so you remember to change the hours back again when fall arrives.

Yesterday we reported on the mass hijacking of thousands of Google+ Local listings. In short, over a short period of time a huge number of hotels with business listings for Google Maps and Search. The story was broke open by Danny Sullivan from Search Engine Land, who attempted to track down the source of the spam attack, with no concrete evidence to suggest who the culprit actually is.

While the issue could have a big affect on many businesses it the hotel sector, it is more notable for showing that other attacks could happen in the future. Even worse, no one outside of Google has been able to explain how this could occur, especially with the number of big hotel chains affected. The hotels hit with the spam weren’t mom-and-pop bed and breakfast places. Most of the listings were for huge hotel chains, such as the Marriott hotel shown in the example of a hijacked link below.

If Google does know how this was able to happen, they aren’t telling. In fact, Google has been terribly quiet on the issue. They’ve yet to issue an official public statement, aside from telling Sullivan that he could confirm they were aware of the problem and working to resolve it.

The only direct word from Google on the hijackings is a simple response in an obscure Google Business Help thread from Google’s Community Manager, Jade Wang. If it weren’t for Barry Schwartz’s watchful eye, it is possible the statement would never have been widely seen. Wang said:

We’ve identified a spam issue in Places for Business that is impacting a limited number of business listings in the hotel vertical. The issue is limited to changing the URLs for the business. The team is working to fix the problem as soon as possible and prevent it from happening again. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.

Yesterday, thousands of hotels with Google+ Local listings had their pages manipulated to replace their links to official sites with links leading to third-party booking services. Google+ Local listings are what Google uses to provide local results in Google Maps and Google Search.

It currently appears to be isolated entirely to hotels, and Google has already said they are aware of and fixing the problem, but Danny Sullivan’s research into who is responsible for the hijacking has yet to turn up anything concrete. What we do know is that thousands of listings were changed to point to either RoomsToBook.Info, RoomsToBook.net, or HotelsWhiz.com.

Source: Search Engine Land

Source: Search Engine Land

The problem is, we can’t be sure any of these companies are actually directly responsible. Only one person responded to Sullivan’s inquiries. Karim Miwani, listed on LinkedIn as the director of HotelsWhiz.com, replied saying (sic):

We have recently seen this issue and have reported to Google webmaster already. If you have seen any links please forward it to me and I will submit the request.

Our team is already in the process of blocking list of certain domains and IP addresses from back-linking us.

Thank you for pointing this out if you have any more external domains acting in aboce manner please report it to us on

You can get all the details on the hijacking from Danny Sullivan’s investigative report into the issue, but this event has a broader relevance outside of the hotel industry. The mass hijacking of Google’s local listings suggests their is a security flaw in the Google+ Local listings which needs to be addressed and resolved. It may explain why Google has largely remained mum on the subject aside from confirming that it occurred.

You most likely have nothing to worry about with your own local business’s listings, so long as you don’t work in the hotel industry. However, it could have implications about the future of Google+ Local listings. Either the security flaw that allowed this to happen will be fixed, or issues like these could affect other industries on a larger scale.

Considering how important these listings are to Google Maps and Search, a larger attack could be a serious problem for Google.

A few weeks ago, select Firefox users noticed a new “card” layout in the About page for local listings. Beginning Tuesday, it appears the layout has begun to roll out world wide. Mike Blumenthal explained the new layout, saying:

The big difference is that the page now can be displayed in either a single, two or three column layouts depending on browser window width as opposed to the current fixed two column display. Reviews will now follow the same columnar structure as the rest of the page and will not be limited to a current one column display. While this view is not yet visible in mobile, one assumes that if the view were to become universal it would likely push to mobile as well.

The page adds three iconic based calls to action near the top; review, directions & photos. The review summary has been moved up the page and photos have been moved down the page. Geo information including street address, category, hours, description and map are now consolidated into a single card near the top titled “Contact Information. “Similar Places” from around the web no longer show and “reviews from around the web” have been moved up the page to be nearer the top.

But, with the change has come an issue with reviews, at least temporarily. As of Tuesday, the number of reviews listed in the information for local businesses has dropped or begun to show wildly inaccurate review counts. It is unclear whether the actual reviews have disappeared or whether the counts are the only aspect to be affected, but users are reporting as much as a 30 review count drop. It is safe to assume the issue will be resolved quickly as the new layout is ironed out.

You can see the new layout below:

New Local Layout

Source: Mike Blumenthal