Google has always been a dominant force in the local listings ecosystem, but an increase in the number of consumers searching for local business information across Google properties has brought the accuracy of Google My Business pages, or the lack thereof, to the forefront.
Today, boutique SEO firm Local SEO Guide is releasing its own tool to minimize unapproved changes to Google My Business pages. Although Local SEO Guide’s Locadium tool was originally developed for the company’s own clients, CEO Andrew Shotland says the decision was made to open Locadium up to the general public after a number of SEO firms expressed interest. The company plans to offer its new tool as a subscription service for local businesses and agencies, starting at $5 per month.
“We built Locadium to help us with our client work, and we thought it was useful enough to for the rest of the industry to use,” Shotland says. “Our intent is not to be a scaled up SaaS company. We’re not hiring sales people or teams of developers. We think of ourselves as consultants who occasionally will release software that helps solve really annoying PITA issues that may not be on the roadmaps of bigger tool companies.”
Unapproved changes to Google My Business pages have become a thorn in the side of businesses that rely on local search to bring in customers. Changes can run the gamut from small annoyances—like a coffee shop’s main image being changed to a picture of a hamburger — to major headaches, like when an incorrect address or phone number is added to a listing.
A Google listing for a Costco Hearing Aids Center in Concord, California, that’s been erroneously marked as “Closed,” for example, can have disastrous effects as potential customers search for information about the business online. Shotland says those effects are compounded for larger multi-location businesses, which might not even realize when Google My Business pages have been auto-generated for their individual store locations.
In an informal poll of SEO professionals on Twitter, Shotland found that 78% had experienced unapproved updates on their Google My Business pages in the past six months.
Although there are other services that track changes to Google My Business pages, Local SEO Guide Vice President Dan Leibson says those services rely on Google My Business’ API to track alerts that Google already provides to businesses via email and the Google My Business dashboard. This method can lead to discrepancies between what the Google My Business dashboard shows as being on a listings page and what is actually viewable on a listings page.
“We attribute those discrepancies to the fact that the ‘front end’ of GMB [Google My Business] and its ‘back end’ are likely two separate systems with a blend of algorithms from various parts of Google impacting the data. Our best guess is those two systems are not always in sync,” Shotland says.
Locadium solves this discrepancy issue with independent verification, which tracks what is happening on a business’ page together with Google’s own API. Shotland says the tool was built to catch the types of problems that most business owners don’t even realize are occurring.
Although Shotland believes in the value of a tool like Locadium for people who have experienced problems with Google My Business but aren’t interested in investing in a “kitchen sink tool suite,” he says his company still remains focused on the larger goal of providing boutique SEO consulting for businesses, multi-location brands, and local directory sites.
“In MBA lingo, we are a point solution in an ocean of integrated systems,” he says. “I don’t think every business will need something like this in the future. Only those who want to sleep at night.”
Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.