Linda Buquet

Local Search Expert
Jun 28, 2012
Reaction score

3rd party SEO companies holding clients GMB listings hostage is fairly common unfortunately. If you are a consultant, likely you'll run into the problem with a client, if you have not already. Reading this will help you prepare and know what to do. Important tip lower down.

The problem seems to be escalating lately, even though it's expressly prohibited in the GMB guidelines.

See section under: Ownership --- Additional guidelines for authorized representatives

"Always respond to management access requests promptly, and always transfer listing ownership to the business owner immediately upon request. Authorized representatives must, whenever possible, encourage the business owner to create an account, own the listing, and add authorized representatives as managers. Learn more about transferring ownership.

Failure to adhere to these policies may result in a suspension for the listing and/or account."

I would sure like to see companies like this that hijack listings get account suspensions (after the listing is transferred to the rightful owner.)

They have TONS of clients and are notorious for pulling stuff like this. I'm not going to mention the name here, you'll see it in the post below. But Mike Blumenthal has outed them in the past and they've been outed here previously too.

Here is the thread at the GMB Community that I escalated yesterday.

<a href="">Former internet marketing company refuses to turn over GMB listing now that we stopped using them</a>

The shady SEO company changed the biz name to a generic keyword name and changed the phone # of the listing, so they can SELL it to some other local biz. This is just so wrong!

The kicker is that support supposedly told him to create a new listing AND the 2 would merge and he'd get control back that way. :confused: The name and phone are diff, I don't think they'd merge. PLUS he wants his original listing that has his reviews, which should be able to be transferred I would think.

So I jumped in to see if I could help him resolve it.

Turns out Elliot, the business owner, posted about this here at the forum back in April. We gave him the info about how to request transfer back then and he still is not getting anywhere.

<a href="">3rd party SEO company holding clients GMB listing hostage</a>

In reading about another similar case that Priya escalated, I learned something
consultants should be aware of.
Here is that thread:

<a href="">Google My Business Ownership Conflict - The Google Advertiser Community - 556168</a>

In that case it's a Local Search Consultant that's trying to get control of the listing.


If you want to get control of a listing back from a shady SEO, DO NOT do it yourself.
Guide the client through the process and have them do it.

It makes sense when you understand all the scams Google runs into...

But it can be seen by Google as one SEO just trying to get a client listing from another SEO. It could be the 2nd SEO making up stories, that's really the bad guy trying to take control. So as you see in that last thread, the consultant expended lots of energy and got nowhere.

In the case I'm helping on, it's the owner that's been trying to get control of the listing and they have not made any progress either. But I'm hopeful Google will help him work this out. I'll keep you posted on the progress.

If a client has their listing held hostage by a previous SEO, what would you do???

Have YOU ever had this happen?



LocalU Faculty
Top Poster Of Month
Jul 18, 2012
Reaction score
I can't believe this still happens. I remember running into it a lot back in the Google Places days before any good support existed for GMB but feel like this shouldn't even be possible anymore! Companies like this should just go away.
Oct 25, 2013
Reaction score
I can't believe business owners get stuck in these situations... I'm glad I haven't had a client that ended up in that situation, but this shouldn't happen at all. Even with the business owner involved that thread Priya's helping on above doesn't seem to be getting too far. Good luck to them... and you're right Linda, I'm sure they'll get farther with the owner stepping in than a 3rd party SEO doing the leg work.
Similar threads
Thread starter Title Forum Replies Date
C Need Help Reporting/Deleting Scammy SAB Listing Service Area Businesses 12
C Need Help Reporting/Deleting Scammy SAB Listing Service Area Businesses 12
M Serious Problem With A Dentist's Local Rankings. NAP, Categories, Dashboard Data 1
S Local Services Ads - Fake Reviews Local Reviews 1
chrism Local Competitor Keyword Stuffing/Similar Words In GMB Spam on Google 2
buzzrank Home inspector business category not available in Canada, but local competitors have NAP, Categories, Dashboard Data 2
djbaxter New Local SEO tool from BrightLocal: Local Search Grid Local SEO Tools & Software 7
Stef Kiley Temp closed business ranking higher in local pack Help & Support for Google Local 2
F Turkish post: Google My Business local seo Recycle Bin 0
accessted Local Falcon GMB Question Service Area Businesses 2
F Google My Business local seo Google Local 101 3
S What makes a great Home/Landing Page in Local? Local Search 6
E What is the Click Through Rate / Conversion Rate for GMB or Local 3 Pack listings? Google My Business & Google Maps 3
J New local pack display? Google Algorithm Discussions 2
N Dedicated local search Local Search 12
djbaxter Webinar The State of Local Search 2021 [Webinar + Q&A] Events 0
Imperialpest Page Speed and Local / Ranking Question Ask a LocalU Expert [PRIVATE] (LocalU) 5
djbaxter Online Conference Pubcon Local Services Marketing Conference, January 20-21, 2021 Events 3
L Local Service Ad for Attorney Paid Search and Local Service Ads 1
Professor M No Reviews on Local Packs for Car Wash Category in Different Countries Google My Business & Google Maps 1
SpectateSwamp How about discussing local search... Like the Spectate one; everything a 50+ years of programming Geezer wants Break Room: Chat and Off Topic 3
B Google Beacons helping Local visability? Local Search 1
JoyHawkins Are Local Services Ads Stealing Clicks from Google My Business? A Case Study of 110 Listings Paid Search and Local Service Ads 0
M Decreased traffic to Google maps due to local service ads Paid Search and Local Service Ads 1
Eoghan_MFeed Looking for a SaaS but more importantly Local Search experienced product managers 🔍 Local SEO Job Board 0
Professor M Google Maps and Google My Business Big Changes - Google Maps Local News Feed Google My Business & Google Maps 26
Shelly "On the menu: [item]" visual label in local pack Help & Support for Google Local 3
Brian Barwig Unconventional Approaches to Local Link Building Local Search 0
Marty Twelves Local links: are they really that much better? Local Search 1
Y Whenever I publish update for my local business, my local rankings drop for 3-4 days Local Search 1
H Recorded Sessions from Local U Local Search 1
jeff_taylor GMB Removes Reviews from Local Pack Local Search 0
Scott ClientClicks Call Tracking for Local Service Ads Paid Search and Local Service Ads 4
jpayne7 Google Favoring Rich Snippets for Job Postings over Local Business Listings? Google Local 101 4
NexstarNickR Google Local Service Ads: Price Increases due to Bidding Rollout Paid Search and Local Service Ads 3
K New local business using stock photos for portfolio Local Content 5
Kayla Adam Canadian Local SEO Agency Needed Local Search 3
shively Microsoft Clarity (Local SEO heatmap tool) Local Search 2
Brian Barwig How to Win at Local Search with Service Area Businesses Service Area Businesses 3
Charles Jenkins SCHEMA For local business with address hidden? Local Search 1
N Local services Ad Approach for Businesses with Multiple locations on one GMB Account Paid Search and Local Service Ads 4
NickB-Tampa URL is updated in Google My Business but doesn't show up correctly in maps or on Bright Local Local Search 2
N Cost of Local Service Ads (LSA) Paid Search and Local Service Ads 15
J Local Service Ads (LSA) impact on GMB calls? Paid Search and Local Service Ads 2
Barb Davids GMB Listing vs Local Schema Google My Business & Google Maps 8
Scott ClientClicks Local service ads - change link? Paid Search and Local Service Ads 2
djbaxter Take the 2020 Local SEO Blackbelt Quiz Events 0
Eoghan_MFeed Do we care about Yahoo Local and MapQuest? Local Search 16
C The value of a blog on a website for local SEO Local Search 58
N Local SEO for Franchisee Local Search 4

Similar threads

Login / Register

Already a member?   LOG IN
Not a member yet?   REGISTER

Most UpVoted Answers

Trending: Most Viewed

LocalU Podcasts

  Promoted Posts

New advertising option: A review of your product or service posted by a Sterling Sky employee. This will also be shared on the Sterling Sky & LSF Twitter accounts, our Facebook group, LinkedIn, and both newsletters. More...
Google Product Exert

Top Bottom