Local Internet Marketing Blog | BizIQ https://biziq.com Fri, 21 Sep 2018 17:12:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 3 New Google My Business Updates to Watch Out For in 2018 https://biziq.com/blog/local-search-marketing/3-new-google-my-business-updates-to-watch-out-for-in-2018/ https://biziq.com/blog/local-search-marketing/3-new-google-my-business-updates-to-watch-out-for-in-2018/#respond Wed, 19 Sep 2018 20:37:53 +0000 https://biziq.com/?p=4345 View Article]]> Google is currently testing at least 3 new possible Google My Business features that we hope they will make widely available soon. They include new developments when it comes to Google reviews, as well as new ways to showcase your business from your Google listing.

I will never shy away from calling Google out when I think they’ve made a mistake, especially when it affects small businesses and BizIQ clients. However, Google is a good company, and they provide a lot of great services aimed at helping small businesses. And although Google My Business (GMB) isn’t perfect, it’s an indispensable tool and a powerful part of any local online marketing strategy.

Plus, Google is always testing and adding new features to this completely free service. It can be tough for even seasoned marketers to keep up with them. Here are the 3 new features Google is currently testing or slowly rolling out that you need to watch out for and that will help your business and small local businesses everywhere.

1. Google My Business Limited Tests for New Products (Beta) Featureblog title graphic

Last Friday, Local Listings Specialist, Cassidee Gregory noticed something interesting in the Google My Business dashboards of several of our clients, Products (Beta). Located in the menu on the left side of the dashboard, below the photos tab, the Products feature would allow businesses to list all the products they provide, including photos.

The feature might be easily confused with the Services/Menu feature Google slowly added to Google My Business and it’s not clear if the Products feature would replace it or not. It’s also important to note that the feature is clearly labeled “Beta,” and it only showed up for Cassidee, and not for Local Listings Supervisor, Danni Petersen when she logged onto the client’s GMB dashboard, or for me for any search when I performed a random search on my desktop and my iPhone this morning to see if I could get the products feature to show up for any businesses anywhere.

The beta is probably available to a limited number of businesses, and a limited number of Google users as well which could be why only Cassidee could see it. We’ll report on the feature in more detail if and when Google releases the feature.

2. Future Opening Dates For New Businesses and Locations in Google My Business

Yesterday, Barry Schwartz reported for Search Engine Land on the discovery that Google has started testing an expansion to the“recently opened” feature. The new feature being tested displays the future opening date of a new business or new location of an existing business. Google then displays the date in orange. Then when the new location is open, the date is replaced by the recently opened feature.

It’s not yet clear if Google is auto-creating a business listing for businesses that haven’t opened to the public yet and then populating the opening date from information found online, such as on the business’ website, or if a business can create a new listing for an unopened business. Technically it’s against Google’s own guidelines for a business that isn’t open yet to have a Google My Business listing. Perhaps if the tests go well and Google decides to roll out the new feature to more businesses, they will alter this guideline.

3. Respond to Your Google Reviews and Edit them in the Knowledge Panel

Last week, Google Top Contributor, Ben Fisher tweeted that businesses could now respond to their reviews and edit those responses directly on their business’ Google Knowledge Panel instead of having to visit their Google My Business Dashboard. Google has already allowed users who post reviews of businesses to edit their reviews for a long time now, but the ability for business owners to edit their review responses directly from the knowledge panel wasn’t available before now.

The fact that you can now respond to your reviews without having to go to the Google My Business dashboard makes it easier than ever to respond to your customer reviews. It’s vital that you respond to all your reviews, both good and bad because it shows potential customers how much you care about the people you do business with and showcases how well you resolved situations when a customer wasn’t happy.

New GMB Features Are Always On the Horizon

Every week or two, someone in the digital marketing community discovers something new that Google is testing, and Google My Business is no exception. While it looks like the ability to edit your Google review responses in the Knowledge Panel could be around for a while, it’s way too soon to tell if Google will test the Products (Beta) feature on a larger number of businesses. It’s also unclear how and if the Future Opening Dates feature will wind up altering the Google guidelines about when a business is eligible for a GMB listing.

I’m excited about all the new GMB features and hope they’ll be rolled out everywhere soon. I’m especially excited about the Products Feature getting tested more. But whatever happens, you can be sure that BizIQ will keep you posted.

I want to know what you think about all the Google My Business features that Google has introduced. Leave your thoughts in the comments section below and if you have any questions about Google My Business, click on the chat bubble in the bottom right corner to speak to a live marketing specialist, not a robot.

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Here’s What You’re Really Paying For With Online Marketing https://biziq.com/blog/small-business-tips/heres-what-youre-really-paying-for-with-online-marketing/ https://biziq.com/blog/small-business-tips/heres-what-youre-really-paying-for-with-online-marketing/#respond Tue, 18 Sep 2018 18:12:02 +0000 https://biziq.com/?p=4329 View Article]]> Hey everyone! This is Casey from BizIQ. Today, I wanted to give you a little bit of insight on what goes on in an online marketing campaign for a small business.

Now, to be specific, we’re talking about what we refer to as organic search. That essentially means showing up on the top of the page in Google, without having to pay them for advertising.

Now, you might think if you build yourself a nice website, get yourself set up on Google Maps, and maybe even put together a Facebook page, that you’re done.

Unfortunately, online marketing doesn’t work that way.

So we’re going to break it down into three main categories to make it nice and simple:

1. WEBSITE DESIGN & OPTIMIZATION

The first key component to discuss is your website design and optimization.

Now the day your new website is built, if you’re working with a professional, it is designed and optimized to the standards of online browsers like Google Chrome and Firefox, as well as search engines like Google.

The thing is, though: Google is constantly evolving how they evaluate websites.

So, you might be ranking #1 on a Tuesday, and then on Thursday, you’re down to #7. You want a professional watching these sort of things to know when they need to make an update to your website, so that when you drop a couple of positions, they know what to do to fix it.

That’s why you want someone constantly monitoring your website, not just building it, and forgetting about it.

2. ONLINE DIRECTORY LISTINGS

The second key component would be your online directory listings.

Now, when I say “online directory,” I’m essentially referring to the phonebooks, but a digital version. So think of yellowpages.com, or yelp.com, even Facebook and Google Maps, are technically business directories.

On a directory, you’ll find a profile for your business, that has your name, address, phone number… Business hours, a link to your website, and maybe a category to put your business under.

Now, it’s a great step to make sure all of the major directories have a singular, correct, live listing for your business. However, it’s gonna take a little bit more than that, because these directories are always trying to get more information about businesses, so they’re going to pull data from all different types of sources.

What this means is they might have an incorrect phone number from some source that could even be your competitor.

That’s right: Your competitor could go onto Google Maps right now, and suggest that your business is actually closed!

Google takes user-suggested content very seriously, and could very well mark your listing as closed. Now, if you have a professional, who’s regularly monitoring and submitting your business information across listings, you can avoid your competitor ever successfully marking your business as closed.

Now, whether you want to manage your listings manually, one at a time, or use an automated service, something like Yext, you want to make sure that your business listings are constantly being submitted, they’re updated, they’re live, and accurate across online directories, GPS systems like TomTom, and even voice search systems like Amazon Alexa.

3. ONLINE REPUTATION

The third and final key component I’d like to discuss is your online reputation.

Now, we know word-of-mouth has been essential for the success of businesses for centuries, but what I want you to think about is that online reviews are the new word-of-mouth.

In fact, 85% of potential customers will read reviews online about a business before they call or walk into the store.

Your reviews can also help in three major categories of online marketing performance: Visibility, traffic, and your ability to convert.

While there are many things that go into where Google ranks your business, they have said that, all things else considered, a higher-reviewed business (a higher rating business), will show up higher in search results than one with lower. Again, all things equal.

When it comes to traffic, or the number of people that click on your listing, a higher review-rating makes you stand out.

Psychologically, if you saw a business with fifty reviews, and a 4.7 rating, a business with 2 reviews and a 5.0 rating, and then a business with 13 reviews, and a 2.5, who would you click on?

You’d probably click on the person with 50 reviews, and a 4.8 out of 5. It’s a very high rating, and your first thought was to click on that business. So the amount of clicks, or what we refer to in the industry as “traffic,” goes up with a stronger online reputation.

And finally, the most important part about online reputation is that it provides the context for your potential customers to understand just how high of a quality your products and services are.

This is what we refer to as “building your value,” and helping you convert traffic into sales or potential sales.

Because your online reputation is so impactful in your business’s performance, you want to make sure that your constantly monitoring your reviews that come in, working to acquire new ones, and then, the important part, responding to the reviews you get, whether they’re positive or negative.

Now, it is extremely important to have a dedicated professional who has the tools and resources to monitor those new reviews, and let you know when they come in. Also a professional will know the best way to reach out to your customers, and get you new reviews.

And finally, they will also work with you to explain the best way to respond to positive reviews, and the best way to respond to negative reviews. So just like your website, and your directory listings, your online reputation is a constantly-evolving endeavor that requires maintenance.

Time is Money. Here’s How to Decide if You Should DIY

Now, based on what I’ve told you so far, you might think to yourself, Okay, these are pretty simple, actionable concepts that I could probably handle by myself.

And you could be right.

The question you have to ask yourself, though, is do you have the time and resources necessary to learn and implement these best practices on your own?

Just consider that the average marketing coordinator makes about forty thousand dollars in the united states. So, if you wanted to go part-time, maybe that would take you down to twenty thousand, or even ten thousand dollars.

Just to give you some context, here at BizIQ, where we run campaigns just like the ones we’ve outlined above, we charge about $499 dollars a month, on average, which takes you to just under six thousand dollars a year.

So, if you went with an agency, you’d be saving a lot more money than hiring someone in-house for a full-time, or even a part-time position.

I really appreciate all your time today. If you have some more questions about what we talked about today, just reach out to us.

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Google Approves Transfers of Rejected Google My Business Ownership Requests https://biziq.com/blog/local-search-marketing/google-approves-transfers-of-rejected-google-my-business-ownership-requests/ https://biziq.com/blog/local-search-marketing/google-approves-transfers-of-rejected-google-my-business-ownership-requests/#respond Mon, 17 Sep 2018 20:12:22 +0000 https://biziq.com/?p=4321 View Article]]> Today, BizIQ Local Listings Supervisor Danni Petersen, came into the BizIQ Marketing Office and gave me some news about Google and transferring ownership of Google My Business Listings that I didn’t want to believe.

I’m so mad I could spit, swear, and break everything in the office! Why? Remember, a few weeks ago when I wrote this article about how to fight spam and fake listings on Google Maps?

Everyone at BizIQ is passionate about educating small businesses on the importance of their Google My Business listing and why the listing is an integral part of their local marketing efforts. I’m angry because to me, it appears that Google is approving Google My Business ownership requests of verified listings even when the current owner rejects the ownership request.

Are they just giving verified listings away? No, they’re ignoring the fact that the business owner rejects the Google My Business ownership request, and then the transfer goes through. That’s a problem because no matter how you look at it if this happens to you, you’ve lost your Google My Business listing.

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You could still lose ownership of your Google Listing, even when you reject the transfer request

So how did Danni discover the problem? At the end of the day on Thursday, Sept 13, 2018, with the help of BizIQ Sr Local Listings Specialist, Cassidee Gregory, Danni noticed that we had lost the listing of one of our clients. When we called the client to check if they’re transferred the ownership to someone else, they told us, no, and they had no idea who the person is who has stolen their listing.

But first, we need to flashback to roughly 2 weeks ago when BizIQ got notification via email from Google that they had received a request of ownership for our client’s business listing:

  • We contacted our client to see if they knew the person listed in Google’s email, and they told us, they did not.
  • We rejected the request within 1 hour.
  • Google allowed the ownership transfer anyway.

And it was extremely easy for the person who stole the listing to do even though all they listed for contact details were a first name, and a telephone number that is just the number 1, as well as an email address of random numbers and letters at gmail.com.

If the person requesting ownership can successfully verify your listing, Google will still transfer ownership, even if you rejected their request

So how can Google transfer ownership of your business listing even when you reject the request? And here’s the thing that upsets me the most for small business owners, if the person trying to take over your business listing can verify your listing, Google will give them ownership of the listing. Here’s what happened with our client:

  • At some point during the last 10 days, someone called our client’s business on their business line.
  • During that call, they convinced someone to give them the Google verification PIN code, probably by either claiming they were Google or claiming they were their marketing company.
  • They entered the verification code.
  • At some point, Google verified the listing, and it was successfully taken over by the person who requested it.

That’s right. Google does not make it hard for anybody, including scam artists to take over your Google My Business listing at all.

Danni wasn’t going to just let someone take over our clients’ listing, so she called Google My Business Support.

What did Google My Business Support advise?

ownership request denied

Danni called Google My Business phone support 3 times and spoke with 4 different people before she could get anyone to listen to the problem and even act like they were willing to work on fixing the issue.

  • The first person she spoke to was dismissive and told Danni there was nothing Google could do to help. That’s it.
  • The second person Danni talked to told her there was nothing Google could do on their in and to submit a listing ownership request. Danni then asked, “What if it happens again?” Google responded, “We’ll look into it.”
  • The third person she spoke with was very sympathetic and transferred Danni to a supervisor.
  • The fourth person she Danni talked to was more accommodating and acted like they took this problem seriously. He told her that he has a meeting with the Google My Business Product Team and they would discuss how they could create a process that would protect people who claim, verify, and manage their Google listing the right way.

Google My Business promised to call Danni and let us know what Google came up with as a solution. But what does Danni think Google should do to fix the problem?

What should Google do to solve the problem?

When Danni and I were working on outlining the details for this article, she came up with some ideas for how Google could make it harder for someone to take over someone else’s business listing that would protect people who follow Google’s guidelines.

Danni thinks Google should have a procedure they use to make sure a person trying to take over ownership of someone else’s listing has actual authorization from the business. Danni came up with a 5-step approval checklist for Google:

1. Can Google My Business Support get verbal confirmation?

Google should call the business line and speak to the business owner, not just any employee who answers the phone. Google used to do this but eliminated this step awhile back.

2. Is there documentation that shows the transfer was authorized?

Google needs to require that the person seeking to take over the listing has prior authorization from the business owner. Examples of documentation could be:

  • An Invoice for Listing Management services
  • A Business License or Utility Bill

3. Was the initial request denied?

Google needs to look at the original ownership request. Was it denied within 24 to 48 hours of the time Google sent out the email? They also need to look at why the request was denied. For example, BizIQ always includes a note that says that BizIQ is actively managing this listing.

4. Is the business being actively managed?

Google likes to say that if a listing is being actively managed, it’s a safeguard against someone just taking over your listing. In the case of our client, we’ve been actively managing their listing for 2 years. We’ve continued to optimize it with new features as Google has added them. Someone was still able to get Google the listing.

5. Is the business using other Google products like Google Ads?

Google needs to check to see if your business uses other Google products that are tied to your listing such as Google Ads or Adwords Express. Allowing someone to take over your Google listing even after you reject the request, means any ads and analytics that are tied to your business listing won’t work correctly.

What can you do if this happens to you?

I’ll let you know what Google tells Danni about what they plan to do to fix this issue. Right now the only advice Google gives is to submit an ownership request for the listing that someone took from you. Of course, the person who stole your listing can reject your request. In that case, you might be able to appeal. However, Google doesn’t always include a link to appeal their decision, and then you’ll have to get help from a live Google representative by submitting a request for one to call you.

Even though agencies and local online marketing companies can also have problems with shady companies and con-artists targeting the client listings we manage, we can often get answers from Google faster than most small businesses can on their own. If something similar is happening to you, or you have questions about Google listings, I urge you to reach out and contact BizIQ.

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How to Fight Spam and Fake Listings on Google Maps https://biziq.com/blog/local-search-marketing/how-to-fight-spam-and-fake-listings-on-google-maps/ https://biziq.com/blog/local-search-marketing/how-to-fight-spam-and-fake-listings-on-google-maps/#respond Tue, 28 Aug 2018 00:01:00 +0000 https://biziq.com/?p=4295 View Article]]> Fake businesses listings on Google Maps and Google, in general, are a huge problem for small businesses. Virtual offices, fake locations, and lead generation companies are making it harder and harder for legitimate small businesses to rank near the top of Google search results. When these spammers and con artists take over the search results, nobody wins including consumers.

Google’s own guidelines prohibit all these practices, and Google reports that fake listings have dropped by 70% over what they were in June 2015. However, Client Services Retention Manager, Erik Arndt, and others here at BizIQ are part of a growing group of people in the local online marketing community that includes popular Google commentators Joy Hawkins, and Mike Blumenthal who say that’s not true and the problems of fake listings and fake review spam on Google Maps has actually increased. That’s why Erik and the rest of BizIQ have made it our mission to rid the internet and Google of spam and fake listings.

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Common forms of Google My Business spam and fake listings on Google Maps 

You don’t have to be in local online marketing to discover and report fake Google listings. Below are 10 common tactics that spammers, con artists, and shady businesses use to generate spam and, steal your business, and create fake listings.

Fake Home Service Contractor Listings

Often fake home service contractors will list their address as one where an actual local home service contractor is located. These fake contractors commonly use VoIP phone services, so the phone numbers they list look like a local number. Furthermore, these scammers often verify multiple locations on Google Maps using the exact same address and telephone number.

Fake home service contractors impersonate home service contractors like locksmiths, plumbers, and electricians as a way for non accredited and/or unlicensed contractors to get unsuspecting customers to pay exorbitant rates for even a simple service such as being locked out of your home or vehicle.

Fake Restaurant and Hotel Listings

Abusive reservation services in the travel and food service industries will claim the Google My Business listing of a real restaurant or hotel. That triggers Google to send a verification postcard to the actual business. A few days later, the abusive listing service calls the actual restaurant or hotel and tricks someone there to tell them the verification PIN on the Google postcard.

Often the person who created the fake listing, claims to be Google to get the needed information. With the PIN, the abusive reservation service easily takes over the Google My Business account of the real business by replacing the actual listing with their newly verified listing. The new listing then links to the abusive listing service where customers can still make restaurant and hotel reservations at the real businesses but must pay a significant transaction or reservation fee.

Hijacked or Maliciously Edited Listings

Sometimes unethical business competitors might hijack another business’ listing in their same industry and area. They use similar practices to the ones that an abusive travel listings service might or register a duplicate listing and report the real listing as a duplicate.

However, a more common issue is when a scam artist, unlicensed contractor, abusive travel company, former employee, or a malicious competitor simply edits your existing Google My Business listing by replacing correct information with wrong information. You might get an email from Google for some types of edits to your listing, but not always. In fact, anybody can change the address of your business in your listing.

Lead Generation Company Listings

Everybody wants to generate leads and grow their business. There’s nothing wrong with that. As an online marketing company, we love to help our clients get more leads so they can grow their business. However, while that kind of lead generation is perfectly fine by Google, what they don’t want are shady lead gen companies dominating the Google search results or Google Maps.

A lead generation company simply creates listings, websites, or ads to get contact information of potential customers that they sell to other businesses. In some industries, lead gen companies have completely taken over the top spots in Google Search and Google Maps, pushing out real companies, many of whom are small local businesses.

Google doesn’t allow lead gen companies to create Google My Business listings, but that still doesn’t stop them. Again, this type of business is different from a marketing company that can create lead generation marketing campaigns that generate leads for your business.

Businesses with Virtual Office, UPS/Mailbox Store Addresses or Apartments

Google doesn’t allow businesses to register a business address that is a virtual office or a UPS or other mailbox store or PO Box. The address on a Google My Business listing must be an address where people can actually come to your business or an address where your employees are during your listed hours of operation. And by employees, they do not mean the employees of a virtual office company or the UPS store. This is a common tactic people think will work if they want to rank in another town, so they set up a fake listing at a virtual office. It’s not how local SEO really works, and it’s against Google’s guidelines.

Believe it or not, there are actually forums where shady business owners and black hat SEO’s congregate to share tips on how to create these kinds of listings. During my research, I found a question from a person asking for advice on how to create a listing for their lead gen website that he made up a fake address for!

Same Business Name at Different Locations

Sometimes scammers will create a fake business listing but use the name of a real business in the same city. All the information for the business will be the same, except for the location. Another scenario is when a company wants to rank for a different city from the one they’re in, so they create another listing at either a virtual location or another address.

Remember, Google doesn’t allow locations without an address or at a virtual office to have a listing with them. It’s also against their guidelines to create a duplicate listing for your business to improve your local search rankings for other nearby areas.

Intentional Duplicate Listings

Con artists can be pretty crafty when it comes to creating fake listings, and one practice is intentionally creating duplicate listings. Sometimes they hijack a real business and create a duplicate listing as we described in number 3, and other times they intentionally create a duplicate listing but at different addresses similar to the situation in number 6. Other times a business creates multiple listings for the same business because they think that will increase where they rank in Google search results. Intentionally creating duplicate listings is a blatant violation of Google’s guidelines and damages real businesses.

Completely Fake Business Names or Business Names that use Keyword Stuffing

Sometimes a business whether they’re a shady contractor, fake business, spammer, lead gen company, or scam artist will create multiple listings under fake business names that use VoIP phone numbers that all forward to the same primary number. Usually, they list false addresses or addresses that are virtual offices or a UPS store and are for seemingly different businesses but in an identical industry. Sometimes they might have variations of business names that are just keywords for the industry they’re targeting, for example, Best Plumber Near You. That’s probably not a real plumber, let alone the best one.

This is a particularly scammy tactic and one that has definitely earned Google’s label, “miscreant,” because it causes a lot of lost business for small local businesses by pushing them out of the search results until somebody catches them and reports them and convinces Google to remove the listings as fake. It’s a problem that’s been going on for years, and it’s beyond frustrating that Google can’t seem to fix this problem or keep the same shady businesses from creating new listings once they remove the old ones.

What about fake Google reviews?

Our last type of shady Google practice needs its own section. Fake reviews are a huge problem when it comes to spam and misleading information in Google search results and on Google Maps. It’s another area where Google claims they’ve cracked down. However, Erik and others in the digital marketing community haven’t noticed less fake reviews and just like with other types of spam and Google My Business listing scams. Google doesn’t do the best job at fighting or removing fake reviews without the help of unpaid volunteers like Erik. In fact, when I did a Google search using the term, “buying google reviews,” I found paid Google Ads for companies who sell fake Google reviews. What the heck Google!

It’s understandable that if you’re a small business owner, the prospect of a 1-star review might keep you up at night and you might be tempted to buy fake reviews yourself to try to bury a bad review or compete with any large corporate-backed competitors. You might not even realize, you can’t and shouldn’t buy reviews since there are so many companies who claim to specialize in SEO and online marketing who write and sell fake reviews.

Afterall, Google allows them to advertise with Google Ads. But if you’ve been a victim of negative fake reviews or seen a competitor who buys fake 5-star reviews, then you know first hand the negative impact fake Google reviews and fake reviews on other sites can have on a small business.

Even though Google displays their ads in their search results, and these companies even sometimes rank high up in Google’s own organic search results, Google’s own review policies do not allow fake reviews or purchased reviews. Google will remove flagged reviews they determine are fake, and they will suspend a business’ listing that they discover posts fake reviews.

How to recognize fake listings and spam on Google Maps

As you can see the problem is real and so large that if your business hasn’t been affected by fake listing and spam on Google Maps yet, it eventually will. We’ve given you a lot to consider, but if you want to help fike spam and fake reviews and listings on Google, the main things to look out for are:

Fake Address or UPS Store and Virtual Office Addresses

Multiple Listings for the Same Business

Fake Business Names

Business Names that are Keywords – e.g., Premier Local 24hr Locksmith

Hotel or Restaurant that redirects to a reservation site that charges a fee to book a room or table.

Suspiciously Fake Reviews – e.g., A business regularly has large numbers of 5-star Google reviews on their listing in Google Maps, especially anonymous 5-star reviews, and reviews from the same person for businesses in 2 or more different states or countries.

Do some additional research before you decide how to report these listings or expose them online. For some types of listings, you can submit edits to their Google My Business account within Google Maps. Google allows users to suggest edits on listings only from Google Maps and this option doesn’t appear in a regular Google search or on Google Chrome. But don’t just suggest edits without researching the correct answer first and in case your edit is denied, and you need to get help from the Google Local Guides forum or the Google My Business forum.

How to report spam and fake listings to Google

In the Google report, we mentioned earlier, they claim that problems with fake listings are only at 0.5% but in reality, you can see that Google Maps and Google’s search results are plagued with the problem of spam and fake information. With Google making money off the advertising dollar generated by the shady companies who sell reviews and Black Hat SEO services as well as from Lead Gen company PPC campaigns, you might feel powerless to fight back. Here’s how you can join Erik, BizIQ, and others in the online marketing and small business communities in the fight against fake reviews, spam, and fake listings on Google Maps.

Use the now popular #StopCrapOnTheMap and screenshots of what you discover to report your findings on Twitter. You don’t even have to tweet the hashtag at Google for them to notice. Google actually has people who keep track of the hashtag and will take a look at what you found. You might not see an instant result, but they do take this hashtag seriously, so be patient.

Submit your edits to a listing within Google Maps. Like we mentioned above, Google Maps allows you to submit edits including for things like incorrect business names, phone numbers and addresses. You can even alert Google that a location doesn’t exist or that a business is permanently closed this way. Just make sure you’re submitting accurate information.

Flag fake reviews for removal directly on the review in Google Maps. You can report fake reviews that a competitor, review seller, or disgruntled employee posted by going to your Google My Business account and following Google’s instructions. You can also flag fake reviews for removal you notice posted by other companies within their listing on Google Maps or the Local listing within Google search results. If it’s on Google Maps, you go to the 3 vertical dots and click on them to report the review. Within Google search results, you can report reviews by clicking on the flag at the top of an individual review within the business’’ local listing.

Create a post on one of the forums. If you notice problems with an unverified listing on Google Maps, you can post your findings and get help in the Local Guides forum. If the listing is verified, you can post about it in the Google My Business forum. Make sure you include links to the map listings and create individual posts for individual businesses (not each listing from the same company). Each of the forums has contributors who are authorized by Google to help resolve issues people find or have. In the Local Guides forum, they’re Level 5 Local Guides and in the Google My Business forums they’re called Top Contributors. These people can alert people at Google to the listings and habitual fake review policy violators.

There’s no guarantee that Google will suspend a listing or remove the fake reviews you find, but if fake listings and fake reviews are harming your business, you definitely want to report the problem and collect as much information as you can to ensure that the problem will be fixed. You won’t just be helping your own business, but small businesses in general.

What if I didn’t know something I did to market my business was against Google guidelines?

There’s a lot of misinformation online when it comes to marketing your business. As I already mentioned, you can even find Google Ads from companies that claim to partner with Google who sell services that actually violate Google’s own guidelines and wind up getting these businesses listing’s suspended which means they won’t show up in Google search results.

There are ways you can market your small business online that are more effective than shady listings tactics and purchasing fake reviews that are within Google’s guidelines, and that won’t get you removed from search results.

If you want to know how to relax and take control of your Google reviews that won’t potentially get your Google My Business listing suspended, head over to our local guides page and download the free e-book on responding to every type of Google review. That way you can relax about any 1-star review you receive and won’t be tempted to buy a pack of fake reviews.

If you accidentally did something that’s against Google guidelines when you created or claimed and verified your Google My Business listing, do not continue to do it. If it’s something another digital marketing company recommended you do or did for you, you should probably find another local online marketing company to help you manage your listing. If Google has already suspended your business listing, there are things you can do to fix any issues and to get it reinstated. Watch this video to find out more about Google My Business listing suspensions and how to fix them. Plus at BizIQ, we’re happy to answer any of your questions as well. Click on the chat bubble in the lower right corner to speak with a live marketer – not a robot – right now.

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BizIQ Now Adding Small Business Data to Amazon Alexa https://biziq.com/blog/news/biziq-now-adding-small-business-data-to-amazon-alexa/ https://biziq.com/blog/news/biziq-now-adding-small-business-data-to-amazon-alexa/#respond Mon, 27 Aug 2018 16:21:10 +0000 https://biziq.com/?p=4282 View Article]]> Every week it seems there’s a new way for Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology to make our day-to-day lives easier, and this week is no different.

Millions of American consumers use Amazon Alexa every day, and soon, they will be able to search for local business information with a simple voice query.

Is your drain clogged in Phoenix? “Alexa, find a plumber in Phoenix!” 
Did your dog eat your Halloween chocolate? “Alexa, call a vet!”

The possibilities are endless.

BizIQ is excited to announce that every one of our local SEO clients will be part of an exclusive group of businesses who will be among the first to have their information synced with Amazon Alexa! This service will be included completely free of charge to all current and future BizIQ customers wth an active local SEO subscription.

BizIQ has long been committed to giving small businesses a competitive edge in a digital world. This past year, we began including SSL encryption and a cutting edge global content delivery network (CDN) on all of our local SEO subscriptions as part of our SecureIQ update. Prior to that, we began offering updated spam protection for all of customers, again, completely free of charge. This exciting new opportunity is just one more way of fulfilling our mission of bringing big business solutions to our small business partners.

Are you a BizIQ customer with questions about this update to your service? Just reach out to your Account Manager. As always, we’re here to help. If you’re interested in joining the nearly 20,000 small businesses who trust BizIQ with their online marketing efforts, request a free website audit and we’ll show you in 10 minutes or less how you can get more from your marketing for less.

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Should You Use the Google Sites Website Builder? https://biziq.com/blog/website-design/should-you-use-the-google-sites-website-builder/ https://biziq.com/blog/website-design/should-you-use-the-google-sites-website-builder/#respond Fri, 24 Aug 2018 20:31:14 +0000 https://biziq.com/?p=4268 View Article]]> Recently, BizIQ Google My Business team manager, Danni Petersen discovered a possible issue with the free websites that companies can create within Google My Business as well as a lot of confusing information online when it came to Google and free website builders.

Back in 2017, Google quietly rolled out a new feature within Google My Business in the form of a free website builder that can create a free website for your small business by pulling in information directly from your Google My Business listing. You don’t have to do much except press a few buttons and voila, website! Sounds pretty neat, right?

At the time it rolled out, all the latest Google My Business account features for your listing hadn’t been added yet, so there wasn’t that much to pull from. Now that Google has brought back business descriptions, added a questions and answers capability, plus other enhancements like Google Posts, and the ability to add services or menu items and photos, it’s tempting to forego a real website and just use the Google My Business Website Builder instead. However, that might be a huge mistake.

is a free website builder really the way to go

Google has at least 4 free website builders.

First, I need to clear up some of the confusion. Why? Because Google has at least 4 free website builders. When Danni performed a search, she first used a term for another free Google website builder, Google Sites, that is aimed at small business owners. She also discovered that if a business owner has a verified Google My Business listing that they can choose to let Google auto-generate a website for them using something called a Google My Business Website Builder. To make things even more difficult, there are 2 different versions of Google Sites. I did some more research and here’s what I discovered:

Google Classic Sites

Google Classic sites are also geared towards small businesses, specifically businesses who use another Google G Suite product. This website builder allows you to create a company website using templates. Websites created with the Classic Site builder can be public or private.

They can exist as a subdomain on the Google Sites domain, or you can register your own domain just like you, or an online marketing company does when you create a website. In the first case, your website URL would be https://sites.google.com/a/whatever domain you choose.com. In the second one, your Classic Site is like any website and would have a URL like https://whatever domain you choose.com.

Google New Sites

Basically, Google Classic Sites and Google New Sites are almost identical. They’re kind of like those fraternal twins you knew in school who look almost exactly alike, but they’re not. If you look really closely, you start to see the differences. We’re not going to go into all of them, but there are a couple you need to be aware of.

While they’re very similar products as far as building a website goes, Google New Sites has different content policies from Classic Sites. That could cause an issue for any business that decides they want to convert from a classic site to a new site. Unlike Classic Sites, New Sites is part of Google Drive, so things like sharing are controlled in your Google Drive settings.

Google Domains

While technically not a website builder, Google encourages users to create a website themselves in conjunction with another website builder product immediately after setting up their domain.

It’s no secret that I’m not a big fan of do-it-yourself website builders, and neither is BizIQ. As a company, we think they’re a bit of a disservice to most small businesses and aren’t always as simple to use as they might seem at first. Although some of these popular companies claim to have some built-in Search Optimization (SEO) features, SEO is far too complicated and multi-layered for you to try and do yourself or for you to trust a plugin with. It really takes an experienced SEO or team of SEO experts.

Google My Business Website Builder

And finally Google My Business’ website builder. Again, the concept seems great on the surface. All you do is go to the dashboard in your Google My Business account and click the Website menu. After that Google automatically creates a mobile-optimized website for you using the information and photos from your Google My Business listing. You can further customize the website yourself if you want from within that same menu. When you’re satisfied with it, you hit publish. That’s it.

However, Danni discovered a huge problem with this last website builder that makes us wonder why nobody else in our industry is talking about it.

What’s the problem with the Google My Business free website builder?

Since the websites are made using your photos and posts from your Google My Business listing, if you have to transfer ownership of your account to someone else or someone hijacks your listing by creating a duplicate, your entire website just disappears. There’s no way to retrieve your website or transfer the domain to a new one. It’s just gone. Poof!

Every piece of business generated content you added to your Google My Business account, including all the photos, services, posts, and images that Google used to create your website just disappear and if you contact Google My Business support, they don’t know what you’re talking about or how to help. How do we know?

Because Danni spent a lot of time on hold and talking to several Google My Business support representatives and they had no answers for how the problem could be fixed, how a business could get their website files, or if you could transfer your auto-generated website to a new website host server. They couldn’t even tell her what happens to all the images and content from the old website.

Losing your auto-generated Google My Business website creates online listing inaccuracies.

At this point, you might be thinking, “well, that’s annoying, but I can just have Google generate a new one from my new listing.” You can. But what happens to your website address, the URL, on all the listing services you’re on when Google deletes your old site because your Google My Business account changed?

Everyone who clicks on the link when they find your business on one of these services gets a big, fat, ugly “404 site not found” error. Considering that these people are usually new customers, what does this do to your reputation? How much potential business could it cost you? You know all those people are just going to do business with one of your competitors instead.

Google uses your Google My Business website to create content for any Google Smart Campaigns you’re running.

Read that one again. The fact that Google uses your Google My Business website to create ads and landing pages for any Google Ads Smart Campaigns you’re running means, if you change ownership of your listing or someone hijacks your listing and creates a duplicate, it impacts all the content of your online advertising campaigns. Even if you create your own ad content yourself, Google still creates “alternate ad text,” to create new ads from your Google My Business website.

That’s right, if you’re using Adwords Express, now Google Ads Smart Campaigns, to manage your PPC campaigns, if you lost your Google My Business auto-generated website, then those campaigns are going to be affected. Unlike your Google My Business listing, your online advertising campaigns aren’t free. And yet, a free Google product has now potentially cost you money because it interfered with advertising you’re paying Google to manage. The only thing you can do when information from your Google My Business account that’s linked to your Adwords Express advertising or your Google Smart Campaigns is used is to add your new listing to your Google Ads account, describe your business, and set up a new ad.

While it’s tempting to let Google just generate a free website for you, it won’t actually save you money in the long run.

I totally understand how much you want to cut costs. Being a small business owner is tough. I’m considering turning my jewelry making hobby into a business. Just trying to figure out how to find the money and budget for materials is expensive. Let alone worrying about creating a website and marketing the business once it’s set up, and I work in online marketing- However, I will never let Google auto-generate a website for me or use a DIY website builder of any kind, and you shouldn’t either.

While the Google My Business website is technically free, how much money could you lose in ad spend and lost business when you need to change the ownership of your Google My Business account, or there’s another problem with your Google listing? Plus there’s all the time you’ll have to spend creating a new website, updating your listing on countless directory websites, as well as setting up all new Google Ads campaigns. If you ask me, it’s just not worth it.

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