Over the course of the second half of 2020, we have seen a large increase in the hijacking of Google My Business (GMB) listings. This occurs when an unscrupulous individual(s) takes control of a listing that does not belong to them. While not a new issue, this growing trend gives pause for concern.
Why is GMB hacking a problem?
Imagine a scenario in which a competitor gains control of your GMB listing. They could potentially wreak havoc by responding negatively to reviews, altering service offerings & opening times, contact details, altering your location settings or even redirecting your leads.
How are third parties hijacking GMB listings?
Joy Hawkins from SterlingSky has reported on the trend and some of the efforts being used by spammers and scammers. One of the ways this is occurring is through requests by malicious accounts via the “claim this business” feature 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 recognise,” Joy says.
According to Joy, Google has been notified several times on this issue, with over 80 responses to it on the GMB forum.
How to protect against GMB hijacking?
1. Check your Google My Business (GMB) listing at least monthly, or weekly, if possible.
2. Immediately delete any email requests from third parties requesting access & report the message as spam/phishing.
3. Try to have only a small amount of managers on your GMB listing. This will reduce the possibility of a team member unwittingly clicking to allow a third-party access.
4. Make sure that your Google My Business (GMB) listing account is the same account as your Google Analytics and Google Search Console linked to your website. This will clearly show the search engine that you are the owner and should reuse the chance of them mistakenly approving any malicious requests.
5. Protect against brute force logins on your website, ensuring passwords are strong. It’s recommended to use a plugin such as Loginizer or Wordfence, if using a WordPress website.
6. Use a firewall.
7. Remove redundant, suspicious or unknown user accounts from the backend pop your website.
8. Keep your software updated.
What do I do if someone hijacks my GMB listing?
Prevention is the best cure. However, if you are unlucky enough to have your Google My Business account successfully hijacked you should see this form to contact Google immediately https://support.google.com/business/contact/gmb_3p_complaint.
Want to learn more about Google My Business Listings? Want to find out how to get one for your Business in Perth? Get in touch with us today!