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Know Your Google

How familiar with Google are you, actually? Not just the search engine—we’re talking specifically about Google’s policies as they pertain to your business. As a business owner, if you’re not careful, ignorance or misinformation could wreak havoc on your online advertising efforts. Recently, Prospect Genius discovered two troublesome examples of what can happen when business owners aren’t informed. First, some of our clients have been tricked by fraudulent phone calls from scammers pretending to be Google. Second, some of our clients can’t help us set up their campaigns because they don’t even have access to their own Google account information. Both of these scenarios are extremely problematic for different reasons.

Fake Google Phone Calls

There has been a rash of incidents of unknown individuals or companies calling our clients posing as Google. (And we’re sure this has been happening outside of our client base, as well.) In these phone calls, the unknown party attempts to solicit private information from a business owner under the guise of a Google employee who wants to verify their information. You can see how this could become very dangerous: Giving account information (including usernames and passwords) to the wrong people is a surefire way to sabotage your online advertising campaign and compromise your privacy.  So, the key is not to fall for these phony calls. To do that, here are some things you need to know:

  • Phone calls from Google will always come from the (650) area code for Mountain View, California, which is where Google is headquartered.
  • There are two reasons why Google might call you:
    • To verify your Places listing
    • To sell AdWords
  • Calls from Google Places may be outsourced internationally (commonly to India), so you may hear a non-American accent—but the area code will still be (650).
  • Calls from AdWords sales reps will be domestic and will also have a (650) area code.

Remember these crucial facts the next time you’re faced with a phone call from someone purporting to be Google. Here is a prime example of a solicitation call posing as a Google call. Right off the bat, this phone call comes from an (818) area code, so you know it’s not from Google. (The caller ID displays the company name as “WEB SERVICE CO.”) Next, note that the caller claims to manage local listings for “Google, Yahoo!, and Bing.” That role simply does not exist. He proceeds to ask general questions about the business’s services, which means he is not verifying address or contact information on behalf of Google Places. As the conversation goes on, you can clearly tell that the caller is angling himself to pitch a new advertising service to the business’s office manager. Luckily, she ends the call before it goes too far.

Missing Log-In Information

The second problem that business owners face is not knowing their own log-in information for their Google My Business accounts. Most often, this happens when business owners work with a less-than-professional advertising team. The advertisers set up accounts for them but neglect to hand over their account information when their partnership ends. Then, when the business owner hires another advertising team, they aren’t able to grant their new advertisers access. Obviously, this is problematic because your new advertising team needs access to your account in order to do the job that you hired them to do. Without it, they won’t be able to track your Analytics, update your listing, or manage your AdWords. Even if you don’t hire another advertiser and are attempting DIY advertising, you should still have total access to and control of your own Google account at all times. After all, it’s your business and no one else’s. If this has happened to you, you must rectify it right away. An old company should never retain access to your Google My Business account for any reason. First and foremost, you must inform your new advertisers of the situation. Then—and this is the hard part—you’ll have to call your previous advertiser and ask them for your log-in information. It may be an uncomfortable phone call, but you have to do it. Once you’ve obtained your information, you can make yourself manager of the account, and two weeks later, Google will allow you to become owner of the account. At this point, you can give your information to your new advertiser or make them your account manager. However, there’s one exception to this approach. Sometimes, preexisting Google listings might not have lots of good content or reviews to begin with. In these cases, instead of going through the trouble of transferring ownership of the account, we recommend deleting the listing and starting over. Not only will this provide you with a clean slate for content, photos, and reviews, but it will also prevent your new advertiser from having to retrace your previous advertiser’s footprints and redo all of their work.

Ignorance Is Not an Excuse

Whether it’s a deceptive company tricking you into giving out your information or an old advertiser hanging on to your account ownership, or something else entirely, it’s up to you to know what’s right and what’s wrong. Arm yourself and your business with knowledge about Google, as well as all other advertising-related services, in order to ward off scams and build the strongest campaign possible.