You may have heard of it before, but how is it affecting your business? And more importantly, what can you do to fight back? Today, we’re diving deep into the SEO underworld, so you can better understand how to battle cheaters and dominate on Google maps. Let’s get after it.
What is Google My Business spam?
In order to understand what Google My Business spam is, you first have to understand how marketing companies think. On your screen is Whitesparks, 2020 Local Search Ranking Factors, where they interviewed and surveyed over 1000 marketers to understand what they thought were the most important aspects of Google My Business.
Whitespark took those findings from that survey and they put a top 50 list together. As you can see here, keywords in Google My Business title is number two overall. Anytime something has that big of an impact on rankings, you can bet that people will try to spam the system.
What you also see here down at number nine, is the removal of spam listings through spam fighting having a significant ranking factor. That’s why in today’s video, we’re going to teach you what spam is.
We’re also going to teach you how to fight it. That way you can increase your rankings on Google. So what does spam look like in the real world? So I typed in emergency plumber in New York. As you can see from the listings here, they’re very, very similar. They share a lot of similar traits in their name. Be honest, if you’re in the home service trades, these do not look like legitimate business names.
The reason for this is because when you type in emergency plumber New York, Google thinks the name of your business is irrelevant ranking factor. So what they do, is if you have those keywords in your business title, they will rank you based on that.
The companies that do this are called Rank N’ Rent or Lead Generation Listing. So what happens is they create listings. They use highly relevant key terms, such as emergency plumbing, air conditioning installation, electrical panel replacement, things that usually turn into high dollar items for contractors.
So what happens is they create listings. They use highly relevant key terms, such as emergency plumbing, air conditioning installation, electrical panel replacement, things that usually turn into high dollar items for contractors.
And then what they do is they get the phone calls, they verify the phone calls, and then they will sell the leads similar to Home Advisor or Angie’s List or any of the other lead generation systems out there.
What are Google my Business’ Terms of Service regarding your business name?
So what does Google have to say about this? If you go to their Google My Business support page, according to Google My Business terms of service, you are supposed to represent your business as it’s consistently represented and recognized in the real world across signage, stationary, and other branding.
A lot of times, when you are trying to identify what is spam, there are some key things that you can cut to the chase, if you will. And as you scroll down, you can start to see a pattern.
Some obvious things that you can check are to pull up a company’s website. So, for instance, Emergency Plumbing and Drain Cleaning, we’re going to open their website. Let’s open 24 Hour Plumbing and New York City Plumbing Emergency.
As you can see here, this says emergency sewers. So this one would be a great one to report of spam because it does not match the name on Google maps. Here’s another great example, 24 Hour Plumbing, look at the bottom of their page. It is literally just stuffed with keywords and gives no relevance whatsoever. I would venture to guess this as a spam listing.
Here’s New York City Plumbing Emergency, as you can see their name and logo says New York City Plumbing, it does not have emergency in the name, emergency is just the keyword that they are trying to do to help rank their business. Again, another spam listing that should be reported and removed from Google maps.
How to remove name spam from Google Maps
So now that you know how to identify Google Maps spam, we’re going to go ahead and I’m going to show you the process to go ahead and remove this spam from Google Maps. First things first, so the listing that you found that you believe is spam, you want to click on that listing so it pops up just like this.
What you want to get to here is suggest an edit. This is the first step in removing Google Map spam. And the reason I’ve mentioned this is the first step, is this is sometimes one of the quickest ways to get Google My Business spam removed without having to go to the Business Redressal Form, which we will cover in just a moment.
So you’re going to click suggest an edit. We’re going to go to change name or other details. If for some reason you have a competitor that is closed or no longer in business, you can go to close or remove. But most of these you’re going to go to change name or other details.
Now, from here, if you believe the business is legitimate but their name on Google Maps is incorrect, go ahead and just change the name here. If you remember from our earlier example, this is called emergency sewers.
So for this one, I’m not going to try to close this one, I’m just going to change the name. And you can see down here this is what their URL is, emergencysewers.com. Then you go ahead and send this. Google’s going to give you a thank you for your feedback. When you are done making that suggested edit you will see, Google’s reviewing your suggestion with the suggestion that you made.
How can you track which listings you’ve suggested edits to?
Now, a pro tip here. Obviously, you don’t want to continue to do this and try to track which listings you have identified as spam and try to remove. So my best tip here would be to open a Google Sheet, put the name of the business, the reason that you made an edit, and some other form of identification, such as for us here, we can use the place ID, which is unique to every single business listing.
To get the place ID, go to pleper.com, get the Google Chrome extension, and you will be able to easily find the place ID here. Now, for the purposes of this video, let’s say this does not work and you have tried it a couple of times. I will put a link to the Google My Business Redressal Complaint Form down in the description below, so that way you always have access to it.
If you are planning on fighting spam this way, I would bookmark this as this is an important page for you. When you use Suggest an Edit, from my understanding, that is usually a bot that will go through those forms and see if that information is correct. So you will filter all a little bit of spam that way, but it’s not going to catch everything.
So the ones that you really need Google to take a look into and have a person dive into, you would use the Business Redressal Complaint Form. Now I have filled this out.
And so I’m just going to walk you through this real quickly so you can understand what information you need to be giving Google and what they are looking for. Your full name. This would be your name, your contact information.
The name of the entity. This is the name on Google maps. So make sure you’re not putting the actual business name, you’re putting the name that they’re putting on Google Maps. Malicious content. There is a couple options here. Most of these are going to be the title.
When you are looking for the public URL, Google wants the Google Maps public URL. So that would be in google.com/maps. And then obviously the listing that you are trying to report. You would take this URL here and paste it into here. From there, you would take photos or screenshots of things that you thought were proof that this business name is incorrect, address was incorrect, and you would add that information.
What information should you include in the Business Redressal Form
The more proof you have, the better the chance of that you’re going to get this listing removed. If you want to do this in bulk, you can, there is a little button down here as you see where my cursor is.
You can add additional and Google even says, “If you have too many to report, we recommend submitting 10-100 at a time so these get processed together. Google does give you a little bit of information about how to find the public URL just in case you can’t figure it out.
Now, the most important part is the explanation of why you believe this is malicious. One thing you want to keep in mind is you do not want to make this personal. Google does not care how this affects your business, they care how this affects the users on their platform.
So, for instance, having business name that is not correct goes against their terms of service. They can also be considered fraudulent, which could lead to more problems for the person doing the search.
Because they could be trying to hire one company, get a completely different company and not understand if that company has a good rating, if they have good technicians, and could get scammed out of money in their home.
So keep your replies along those lines. Don’t make it personal. Google doesn’t care what it does to your business. What they do care is how it affects homeowners and people doing the search.
Once you are done, you go ahead and submit, and that is it. Again, I would update your spreadsheet then to make sure that you have listed that you have done suggested edit and what date, you had done the Business Redressal Form and what date, that way you have some historical records that you can reference later on when Google emails you.
Now, if you were a client of Relentless Digital, we do this on your behalf. We essentially leave no stone unturned when it comes to ranking your business on Google Maps. If your competitors are trying to cheat, we will beat them at their own game by doing things the right way, and also protecting your listing with our local business protection.