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Google Business Profiles (previously known as Google My Business) are a crucial part of any brand’s online presence. Not only does it control how your company appears in local search results, but it also powers Google Maps listings.

So how does Google balance keeping these local listings easily accessible for business owners without leaving listings vulnerable to manipulation or outright fraud?

The search engine explained how it combined everything from its search algorithms and machine learning tools to human reviews to block more than 100 million abusive business profile updates last year. 

Thanks to this approach, the company believes that less than 1% of the content viewed through Google Business Profiles and Google Maps was fraudulent or abusive in 2021. 

How Google Fights Business Profiles Spam

Over the course of 2021, Google says it blocked over 100 million abusive or fraudulent edits to Google Business Profiles. This includes a wide range of activities, including creating fake business listings, fraudulent or abusive reviews, or attempts to hijack business listings. 

Here’s the breakdown of the types of actions taken by Google to fight Google Business Profile abuse:

  • Removed over 7 million fake Business Profiles on Google Maps. Google said more than 630,000 of those Business Profiles were removed through user reports.
  • Prevented 12 million attempts to create fake Business Profiles on Google Maps.
  • Stopped 8 million fraudulent attempts to claim Business Profiles on Google Maps.
  • Disabled over 1 million accounts due to policy-violating activity, such as online vandalism or fraud.
  • Removed or blocked 95 million policy-violating reviews, over 60,000 of which were taken down due to COVID-related instances.
  • 1 million reviews were taken down through user reports.
  • Blocked or removed 190 million photos and 5 million videos that were blurry, low quality, or violated Google’s content policies.

Can Google Make Up For Past Mistakes?

Historically, Google has struggled to prevent misuse or manipulative behavior across its local business listings. There are countless horror stories easily found online from businesses that had their listing stolen from them, vandalized by the competition, or brought down by fraudulent reviews.

Hopefully, with actions like these, the platform can continue to undo this legacy and provide a reliable platform for both users and the businesses included.

Google Business Profiles (formerly called Google My Business) has added a new waiting period for new profile managers or owners when they have been added to an account.

If you try to edit your business listing during this period, users will get an error message alerting them that their access is temporarily suspended.

This new information was discovered in the recently updated help guide for adding or removing profile managers or owners,

A single person – typically the business owner or an executive responsible for a brand’s online presence – can “claim” their Google Business Profiles listing to become the primary user without experiencing the delay. 

However, if you then add an employee or marketing agency to manage your listing, they will be required to wait 7 days before they will be granted full access to the account. 

As the new help document explains:

When a new owner or manager is added to an existing Business Profile, they must wait for 7 days before they can manage all the features of the profile. During this 7 day period, the new owner or manager gets an error if they try any of the following:

  • Delete or undelete a profile.
  • Remove other owners or managers from a profile.
  • Transfer primary ownership of a profile to themselves or a third user.
  • An existing owner or manager tries to transfer primary ownership of the profile to a new owner or manager still in their first 7 days.

If the new owner or manager deletes their account within the first 7 days, they’re removed from the profile. If they undelete their account, they must be added to the profile again.

Most likely, this temporary delay has been added as a means to prevent hackers or other bad actors from attempting to illicitly access Google Business Profiles accounts.

Say goodbye to “Google My Business” and say hello to “Google Business Profiles” as the search engine streamlines its tools for businesses.

Though much will stay the same for businesses listing their services on Google, the rename marks some significant changes – such as where and how your businesses can claim their profile. Starting now, your brand can claim its profile directly from either Google Search or Google Maps.

Below, we will talk a bit more in-depth about how you can claim your listing and what this means for existing listings.

How to Claim a Google Business Profile

When signed into the Google account associated with your business, the fastest way to claim your listing is to simply search for your business name. 

This will bring you to a prompt that will allow you to verify your listing or challenge someone who has already made a claim for your listing. 

Once claimed and verified, you will be able to edit any information shown and add additional details like photos, videos, unique services, and Google Posts.

Is Anything Else Changing?

For the most part, everything else is staying the same regarding local business listings on Google. Their appearance will stay the same, as will the optimization methods to ensure your business appears for relevant searches. 

What will change is where you are editing this information. 

For example, the search engine says it is no longer necessary to use the specific Google My Business website or app to update your listing.

The app will be phased out in early 2022, though you can still use the website if you are managing multiple listings. It will simply be renamed to “Google Business Profile Manager.”

For now, this is all the news we have about the relaunch of Google My Business and Google Business Profiles. More info will be coming in the coming months as the relaunch rolls out.

It is well known that business listings on sites like Google My Business or Yelp are an important part of connecting modern consumers with local businesses in their time of need, but you might not realize just how essential they are. 

A survey recently conducted by BrightLocal makes it perfectly clear, showing that 94% of consumers use business listings websites to find local businesses and more. 

Below, I’ll be breaking down some of the most interesting findings from the study:

Why Do Consumers Use Business Listings?

After showing that nearly all consumers (94%) have used business information websites in the past year, the survey asked what the respondents had been hoping to achieve. 

They found that most had multiple reasons for searching business listings, but most were driven to specifically connect with brands they’d never done business with before.

Specifically, the results showed that 66% of consumers used business information sites to find new businesses, while 66% found information on businesses they were already aware of but hadn’t used.

Meanwhile, less than half (48%) used local business listings to find information about businesses they had already used before.

Which Business Listing Platforms Do People Use?

Out of more than 20 options, the results showed that the vast majority of people used a small handful of sites to find information about local businesses.

Unsurprisingly, Google led with 89% of consumers using the service to find a local business at least once in the past 12 months

For comparison, Facebook followed with 48% of respondents using the platform for local business information

It should be noted that in many cases, a platform like Yahoo may be using another service’s search engine – such as the case with Bing. Though only 15% of users directly used Microsoft’s search engine to find local businesses, more than a quarter (28%) used platforms powered by Bing.

Additionally, the reason popular platforms like TripAdvisor or Waze don’t appear high on the list is likely that they focus on one niche, unlike Google or Facebook.

Wrong Information Is Rampant

It should be obvious that your listings need to be accurate for a number of reasons. Not only is important for potential customers to be able to actually find the businesses that offer the products or services they need, but local listings serve as powerful SEO signals as well. 

This is why it is rather surprising that most consumers say they have encountered incorrect information in business listings in the past year. 

According to the report, 85% of consumers found incorrect or incomplete information on a business listing in the last year, and 77% saw conflicting information on a business across different online directories.

Wrong Information Loses You Business

To make it clear how directly inaccurate information on your listings affects your business, 63% of consumers say that finding incorrect information on a business listing would stop them from using that business

That is more than half of your potential new customers gone because your phone number, hours, address, or other basic information are wrong online. 

How Covid Impacted Local Listings

It has to be noted that online local business listings have taken on a new level of importance over the past year because of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Quickly changing business practices, new safety measures, shifting hours, made it necessary for consumers to check online before going to any business – even ones they’ve been to dozens of times. 

For example, 74% of consumers used local listings to see what Covid-19 safety measures brands had put in place.

Unfortunately, brands didn’t always keep up their side of the bargain by updating their listings as things changes. Based on this survey’s responses, 81% of consumers visited a business that said online it was open, but that was actually closed due to the pandemic.


As the study shows, you don’t need to have your business listed on every site out there. Instead, it is better to focus on keeping your information accurate on every directory your business is on – even if you are only on a handful of local business information sites.

For more information, including additional findings methodology, and further analysis, check out the full report from BrightLocal here.

For many small-to-medium businesses, appearing in search results around their local area is significantly more important than popping up in the results for someone halfway across the country. 

This raises the question, though. How many of the countless searches made every day are actually locally based?

We now have the answer to that question thanks to a new tool released by LocalSEOGuide.com and Traject Data.

What Percent Of Searches Are Local?

Working together, the companies analyzed over 60 million U.S. search queries and found that over a third (approx. 36%) of all queries returned Google’s local pack – indicating the search was location-based. 

Perhaps the biggest surprise from the data is that locally-based searches have remained largely consistent throughout the year. Following an uptick in early 2020 (likely driven by the coronavirus pandemic), the rate stayed around 36% over the course of the year. The only significant exception came in September, where the data shows a significant decrease in locally-driven searches. 

This data shows just how important it is for even brands that are strictly local to establish their brands online and optimize for search engines. Otherwise, you might be missing out on a big source of potential business.

Other Features In The Local Pack-O-Meter

Along with data on the appearance of local packs in Google search results, the Local Pack-O-Meter includes information on several other search features. These include:

  • Knowledge Graphs
  • “People Also Ask” Panels
  • Image Boxes
  • Shopping Boxes
  • Ads
  • Related Searches
  • And more

Though the current form of the tool doesn’t include ways to more selectively filter the information, there is plenty to take from the information for planning what search features you need to prioritize and which can be put on the back burner. 

To explore the Local Pack-O-Meter for yourself, click here.

Google My Business has officially launched a new label that highlights the number of years you’ve been in business within local search results.

The “years in business” label has been in testing over the past few years, and was quietly launched officially on February 9th, 2021.

While it is just a small label added to your listing, this could prove to be a significant way to differentiate yourself in the crowded “local pack” search results.

As Google put it in the announcement, you can now “add an opening date to your Business Profile to tell customers when your business first opened, or will open, and its address.”

To get an idea of what the label looks like, Barry Schwartz from RustyBrick (and who first noticed the launch of the label) took a screenshot of his own business listing with the new tag.

Source: Barry Scwhartz/RustyBrick, Inc.

How To Get The ‘Years in Business’ Tag

Adding this label to your own Google My Business listing is relatively simple. All you have to do is add the open date of your business within your GMB profile. 

To do this, just sign into your GMB account, click the location you want to update, then select the “info” option in the menu. From there, click “add opening date”, update with your own date you opened up shop, and voila. The label should be added to your local listing within the next few days.

“I’ve Been Seeing This Label For Months”

Many might have noticed that Google has been slowly adding this label to many of the listings which are eligible over the past year. Users first spotted the tag way back in September of 2020, with a larger roll out done in November.

Still, this week marks the official launch of the feature for all Google My Business listings.

How This Helps You

Thanks to bad actors listing non-existent or questionable businesses within Google My Business, it has become more important than ever to visibly show that you are a real, active, and trustworthy business within your listing.

This feature allows you to quickly do this by showing you have been a part of your community for years – if not decades – and won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.

Google My Business is an essential tool for any local business trying to spread their name online. It is also deceptively complicated. 

At first glance, GMB seems very simple and easy to set up. You just fill out a few forms, answer a few questions, upload a couple of pictures,, and presto! You’ve got a GMB listing. 

Actually optimizing that listing to ensure it appears in nearby customers’ searches, however, is where things get complicated. 

As usual, Google is remarkably non-transparent about how it ranks local searches.There are a few things that have become very apparent over the years. It is pretty much undeniable that having a lot of 5 star reviews will help you rank better. On the other hand, there is reason to believe some sections have absolutely no impact on your local rankings. To get to the truth of how the algorithm works, we have to look at data from tests.

Recently, MozCon speaker Joy Hawkins shared some findings her and her team have made from their own tests and data about what GMB sections help you rank better.

Which Google My Business Sections Affect Rankings

1) Business Name

Sometimes the simplest things can become unbelievably complicated. You almost certainly chose your business name well before making a listing, and you can’t exactly change it now. 

Unfortunately, this puts some businesses at a disadvantage while others get a natural step up. 

According to Hawkins, businesses with a keyword in their name get a boost in local rankings. There is one things you can do though.

As she explains:

“The real action item would be to kind of look to see if your competitors are taking advantage of this by adding descriptive words into their business name and then submitting corrections to Google for it, because it is against the guidelines.”

2) Categories

This is another section that seems like it should be very simple. You can check up to 10 boxes that match your business, including everything from Aboriginal Art Gallery to Zoo. Where this becomes tricky is ensuring the categories you choose remains the most accurate for your business. 

Hawkins’ team found that Google is updating it’s list of categories between 2 to 10 times each month on average. In some cases, they are adding new categories that may be a more specific match for your business. Other times, they may entirely remove categories they feel are irrelevant or unnecessary. 

Either way, it is up to you to keep your business categorized properly to protect your ranking.

3) Website

The vast majority of listings use the homepage of their website as their primary website listing on everything, including Google My Business. It makes sense, and it works perfectly fine. 

What Hawkins’ found, though, is that some businesses actually benefit from choosing a more specific page of their site. For example, businesses with multiple locations can link to a specific location page to specify exactly which store you are directing them to. 

In this section, there is no agreed upon best practice. Instead, Hawkins says to test several pages over time to ensure you are maximizing your exposure. 

4) Reviews

I mentioned it up above but it bears repeating. The number of positive reviews absolutely affects your ranking in local search results. 

There is a small catch, however. According to the what Hawkins’ team has seen, increasing the number of reviews on your listing may have diminishing returns.

“So for example, if you’re a business and you go from having no reviews to, let’s say, 20 or 30 reviews, you might start to see your business rank further away from your office, which is great. But if you go from, let’s say, 30 to 70, you may not see the same lift. So that’s something to kind of keep in mind.”

Still, reviews have consistently been shown to be a major ranking factor AND they improve the click-through-rate of listings. This is obviously an area you will want to invest some energy in. 

If you want to learn a little more about how these sections impact your rankings or you want to see which fields have absolutely no effect, you can read Joy Hawkins’ original post here.

Google’s latest search algorithm update made some significant changes to how local search results are compiled and processed, according to a recent statement from the company.

Though the rollout of the update began in early November, Google only this week explained that it has begun integrating neural matching into its local search algorithm.

As for what neural matching actually is, Google referred people to a tweet from earlier this year which called the process “a super synonym system.”

In more detail, neural matching uses AI to better understand the meaning and intent behind search terms, allowing relevant results to be included even when they do not include a specific keyword in the original query.

“The use of neural matching means that Google can do a better job going beyond the exact words in business name or description to understand conceptually how it might be related to the words searchers use and their intents.”

To put it in plain English, this allows your site or local business listing to be included for relevant searches where you previously may not have been included.

As of yet it is hard to tell exactly what impact this will have on local search results. Despite rolling out globally last month, it may take some time for the true impact to become apparent.

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 study from BrightLocal highlights exactly how powerful Google My Business is for helping local companies get found by local consumers and increase their sales. 

The findings are the result of research from 45,000 businesses using GMB from 36 different industries from 4 countries. 

Based on the findings, it seems that GMB not only helps improve search engine visibility, but phone calls, store traffic, and more. 

GMB Gets Your Business Found Over 1,000 Per Month

On average, the study says an individual business gets found in Google My Business listings in 1,009 searches each month – or approximately 33 times a day. 

Importantly, more than 80% of those searches are “discovery” searches which seek out a business category rather than a specific business name. 

The findings also revealed that three-quarters of these searches were done using Google Search, while the other 25% was done on Google Maps. 

5% of GMB Listing Views Convert

Local businesses receive an average of 59 actions each month from their Google My Business listing, according to the report. 

When you compare that with the 1,009 views each month, that suggests roughly 5% of GMB listing views directly lead to a website click, call, or direction request. 

Compared to BrightLocal’s findings from 2017 to the most recent study, that is a 25% improvement in conversion rates – rising from 3.87% to 4.83%.

Specifically, businesses received approximately 29% more website clicks from their GMB listings and 22% more calls. 

Other Findings

The study noticed that listings with more images received more views compared to those with fewer photos. 

Overall search volume also increased from 2017 to 2018, with direct searches up 38% and discovery searches rising by 6%.

To see the full report on the performance of GMB listings, click here.