As a business owner there are often many imposters trying to pose as your business online, seeking to direct your customers toward their own content or services. One of the most common ways they can do this is by gaining control of your ‘Google My Business’ listing, a powerful and free resource that all business owners should be using. We’ve covered specifics of the service and incentives for registration in a past blog post Seven Reasons Why Every Restaurant Should Verify Their Google Business Listing.
Impostors are able to take advantage of the simplicity of Google’s registration process to obtain initial control of your listing. By doing this, they are in effect assuming your Google identity and controlling the information customers see when searching for your business.
You’ll know this has happened if…
…either your business already has information provided in the Google My Business sections of search results that you’re not responsible for, or if you’ve tried to register your business and gotten a message that someone else has already verified the listing. If you’re one of the many restaurant owners that find your business has been claimed by someone else, Google provides steps to go through in order gain rightful control of your restaurant’s Google presence.
Easily navigate the process by opening the ‘Begin the Process’ button and continuing to read our explanation of the three steps below.
Why is this process necessary?
Since it’s incredibly difficult for Google to immediately know who the true owner of a business is, there’s first a step that requires you to request access back from the Google user who currently has control of your listing. Once you’ve submitted this request there is a waiting period of seven to fourteen days while Google gives the current ‘owner’ a chance to respond.
This may seem unfair and inconvenient, especially as you know that you are the legitimate owner of this business. Keep in mind, however, that it’s currently the best way for the massive, global Google to automate the transfer of account ownership on this scale without having to intervene directly. This actually speeds up and simplifies the process. Imagine how long it would take if Google had to do this one-by-one!
The request process itself is also structured in a way to ultimately find true business owners, as it’s in Google’s best interest to provide accurate listings to their customers. They use tricks to weed out imposters, such as taking advantage of the assumption that many will not respond or attempt to fight your request within the granted seven to fourteen days. Simultaneously, Google is also comparing information provided through the registration process by both you and the imposter to find ‘clues’ pointing towards the rightful owner. After you’ve gotten your deserved ownership, this process is also their best method of making sure that you are able to maintain your Google My Business ownership status by being able to refute future requests from imposters through email in real-time.
If you ever think that Google is being difficult, remember that in this case they are trying to work in your favor. By ensuring that they’ve found the true owner of a business’ listing they are also guaranteeing more accurate search results, and in turn making their users happy.
What to do next
1. Request access from the current owner
- First, you’ll choose your business by beginning to type it’s name in the space provided and selecting it in the search results that appear.
- Next, you’ll confirm or correct your business’ address and select whether your business delivers your product. If you do provide delivery as a service, the next page will prompt you for more details regarding your delivery type and region.
- The next page asks you to locate your business on a map.
- Afterwards, you’ll be prompted to indicate the kind of business you run. Try to make this as descriptive of your business’ central product as you can.
- Finally, provide your business’ accurate phone number and website.
After these prompts Google should inform you that your business has already been claimed, which you already know. They give you a hint as to who has already claimed this listing in the form of a sentence similar to as follows, “This listing has already been verified by si…@gmail.com”. The ‘si…@gmail.com’ in this instance is just a clue Google will give you as to has already verified the listing, in the form of a snippet. If you recognize this email address, make sure you haven’t done this process in the past, or it wasn’t completed by someone else in your operation.
If none of this applies to you, finish the request process by selecting the ‘request access’ button.
2. Wait seven to fourteen days and respond accordingly
There are three possibilities to how this request process can turn out depending on the response of the current account holder and the investigative work of Google’s tools:
3. Protect your listing after regaining ownership
After you have control of your store’s Google presence be sure to safeguard the ownership of your Google My Business listing by monitoring future ownership requests from imposters. Google will notify you of these attempts and give you the opportunity to refute them through the email address you used to register your restaurant with Google My Business