For any local business that qualifies, claiming your Google Business Profile is a must-do to help your business rank higher on Google.
Regularly optimizing your business profile with content such as posts, new products or services, holiday hours, photos, and other updated information about your company keeps your listing fresh and current for potential customers.
But did you know that the information on your Google Business Profile could get changed at any moment? In many cases, these changes go live without you even knowing it.
Some updates to your business profile could even impact your business.
If your profile is changed, you should receive an email letting you know of any changes or suggestions. But that’s not always the case.
That’s why it’s crucial that you keep an eye on your business profile and frequently check for changes to your company’s information.
In this column, you’ll learn why Google updates Business Profiles, where that information comes from, and what you can do to ensure that people searching for local products and services like yours are always presented with the most timely, accurate information when they see your listing in search.
First, let’s look at how Google gathers business information to change your Google Business Profile.
Then we will look at the four top reasons for these changes.
Why Does Google Change Business Profile Information?
Keep in mind that some of the changes made to your profile can actually be helpful.
For instance, if you’re violating a Google guideline and someone suggests an edit to correct the violation, they could be saving you from a Business Profile suspension.
You may not be happy with the change, but it could put you in compliance with Google’s guidelines. That’s a good thing.
Or, if your business hours are wrong and a customer corrects your hours on your Business Profile, it can save other customers from driving to your business when you’re closed.
But if a competitor changes your URL to their website or an up-to-no-good student changes your high school’s website to a porn site, that can be disastrous.
(Yes, that happened at my kids’ high school. It took the school at least 24 hours to realize its URL had changed and change it back to its website. All the kids had a good laugh about it!)
In addition to the email alert, you should also see a blue notification when managing your Google Business Profile in Google search when your profile has been updated.
Review the updates to make sure they’re accurate.
Google’s goal is to give searchers the most accurate and complete information about a business.
To get correct information about a company, it scours the internet and gathers data from a variety of sources:
- Publicly available information such as a company website, citations/online business directories, government sources, etc.
- Licensed data Google gets from third parties.
- User-supplied information, such as reviews, photos, suggested edits, Q&As, etc.
- Information Google gets based on interactions with a local place or business.
- Google’s Artificial Intelligence technology.
Based on the information Google finds or receives from these resources, Google may change the information on a business profile if it thinks it needs additions or changes.
Many business owners get bent out of shape if their information gets changed. Keep in mind that the company doesn’t own its business profile – it’s Google’s.
Google Business Profile is a free service that Google offers, and it’s really a community-generated and contributed-to profile. Google has always been pro-user-generated content – and that’s what the internet is all about!
Plus, user-generated content gives other people interested in your business more information about your company.
Searchers get a combination of information provided by business owners, customers, and other sources.
This gives people a well-rounded idea of what your company is about so they can make an educated decision about your business. Many business owners simply don’t keep their business profiles current and updated, so it makes sense for other people – or Google – to update inaccurate profile information.
Now that you understand a bit of how and why your Google Business Profile information gets changed, let’s take a look at some of the common ways profile info gets updated.
1. User Suggestions
If a user thinks a company’s business profile has inaccurate information or the business should be removed, they can suggest an edit or flag the business profile for removal.
You can make “Suggest an Edit” in Google search, Google Maps, or the Google Maps app.
In Google search, you can see the “Suggest an edit” link right in the company’s Business Profile Knowledge Panel:
User edits come in handy if a customer visits your company and finds your hours are incorrect, your website isn’t listed in your profile, or any other inaccurate or missing information.
On the flipside, competitors can also suggest edits if they find out you’re violating Google’s guidelines – or simply want to wreak havoc.
Digital marketers will also suggest edits to help their clients, too.
For example, if a clients’ competitors are outranking them because they are violating Google’s guidelines, the client can fight the “spam” by reporting the rule-breakers with suggested edits or a Redressal Form.
Suggesting an edit and getting Google to publish changes is easy if the user suggests correct information.
In the example below, the business keyword stuffed their business name – which violates Google’s guidelines. The suggested edit was a correction of the business name.
When users suggest edits, Google reviews the suggested edits and decides whether or not to make those changes.
Within about five minutes of submitting the suggested edit, the user received an email notifying them that their suggested changes were published.
When you search for the business name, sure enough, the business’s name was changed and is now in compliance.
Another way Google gathers data about a business (which also helps confirm if the information a business provides is accurate or not) is through the “Know this place” link in a company’s Knowledge Panel.
When customers click on this link, they are asked questions about the business.
These questions are specifically created to help Google understand the business and help validate the information the business owner has provided in their Google Business Profile.
People can also make suggestions from Google Maps.
Users with the Google Maps App on a mobile device can also describe a business’s services options, highlights, accessibility, special food and drinks, amenities and more, in addition to the normal suggested edits, such as hours, website URL, business name, etc.,
As you can see from these user suggestions, this information provides other searchers with even more information about this business.
2. Google Finds Information From Other Sources Online
In some cases, Google updates or changes information in your Google Business Profile based on the info it finds on other online resources.
An example of this type of change includes the descriptions Google creates under a business’s name in the Knowledge Panel.
You often see these brief descriptions in restaurant business profiles where they show some of the types of food the restaurant offers or info about the restaurant itself.
In one instance, someone came to the Google Business Profile Help Forum and wanted their restaurant’s Google dynamically-created description changed because they didn’t sell tapas anymore.
However, when I researched, I found that one of the restaurant’s online directories had “tapas” as a featured item on the restaurant’s listing. So Google was pulling in tapas from that citation site.
Another example happened to me.
I went to add something to my digital marketing agency’s business profile and was surprised to see that Google added “pest control” as one of my digital marketing agency’s services.
It turns out Google scraped my website and found a page where I mentioned a client I had – a pest control company!
Since they found that information on my company’s website, their AI thought my business offered that service.
(Needless to say, I did not accept that change.)
Google can also change your hours, business name, and other information. Here’s an example where Google added pickup time hours for an appliance store.
(Pickup time hours were not set previously.)
However, in this case, it’s difficult to tell where Google got this (mis)information because the appliance store’s website has their hours clearly listed – and they are never open past 5:00 p.m.
And, unfortunately for this business, these incorrect pickup hours were already made live before the business had an opportunity to approve or reject these business profile changes.
This is just one more reason to ensure the information on your website, the citation sites your company is listed on, and other online resources match your Google Business Profile exactly.
3. Third-Party Tools Connected To Your Google Business Profile
Sometimes you may have an app or software tool connected to your Google Business Profile – and you might not even realize it.
If you are using optimization tools, you might even intentionally connect a tool to your business profile. However, often these tools can make unwanted changes to your profile.
For example, a Service Area Business (SAB) I know discovered that their business profile was suddenly suspended after their physical address was added to their profile.
(Service Area Businesses cannot display their address in their Google Business Profile.)
Since they didn’t add their address back to their profile, they were completely puzzled by what happened. As it turns out, they unknowingly had a Google Business Profile tool attached to their profile.
For some reason, that software added their address to their Business Profile – which got their profile suspended!
Typically, before giving a tool access to your business profile, you’ll see a dialog like below where Google ensures you want to grant access to your Google Account.
I don’t recommend connecting third-party tools to your Google Business Profile unless absolutely necessary.
It’s also a good idea to see what tools and apps have access to your Google Accounts – especially your Google Business Profile. To view the tools you’ve given permission to:
- Visit your Google Account Permissions.
- Click on the app or service you want to review to see its access rights.
3. You can then determine if you want that tool to continue accessing your business profile.
It’s also a good idea to go through this process at least once a month to ensure that no tools have inadvertently been granted permission to your Google Accounts.
4. Google Using AI To Update Information On Google Business Profiles
This option to change info on your business profile is new, and we’re not sure how it will play out, but Google is now starting to use AI to update information on Google Business Profiles.
Using various sources, such as the hours of competitors, the business sign on your storefront (as seen from Street View), suggestions from Google Maps users, and other resources, Google’s AI algorithm can update business hours on a Google Business Profile.
Google plans to update the hours of 20+ million businesses globally in the next six months.
(So keep an extra close watch on your hours!)
How To Manage Changes To Your Google Business Profile
So what do you do if your Google Business Profile information gets changed? First, you’ll receive an email.
Screenshot from Outlook, April 2022If you only have one location, manage your profile directly on Google Search:
- Sign in to the Google account you use to manage your business profile.
- Search for your exact business name on Google. You may need to add the city you’re located in. You can also search for “my business.”
- If needed, to manage your Business Profile, select View profile.
- In the menu above the search results, choose Edit profile.
Click through the various options until you find the blue changes that Google made to your profile.
Note: It’s important to note that Google changed the public information in the Knowledge Panel before the business accepted or rejected the change:
If the changes Google made are correct, you can click Accept.
To change/reject the change Google made, click on the section you want to edit (you’ll see the pencil icon) and then edit/change the information:
Next, click Save to save your changes.
Pay Attention To Your Google Business Profile Changes
Hopefully, this information helps you understand various changes that Google, users, your competitors, and others can make to your Google Business Profile.
Your business profile is one of your most important local SEO strategies. It’s important to check your information often to ensure it’s correct, no one has been up to mischief, or Google didn’t just make a huge mistake by wrongly changing your information.
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