As with most types of businesses, when it comes to successful inbound marketing and SEO strategies, you need the right tools for the job. More importantly, you must fully understand how to best implement those tools in order to be successful. For local businesses, one of those all-important tools is Google My Business.
Before we go into detail about what Google My Business is, here is a light-hearted look at how pranksters have manipulated some listings to great (and funny) effect.
Google Maps Pranks
Earlier this year, a school in Yorkshire was renamed ‘Hell on Earth’ in Google Maps after a pupil submitted a name change on Google Maps. To everyone’s surprise, Hornsea School and Language College appeared on Google maps as “Hornsea Prison & Hell on Earth”.
It wasn’t long before the prank was spotted and fixed but it just shows how easy it is to use the app and manipulate data. A spokesperson for the school stated that they were aware of the prankster’s identity and that the suspect was in fact a current student.
That was not the first time users abused Google Maps as UK football stadiums have proven especially popular. Manchester United’s Old Trafford stadium is also known as the Theatre of Dreams and was renamed the ‘Theatre of Sh**e’ in 2015. They weren’t the only ones as Tottenham’s White Hart Lane stadium was also renamed to a ‘Sh**e hole’.
Another famous place that fell victim to a Google maps prank was New York. Its name was briefly changed to ‘Jewtropolis’ on Mapbox in August 2018.
How Does This Happen?
Making it easy to suggest name changes was part of the platform’s policy. The aim was to enable users to personally suggest place names and not for users to play silly pranks. The problem comes in when a business owner has not officially been registered with Google Maps as the process of renaming doesn’t need to be verified with the relevant location.
While there may have been several pranks, the pros still outweigh the cons. As Google stated, “Allowing users to suggest information provides comprehensive and up-to-date info, but we recognise there may be occasional inaccuracies suggested by users. When this happens we do our best to address the issue as quickly as possible.”
Talking to the BBC, head teacher Steve Ostler said, “We recommend that all schools take ownership of their Google map icon to prevent any copy-cat behaviours.”
It may not be a serious act ‘cybercrime’ but these pranks could impact businesses that rely on this technology. At the time of the incident, a spokesperson for the school was not available for comment and it is unclear whether the prankster was reprimanded.
What Exactly Is Google My Business?
Google My Business, or GMB for short, is a free and simple tool that helps businesses manage their online presence and appearance in Google Search and on Google Maps.
Have you ever searched for the name of a specific business? When you do, you will often notice that their Google My Business “knowledge panel” or card with important information customers need show up first.
If you’re doing a mobile search, it often appears at the top before organic results. When using your desktop to search, it is displayed to the right of the organic and paid search results. Here are two examples based on some of our clients, Elite Garages and Space Centre Self Storage:
Important Information On Google My Business
Based on the images, you can see that the knowledge card displays loads of valuable information. It is important to include whatever the customers will need to know about the business. Some of the information includes:
- Business Name and type
- Physical Address
- Trading hours
- Phone Number
- Website link
- Link to Google Maps
- Customer Reviews
- Overall Star Rating
- Popular times to visit
- Related Searches
These information cards provide a lot of important points at first glance. It provides a quick overview of a business and whether or not the user wants to visit. The major benefits of using Google My Business is to increase visibilty in search results, improved shopping experience for buyers and increased traffic to your website, social media channels and physical premises.
A well-optimised Google My Business page can really help Google understand more about your business. It gives details about who you are, what services/products you sell, your location and your web address. The more Google knows about your business, the more types of searches your business listing could appear in.
If you need help setting up new GMB listings or optimising your existing ones, contact us today for a free consultation. We specialise in all things digital marketing, social media management, marketing automation, responsive web design and more.