Google My Business: Debunking Google My Business Myths in 2015

debunking google my business myths in 2015

As usual in the SEO industry, there are quite a few myths floating around regarding Google My Business. Whether these myths stem from outdated information and tactics (2008 style SEO), misinterpreted statistical studies and misinterpreted Google terms of service or are blatantly disseminated for the intent of deceiving Google My Business users is irrelevant. The fact remains that they are indeed myths and should be disregarded. So without further ado, let’s debunk!

google my business myths debunkedTL:DR Version: Don’t use Bulk Feeds if you want to get the most out of Google My Business.

If you’d like to know why, keep on trucking down the page.

Myth #1: Only Google My Business Listing Owners can update listing information.

There’s no way to sugar coat this one as anything other than a blatant falsehood, so I’m not going to bother. Both Owners and Managers of a listing can make edits, change the phone number, description, URL, upload photos, respond to reviews and deal with duplicate page removal (via contacting Google My Business Support). Managers themselves cannot add other managers or remove other managers. They also can’t delete a Google My Business Page or transfer ownership of one. Aside from that… a manager of your Google My Business Page can do everything else the owner can. Communications Managers, however, are limited to responding to guest reviews and posting for the business and can’t edit or change the Google My Business Page — they can post photos, though I wouldn’t consider this editing the page information, personally.

google my business owners & managers

Myth #2: You can only manage more than 10 My Business Listings via Bulk Upload.

Our agency is currently managing over 62 Google My Business Listings from a central manager Google account that has been added to each of the listings as a manager. None of these listings are in a bulk feed. We tried that for about 6 months and threw the strategy out the window as it wasn’t as effective as managing them through a central manager account in the My Business Dashboard due to the limitations and faults with the Bulk Management Tool. As a manager, you can maintain as many Google My Business Listings as owners will give you access to.

managing more than 10 google my buisness listings

Myth #3: Having my Google My Business Listing in a Bulk Feed correlates with higher local SEO ranking.

There’s absolutely no basis behind this claim. It’s a fallacy. In fact, in most cases having your Google My Business listing in a bulk feed can actually HINDER your SEO performance. That’s right – it can actually HURT your SEO performance in Google. There are fields on a Google My Business page that can help your organic ranking – but they require a little TLC and you can’t use them to their full effect if you’re pushing information into those fields via bulk upload. In addition, bulk uploads have character limits for the fields, while directly inputting the data into the Google My Business Dashboard won’t restrict your character use.

Myth #4: It’s OK to create a Google My Business Listing via Bulk Feed prior to your hotel property or business location opening.

Not only is this a violation of Google My Business terms of service, it’s also a good way to get your map listing and Google account suspended permanently. That’s right… permanently. If your Flag (hotel brand company) or SEO company encourages setting up or verifying your Google My Business Listing prior to your property opening (for newly built hotels or businesses)– tell them no. You’ll see much larger benefits from your Google My Business listing if you play by the rules, and you’ll avoid from 6 months to permanent suspension of your listing. Repeat violators (also known as spammers) have their Google Account black listed and can no longer create Google My Business Listings.Don’t do this to yourself, intentionally or not.

google my business early verification is a violation

Need a real life example? One of our clients had their listing suspended for 6 months because the corporate brand created a listing for them almost 12 months before the hotel actually opened by pushing the listing via Bulk Feed. After being suspended for 6 months, we’ve just now managed to get that map listing active again. End result? The hotel spent 2 months open without a Google My Business listing, which severely hindered their SERP exposure, bookings and revenue. Just don’t do it!

Again… let me be clear. Only create your listing when you’re truly open for business!

It’s only possible to verify a new listing for a business that has not yet opened via bulk upload, because everyone else (for the most part) has to use postal verification by PIN at the physical address listed on the Google My Business Listing.

Myth #5: There aren’t any followed links on a Google My Business Page or G+ Posts.

I’m going to refer back to Myth #2 here about bulk feeds and expound a bit. As discovered by Cyrus Shepherd of Moz, posting on Google My Business or Google+ can and does create followed links from Google. While some will say that Matt Cutts debunked this fact discovered by Cyrus Shepherd, Mark Traphagen parsed Mr. Cutts’ response and if you truly pay attention to what Cutts did and didn’t say, Cutts does not deny that G+ posts create followed links.

In addition to these followed links, the company description field of the G+ page also contains followed links – and if you’re using a bulk feed to manage your listings, you don’t get this benefit. Bulk feeds won’t take HTML, which means you can’t add links to your company description field. If you input the data for that field manually in the Google My Business Dashboard, you can add HTML links and these followed links from Google will improve your SEO performance.

With that in mind, can bulk feeds really be the best way to improve your local SEO results with Google My Business? Of course not!

Don’t believe me? Let me show you.

google my business has followed links

Myth #6: I can do the same thing with a Bulk Upload that I can do manually with Google My Business Listings.

If I haven’t debunked this for you already by this point in my article, let’s review.

  • Bulk feeds have character counts.
  • Manually added Google My Business listings don’t.

Tired of trying to fit “Bob’s Inn and Suites Duluth Atlanta near Convention and Airport Hotel Gwinnett Place” in the name field your bulk listing spreadsheet because it doesn’t fit? Quit using the bulk upload (or choose a more succinct name for your property).

Tired of being limited to 200 characters for your hotel’s description on Google My Business?

bulk feeds in google my business hinder seo

Here’s another Big Brand hotel example (different brand than the above example):

google my business bulk feed management has character counts

Everyone would agree that this is a poor description for a Google My Business page, and at the least not useful for helping potential guests determine which hotel they want to book in the area.

Quit using the bulk upload and you could have something that highlights the in’s and out’s of your property, local area, amenities and more – as can be seen in the example below:

optimized google my business description

Myth #7: Google won’t let you upload low resolution photos to Google My Business Pages.

Google doesn’t care about the resolution of your images. (Well, they do, but maybe not as much for the reasons you might think.) Google does care about the file size of your images and their minimum pixel width (or height). That’s right… file size and minimum pixel size. You can’t upload a photo more than 5 megabytes in size. You can’t upload a photo less than 720 pixels on at least one side. Aside from that, Google will let you upload low resolution photos to your Google My Business Page.

While loading low resolution images is not a best practice, low resolution images sized to be 720 pixels in width are better than no images on your Google My Business Page. You can always go back and replace the images with better ones once you have them taken. You can upload as many images as you want to your Google My Business Page. There is no limit when the My Business Dashboard is used. This isn’t the case with Bulk Feeds.

managing photos on google my business

managing photos on google my business

Myth #8: It’s OK to put location information that isn’t part of your real world company name in your Google My Business Name Field — like “Joe Bob’s Motel Dallas (at 635 and I-75)”.

You may see this occurring in Google My Business, but technically, it’s a violation of the My Business Terms of Service:

google my business name policy

Myth #9: If a hotel Flag or previous SEO agency has ownership of my hotel’s map listing, I can’t get it back from them.

According to a recent update to Google My Business definitions, anyone aside from the actual physical property owner of a listing is considered a 3rd Party/Authorized Representative.

google my business ownership

While it’s true that many of the hotel are actually owned by the Brand themselves, most branded hotels are just franchises of the brand name– and Google now recognizes this.

By Google adjusting their definition of Authorized representatives to include all others aside from the physical property ownership, Google has finally resolved the tug-of-war that happens between hotel owners, their authorized SEO agency/agencies and the hotel brand company. As Google has come to recognize that hotels change names and flags quite regularly, they’ve determined that the physical property owner is the best person to determine who is authorized to manage the Google My Business Listing for a business.

If you have a map listing you haven’t been able to recover since Google updated the My Business landscape in October of 2014 with bulk uploads – you’re in luck! You can now get it back with Google’s blessing. Hotel and business owners can now send a letter of authorization to Google with a request to transfer ownership. As I read the updated terms in the screen shot below, the Flag or former SEO agency has no choice but to turn over control of the listing immediately to the property owner.

debunking google my business myths about ownership

Myth #10: Google My Business uses Robo-Callers to warn of improperly set up My Business Listings.

Google doesn’t use robo-callers. If you pick up your phone and hear, “Please hold for an important message from Google My Business about your Business Listing Status…” – just hang up. It isn’t Google.

google my business robocalls - google doesnt robocall

This sounds complicated! Can anyone help me with my Google My Business Listing?

valet interactive logoThere are a ton of legitimate companies out there who can help you with your Google My Business listing. However, these companies aren’t going to be randomly calling you to offer you their services – in my experience, most of the companies calling around from New York, California and Washington end up being spammers – I even get these calls on my personal cell phone. If you need real help with your Google My Business Listing for a hotel property, request a proposal from Valet Interactive online for free. We can help.


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Scott Davis

Scott Davis is the Senior SEO Specialist at Valet Interactive. His professional experience in marketing spans over 16 years and includes public relations, direct sales, direct promotional marketing, event planning, e-commerce marketing, writing, editing, search engine optimization and search engine marketing. He is an avid music fan and plays acoustic and electric guitar. Cat Fan.