You may think that only business owners can manage a business’ presence on Google — but you’d be wrong. Recently, The Toronto Star ran a story about businesses being misrepresented on Google Maps, and the truth is, someone editing information about your business on Google can significantly jeopardize your business’ reputation.
Aitous Rasouli spoke with the Star about how his business, a salon called House of Aitous, has recently been misrepresented on Google as House of Falafel, a restaurant. This might seem like a silly mistake on the part of an innocent bystander, but the truth may be far more sinister.
“Someone’s doing this to hack us and take business from the location,” Rasouli said.
The Star also spoke with Sydney Eatz and Richard Trus — members of Toronto’s Local Guides community, which works to improve Google Maps by adding information and writing reviews about businesses. They were the ones to alert Rasouli to the possibility that someone had intentionally misrepresented his business in order to sabotage it.
The reality is that anyone can suggest edits to a location on Google Maps and leave reviews of a business. They can change business hours and/or contact information. And while many people are only trying to be helpful when they make edits, Eatz and Trus told The Star that there are ways to “weaponize” Google Maps to hurt businesses. Trus said some people even change the information of competitors to draw customers to their business instead.
And while Klein said Google utilizes “automated systems” in order to detect fraud, business owners should really claim their own businesses on Google Maps to try to prevent problems.
So how do you go about claiming your business on Google?
All you really have to do is visit the Google My Business page on a desktop, then click the Start Now link. You then sign in to your Google account, or create an account if you don’t already have one.
After you sign in, type your business name in the appropriate spot, and Google will see if there’s already a page on Maps for it. If your business is there, you can click through and continue. But if it’s not on the list, if you give Google more information about your business, it can create your listing. If you get a message that someone else has already verified the listing and you’re the owner of the business, you’ll have to click “Request ownership” and follow the directions to claim your business for yourself.
After you’ve confirmed that you’re authorized to manage the business and added all the necessary information, you’ll have to get verified, which is another process. But if you’ve reached that point, you’re well on your way to claiming your business on Google and better protecting its reputation.
In the information age, every business owner has to be extra careful that their company is represented correctly and fairly on the internet. It might mean a little more work for a small business owner, but it’s well worth it to give potential customers accurate information about your enterprise.