We recently read of a rare foods restaurant, Serbian Crown, that experienced a 75 percent drop-off in weekend customers. The restaurant, which served up lion, horse and kangaroo, said it was because someone else edited its Google Maps listing and incorrectly stated they were closed on weekends. The restaurant closed in 2013.
The same article includes the unscrupulous practices of a Buffalo, New York jewelry store owner who posted unfavorable Google reviews on competitor’s listings and even managed to mark one of them as ‘permanently closed’ while posting five-star reviews for his own jewelry store.
You can read the complete article, How Google Map Hackers Can Destroy a Business at Will, on Wired.com.
This provides a valuable lesson for franchise business owners. Google Maps is a crowdsourcing project. There are several ways others could tamper with your business listing without your knowledge.
We’re sure Google’s working to make its Maps and local search service more secure, but until it is, we recommend being vigilant about your own business listing on Google Maps. Search for your business on your mobile device and desktop computer at least monthly to see how the listing appears.
If you haven’t created a Google My Business page yet, you should. And then share photos and video of your business through your page (these appear on the local search results for your business).
At least make sure your contact information and hours of business are correct because Google has the lion’s share of online search traffic (about 80 percent) and you want to make sure you don’t end up out of business like Serbian Crown did.