Google has been making many changes to how businesses manage their Google Business Profiles (formerly known as Google My Business or GMB). Although not a new capability or practice by Google, businesses began to see a drastic increase in automatic “Google Updates” in early 2022. Left unacknowledged, Google can automatically update information on your profile without you noticing, potentially causing significant changes to your profile visibility.
Understanding Google Business Profile Automatic Updates
Google is focused on providing a good experience for its users. The better a user’s experience, the more time they will spend on Google, which then turns into more exposure for Google Ads (the company’s main source of revenue). A gripe that users have been vocal about is outdated information when they search for local businesses on Google. Nothing is more frustrating than finding a place on Google and driving there only to find it has been closed for two months. Therefore, Google wants to ensure businesses have the most up-to-date information possible. Location, name, hours, services, and business categories are all fair game for these updates.
In Google’s help documentation, they state:
“To keep your Business Profile as accurate as possible, Google uses information from a variety of sources. For example, user reports and licensed content. If sources report that your profile info is incorrect or outdated, your profile gets updates from Google that you can review.”
Here’s what we know about Google’s sources in the statement above:
It is more commonly referred to as third-party content and is content that has been created somewhere else. These are most commonly in the form of third-party apps that have access to your Google Business Profile. If you use a service like Yext or seoClarity and integrate them with Google, information can be pushed from one to the other.
Information from a Variety of Services
This catch-all phrase in the document leaves plenty of guessing room but there are ways we know for a fact they are sourced.
- User-suggested Content: Google users are often prompted to make suggestions on profiles. If Google receives many of the same suggestions from trusted google users, it can send strong signals for updates.
Suggesting an edit on a Google Business Profile from search or maps
- Your Website: Google crawls your website often. Based on its understanding of your website, it can gather enough information to be confident in changing your profile.
- Other Websites/Directories: As Google crawls the web, it gathers information on your business from your website and other sites that have information on your business. If you have listings on directories or social media that have conflicting information, it can also give Google a reason to suggest edits.
“Google Updates” Automation: Helpful or Harmful?
These Google updates are often helpful, but certainly not always. If you own a brewery that just so happens to also host weddings and private parties and you forgot to add it to your services, great! Good on Google.
Google automatically updates a brewery to include private party space and weddings
But unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. We’ve seen, for example, a well-drilling contractor that had Google automatically add “municipal water supply” to their services. Now their company appears for the search query “municipal water supply,” and suddenly the company is flooded with calls from local residents trying to pay their water bill!
Google Maps showing well drilling companies for the search term “municipal water supply”
Can I Turn Off Automatic Google Business Profile Updates?
For those businesses or marketers that work daily in Google Business Profiles, these updates have certainly proved more of a nuisance than a help. In a back-and-forth message I had with a Google service rep, I asked if it’s possible to “opt out” of Google Updates.
It is not possible to keep Google from adding suggested updates to your Google Business Profile.
How to See Pending Google Business Profile Updates
Luckily, Google gives a bit of time before automatically applying updates, and you always have the opportunity to submit changes (whether it’s been published or not).
You can access your profile through one of the following three ways:
- On business.google.com
- On the Google Maps app
- By typing your business name or “my business” into the Google search bar
On the main Google Business Profile page (business.google.com), you will automatically see a banner with the following text:
“A business category [or service] was added or removed from your Business Profile on Google. Review your updated business category to make changes to your services.”
There will then be an option to accept all updates. Note how there is no button for “decline all,” so to find what has been updated, you’ll have to do a bit of scrolling through your business details and look for orange lettering (signifying an update). You can delete any suggestions by clicking on the pencil icon, or looking for a “view info” button.
Google Business Profile banner for new, automatically updated information
Through Google Search, you will see a tab for your business. By clicking on “Edit profile,” then “Business information” and scrolling through the different business info, a banner will appear for anything that’s been updated. You can proceed to edit any information by clicking on the pencil icon.
Editing your Business Profile through Google search
Banner through Google Search showing “your business category was updated”
How Can I Combat Inaccurate Google Business Profile Updates?
First, businesses should ensure that their online presence is accurate and consistent across the web. It is crucial to providing Google the most up-to-date information wherever it looks (or crawls).
Next, companies must check their Google Business Profile for updates at least weekly. We have seen phone numbers changed to old (out-of-service) phone numbers and many business categories and/or services changed that can direct the wrong users to your site.
Make sure that your Google Business Profile is optimized at all times by following this checklist:
- Ensure consistency in directories across the web for your business name, address, phone number (NAP), business description, categories and services
- Regularly update your business hours including holidays and special circumstances
- Organize your business services and categories to be as clear and targeted to your end user as possible
- Check weekly via Google Business Profile, Google Maps, or Google search that your business information, business category and services are accurate and haven’t been updated automatically by Google
- If Google has updated information, determine whether the updates are accurate, and accept or reject them
Atigro works with many different types of companies to ensure that their business information is consistent across 50+ web directories and social media platforms. If you are looking for Local SEO strategic guidance or ongoing SEO management, let’s talk about your digital marketing needs today.