Hijacked Google My Business Listings On The Rise
Joy Hawkins

In the last couple of months, we’re seeing a large increase in the number of Google My Business listings that are getting hijacked.  A hijack is when a malevolent user gets a hold of a listing that they don’t own and changes the core information on it to something that they can benefit from.

For example, weeks ago, this listing was called “Car Accident Lawyer Rosenberg” and the phone number on it led to a phone tree that sells leads to personal injury lawyers.

After reporting it to Google My Business via the Redressal Form it returned to its original state.  The increase in this type of spam likely explains why we’re also seeing an increase in the number of suspensions.

How are users hijacking these listings?

There are a number of sketchy tactics that these people utilize.  These people have been at it for years and every time Google cracks down on the tactic they’re using, they come up with a new one.  Hijacking just appears to be the latest thing that’s “working”.

One of the ways I believe that someone can effectively hijack a listing is to request access to it via the “claim this business” label that appears in the Knowledge Panel.  We are seeing a huge increase in the number of complaints from users that are getting email requests to manage their listing from people they don’t recognize.  This thread on the GMB forum about the issue has over 80 responses.  The issue has been brought up to Google several times.

If you get one of these emails, my recommendation is to simply delete it.  Also, it’s a very good idea not to have tons of managers on your Google My Business listing.  Having more users increases the likeliness that one of them could accidentally click it and give an unauthorized party control of your business listing.

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Joy is the owner of the Local Search Forum, LocalU, and Sterling Sky, a Local SEO agency in Canada & the USA. She has been working in the industry since 2006, writes for publications such as Search Engine Land, and enjoys speaking regularly at marketing conferences such as MozCon, LocalU, Pubcon, SearchLove, and State of Search. You can find her on Twitter or volunteering as a Product Expert on the Google My Business Forum.