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4 Top Reasons Your Google Business Profile Information Keeps Updating

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4 Top Reasons Your Google Business Profile Information Keeps Updating

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.

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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.

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Review the updates to make sure they’re accurate.

Screenshot from Google Business Profile in Google Search, April 2022

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.
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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.

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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:

Suggest An Edit In The Knowledge PanelScreenshot from Google Search, April 2022

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.

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Keyword Stuffed Business NameScreenshot from Google Maps, April 2022

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.

Email letting you know the suggested edit was publishedScreenshot from Outlook, April 2022

When you search for the business name, sure enough, the business’s name was changed and is now in compliance.

Suggested Edit LiveScreenshot from Google, April 2022

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.

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When customers click on this link, they are asked questions about the business.

know this place questionScreenshot from Google, April 2022

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.

how expensive is this place questionScreenshot from Google, April 2022

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.,

Update this Place on the Google Maps appScreenshot from Google Maps app, April 2022

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.

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Google Description on Knowledge PanelScreenshot from of Knowledge Panel on Google, April 2022

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.)

Pickup Hours UpdatedScreenshot from Google Business Profile in Google Search, April 2022

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.

Hours listed on business websiteScreenshot from website, April 2022

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.

Incorrect pickup business hours were displayed publicly BEFORE the business could approve or reject Google's changesScreenshot from of Knowledge Panel on Google, April 2022

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.

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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.

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(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.

Granting third-party tools access to your Google Business ProfileScreenshot from Google Permission dialog, April 2022

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:

  1. Visit your  Google Account Permissions.
  2. Click on the app or service you want to review to see its access rights.
App with access to Business ProfileScreenshot from Google Third-Part Apps With Account Access, April 2022

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.

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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.

Hours on Street ViewScreenshot from Google Maps Street View, April 2022

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.Updates to Business Profile Email

Screenshot from Outlook, April 2022If you only have one location, manage your profile directly on Google Search:

  1. Sign in to the Google account you use to manage your business profile.
  2. 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.”
  3. If needed, to manage your Business Profile, select View profile.
  4. In the menu above the search results, choose Edit profile.
Edit Profile On Google SearchScreenshot from Google Business Profile in Google Search, April 2022

Click through the various options until you find the blue changes that Google made to your profile.

Updated information shows up in blueScreenshot from Google Business Manager in Search, April 2022

Note: It’s important to note that Google changed the public information in the Knowledge Panel before the business accepted or rejected the change:

Google made change before business approvedScreenshot from Google Search, April 2022

If the changes Google made are correct, you can click Accept.

Accept UpdatesScreenshot from Google Business Manager in Search, April 2022

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:

Click on section name to update changesScreenshot from Google Business Manager in Search, April 2022

Next, click Save to save your changes.

Fixed the changed informationScreenshot from Google Business Manager in Search, April 2022

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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Featured Image: Fonstra/Shutterstock

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11 SEO Tips & Tricks To Improve Search Indexation

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11 SEO Tips & Tricks To Improve Search Indexation

The SEO game has so many moving parts that it often seems like, as soon as we’re done optimizing one part of a website, we have to move back to the part we were just working on.

Once you’re out of the “I’m new here” stage and feel that you have some real SEO experience under your belt, you might start to feel that there are some things you can devote less time to correcting.

Indexability and crawl budgets could be two of those things, but forgetting about them would be a mistake.

I always like to say that a website with indexability issues is a site that’s in its own way; that website is inadvertently telling Google not to rank its pages because they don’t load correctly or they redirect too many times.

If you think you can’t or shouldn’t be devoting time to the decidedly not-so-glamorous task of fixing your site’s indexability, think again.

Indexability problems can cause your rankings to plummet and your site traffic to dry up quickly.

So, your crawl budget has to be top of mind.

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In this post, I’ll present you with 11 tips to consider as you go about improving your website’s indexability.

1. Track Crawl Status With Google Search Console

Errors in your crawl status could be indicative of a deeper issue on your site.

Checking your crawl status every 30-60 days is important to identify potential errors that are impacting your site’s overall marketing performance.

It’s literally the first step of SEO; without it, all other efforts are null.

Right there on the sidebar, you’ll be able to check your crawl status under the index tab.

Screenshot by author, May 2022
errors in google search consoleScreenshot by author, May 2022

Now, if you want to remove access to a certain webpage, you can tell Search Console directly. This is useful if a page is temporarily redirected or has a 404 error.

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A 410 parameter will permanently remove a page from the index, so beware of using the nuclear option.

Common Crawl Errors & Solutions

If your website is unfortunate enough to be experiencing a crawl error, it may require an easy solution or be indicative of a much larger technical problem on your site.

The most common crawl errors I see are:

semrush crawlability problemsScreenshot by author, May 2022

To diagnose some of these errors, you can leverage the URL Inspection tool to see how Google views your site.

Failure to properly fetch and render a page could be indicative of a deeper DNS error that will need to be resolved by your DNS provider.

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google search console URL inspectionScreenshot by author, May 2022

Resolving a server error requires diagnosing a specific error. The most common errors include:

  • Timeout.
  • Connection refused.
  • Connect failed.
  • Connect timeout.
  • No response.

Most of the time, a server error is usually temporary, although a persistent problem could require you to contact your hosting provider directly.

Robots.txt errors, on the other hand, could be more problematic for your site. If your robots.txt file is returning a 200 or 404 error, it means search engines are having difficulty retrieving this file.

You could submit a robots.txt sitemap or avoid the protocol altogether, opting to manually noindex pages that could be problematic for your crawl.

Resolving these errors quickly will ensure that all of your target pages are crawled and indexed the next time search engines crawl your site.

2. Create Mobile-Friendly Webpages

With the arrival of the mobile-first index, we must also optimize our pages to display mobile-friendly copies on the mobile index.

The good news is that a desktop copy will still be indexed and displayed under the mobile index if a mobile-friendly copy does not exist. The bad news is that your rankings may suffer as a result.

There are many technical tweaks that can instantly make your website more mobile-friendly including:

  • Implementing responsive web design.
  • Inserting the viewpoint meta tag in content.
  • Minifying on-page resources (CSS and JS).
  • Tagging pages with the AMP cache.
  • Optimizing and compressing images for faster load times.
  • Reducing the size of on-page UI elements.

Be sure to test your website on a mobile platform and run it through Google PageSpeed Insights. Page speed is an important ranking factor and can affect the speed at which search engines can crawl your site.

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3. Update Content Regularly

Search engines will crawl your site more regularly if you produce new content on a regular basis.

This is especially useful for publishers who need new stories published and indexed on a regular basis.

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Producing content on a regular basis signal to search engines that your site is constantly improving and publishing new content, and therefore needs to be crawled more often to reach its intended audience.

4. Submit A Sitemap To Each Search Engine

One of the best tips for indexation to this day remains to submit a sitemap to Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools.

You can create an XML version using a sitemap generator or manually create one in Google Search Console by tagging the canonical version of each page that contains duplicate content.

5. Optimize Your Interlinking Scheme

Establishing a consistent information architecture is crucial to ensuring that your website is not only properly indexed, but also properly organized.

Creating main service categories where related webpages can sit can further help search engines properly index webpage content under certain categories when the intent may not be clear.

11 SEO Tips & Tricks To Improve Search IndexationScreenshot by author, May 2022

6. Deep Link To Isolated Webpages

If a webpage on your site or a subdomain is created in isolation or an error preventing it from being crawled, you can get it indexed by acquiring a link on an external domain.

This is an especially useful strategy for promoting new pieces of content on your website and getting it indexed quicker.

Beware of syndicating content to accomplish this as search engines may ignore syndicated pages, and it could create duplicate errors if not properly canonicalized.

7. Minify On-Page Resources & Increase Load Times

Forcing search engines to crawl large and unoptimized images will eat up your crawl budget and prevent your site from being indexed as often.

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Search engines also have difficulty crawling certain backend elements of your website. For example, Google has historically struggled to crawl JavaScript.

Even certain resources like Flash and CSS can perform poorly over mobile devices and eat up your crawl budget.

In a sense, it’s a lose-lose scenario where page speed and crawl budget are sacrificed for obtrusive on-page elements.

Be sure to optimize your webpage for speed, especially over mobile, by minifying on-page resources, such as CSS. You can also enable caching and compression to help spiders crawl your site faster.

Search Engine Journal PageSpeed InsightsScreenshot by author, May 2022

8. Fix Pages With Noindex Tags

Over the course of your website’s development, it may make sense to implement a noindex tag on pages that may be duplicated or only meant for users who take a certain action.

See also  Why GSC Shows Crawl Errors When Page Loads Normally via @sejournal, @martinibuster

Regardless, you can identify webpages with noindex tags that are preventing them from being crawled by using a free online tool like Screaming Frog.

The Yoast plugin for WordPress allows you to easily switch a page from index to noindex. You could also do this manually in the backend of pages on your site.

9. Set A Custom Crawl Rate

In the old version of Google Search Console, you can actually slow or customize the speed of your crawl rates if Google’s spiders are negatively impacting your site.

This also gives your website time to make necessary changes if it is going through a significant redesign or migration.

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Google Search Console crawl rateScreenshot by author, May 2022

10. Eliminate Duplicate Content

Having massive amounts of duplicate content can significantly slow down your crawl rate and eat up your crawl budget.

You can eliminate these problems by either blocking these pages from being indexed or placing a canonical tag on the page you wish to be indexed.

Along the same lines, it pays to optimize the meta tags of each individual page to prevent search engines from mistaking similar pages as duplicate content in their crawl.

11. Block Pages You Don’t Want Spiders To Crawl

There may be instances where you want to prevent search engines from crawling a specific page. You can accomplish this by the following methods:

  • Placing a noindex tag.
  • Placing the URL in a robots.txt file.
  • Deleting the page altogether.

This can also help your crawls run more efficiently, instead of forcing search engines to pour through duplicate content.

Conclusion

The state of your website’s crawlability problems will more or less depend on how much you’ve been staying current with your own SEO.

If you’re tinkering in the back end all the time, you may have identified these issues before they got out of hand and started affecting your rankings.

If you’re not sure, though, run a quick scan in Google Search Console to see how you’re doing.

The results can really be educational!

More Resources:

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Featured Image: Ernie Janes/Shutterstock



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